"Clean up your mess, your mother doesn't work here!" you can read in the break room of one workplace or another. But what if your mother actually does work there?
Sanna Touru and her mother Pauliina Sammelvuo have both worked at Kiilto’s Lempäälä branch (in Finland) all their adult lives. Pauliina’s career at Kiilto began forty years ago, when she started as an office assistant at the age of 19. Since then she has worked as a switchboard operator, dispatch clerk, order processor, receptionist, accounts clerk and payroll clerk. In her current position as Cash Management Specialist she has been working for almost ten years. “Oh, the perspective of time! Looking back, time is so short, and looking forward feels like a long time,” says Pauliina.
For Pauliina’s two children, Sanna and Ville, their mother’s job has always meant Kiilto. When Sanna was 15 and wondering about summer job opportunities, applying for a job at Kiilto felt natural. Sanna got the job as a two-week summer intern. The following summer, Sanna was invited back. During her studies, she worked at Kiilto for her summer and winter holidays, working at the reception, assisting in the finance department among other things. “That was the start of Sanna’s career at Kiilto,” they both say.
After high school, Sanna travelled the world and applied to university, but always returned to Kiilto for the summer. “I continued this for three years, after which my job at Kiilto became permanent,” says Sanna. Today, Sanna’s title is Assistant Controller.
Support from both sides
So mom and daughter are both working in the same company, in the same branch and in the same financial department. What is it like?
“Working with my mother is no different from working with other colleagues, because I have learned to treat everyone with respect. Sometimes I have wondered whether I should treat my mother differently from others. I have always come to the same conclusion: no, my mother is my mother no matter where I am,” says Sanna.
For Pauliina, the role of mother in the workplace has required more reflection. “In the beginning, it was a bit of a challenge to be an equal colleague and not to take on a motherly role in guiding Sanna through her work, but to let her do things independently and in her own way,” she says.
Today, both support each other, with Pauliina getting tips from her daughter on things like technology. “Things change, and that’s good. We both have our place, experience and vision. Tradition and future hand in hand.” Pauliina says. Sanna says she gets emotional support from her mother: “I think it’s an asset that we are in the same workplace. We know each other inside out.”
“I still remember when my mother gave me the ‘tip’ in the first summer not to come to the office with any shorts on. I still remember this advice years later,” laughs Sanna.
Pauliina remembers how people used to leave their coffee cups and other things in meeting rooms and on desks. “When a colleague told they should hang up a sign ‘Clean up your mess, your mother doesn’t work here!’, Sanna found it funny that indeed, not everyone’s mother works here.”
The mother-daughter duo is very familiar to other Kiiltonians. Sanna says that she often encounters the idea at work that she is like a carbon copy of her mother. “I’m proud of it: hard-working, efficient and skilled.”