‘My overarching aspiration has been to engage in endeavours that hold significant meaning’
Building a company is a difficult task. Whether starting their own or growing an established business, these leaders have made a name for themselves as some of the best of the best. So, what makes business leaders tick and what are they aiming to achieve when all is said and done? We spoke to Monika Liikamaa, Co-Founder & Co-CEO of Enfuce, about her journey in business.
What are the biggest challenges you’ve faced in your career and how have you overcome them?
As a woman, perhaps one of the most significant challenges I have faced is the low level of expectations others have had regarding my potential in the early stages of my career. However, I have always maintained a strong belief in the value of hard work – whether it was working as a taxi driver back in my 20s or being the Co-CEO of one of Europe’s fastest-growing fintechs – and I have been fortunate enough to receive unwavering support throughout my career from my life partner.
Personally, I thrive when confronted with a challenge, and I am confident that there is nothing I cannot accomplish if I set my mind to it. With this mindset, I try to always move forward and view overcoming challenges as part and parcel of my professional journey.
Is there anything you wish you knew before you first started out?
I’m a strong believer that life is a journey and an ongoing learning experience. There are definitely some things I wish I had been aware of when I first started out but I can honestly say that I have no genuine regrets. In my perspective, life is all about doing, learning, and growing, and without those initial challenges when I first started, I would never be where I am today!
Did you always want to be a business leader or did the desire develop over time?
Throughout my life, my overarching aspiration has been to engage in endeavours that hold significant meaning, that truly make a positive impact on the world, and to set a compelling example for others to follow. And over time, it’s this dedication to making a difference and willingness to lead by example that have propelled me into a position of leadership within the business world.
That is why ESG is at the core of everything we do at Enfuce. Our vision is to create inspirational innovations that enable financial inclusion and sustainability and transform payment experiences for consumers and business users alike.
We drive environmental awareness and corporate responsibility in our products, our partnerships, and the way we conduct everyday business, and we’ve continually challenged everyone in the industry to do better on ESG across industry conferences, forums and a wide range of media outlets. I believe true leadership stems from this kind of meaningful action, rather than just words.
I’m really proud of everything we have achieved at Enfuce and to be continuing to set a new standard when it comes to customer happiness and social responsibility within the broader fintech landscape.
What is your top tip for other business leaders?
First and foremost, as a business leader, you will encounter numerous opportunities and challenges along your journey. It’s crucial to have the courage to seize these opportunities, even when they seem daunting or unfamiliar. Often, the most significant breakthroughs come from stepping out of your comfort zone and taking calculated risks.
Don’t let fear hold you back from exploring new horizons. For instance, Enfuce would have never been founded in the first place if I hadn’t declined a job offer to become the Managing Director of a prominent financial services company and instead pitched the idea of providing them with payment infrastructure services!
Secondly, it’s essential to recognise that everyone, regardless of their position or experience, will make mistakes. It’s a fundamental aspect of our growth and development. So, don’t be overly hard on yourself or your team when things don’t go as planned. Instead, view mistakes as valuable learning experiences. Encourage a culture of continuous improvement where failures are seen as stepping stones toward success.
However, it’s equally vital to maintain a respectful and considerate approach in all your interactions. While ambition and drive are commendable traits, they should never come at the expense of treating others poorly. Being a successful leader means fostering a positive and inclusive workplace environment. Always strive to be fair, compassionate, and understanding. Avoid being an ‘asshole’—that is, someone who undermines others or disregards their feelings and needs.
What are your plans for the future?
At Enfuce, our overarching mission is to establish ourselves as the world’s best issuer processor. Hence, our immediate priority is to consolidate and fortify our position as the market leader in embedded finance solutions and the go-to partner for businesses looking to scale their payment volumes. This entails continuous innovation and refinement of our offerings to allow even more use cases for our card products, staying ahead of industry trends, and maintaining a deep understanding of our customers’ evolving needs.
To achieve this, we must stay true to our Nordic values of customer happiness, transparency and reliability. Indeed, as a Nordic-founded company, we take immense pride in our commitment to ensuring the happiness and success of our customers. So our dedication to delivering the best possible outcomes for them will certainly continue to underpin every decision and action we take.
Finally, we recognise that our responsibilities extend beyond the realm of business. We are deeply committed to making a positive impact on the world, and we are gearing up to strengthen our ESG strategy and continue cultivating a thriving company culture that attracts top talent. Over the coming months, we will unveil a series of environmental and social initiatives that align with our core values and contribute to the betterment of society and the environment, and which we hope will create an environment where our staff can grow, contribute meaningfully, and find fulfilment in their work.
What would you like your legacy to be?
First of all, I hope that my children and future generations look upon my life’s journey with pride and admiration. I want them to see me as someone who not only pursued their passions and dreams but also dedicated themselves to making a meaningful impact on the world.
One crucial lesson I aim to impart to my children is the belief that by doing what you love and putting in relentless hard work, one can indeed change the world. I want them to understand that it’s not only possible but also admirable to follow their passions and use their unique talents to make a difference.
Beyond that, I’d like to be remembered as someone who contributed to the betterment of society and made a meaningful impact on the world. Through all of the great initiatives we have undertaken as a company, whether it’s promoting financial inclusion for Ukrainian refugees, signing up to the Climate Pledge, or offsetting our entire output of CO2 emissions – I hope to inspire and empower many others to drive positive change in the world.
What makes a great business leader?
A great business leader should possess a multifaceted set of qualities which include authenticity, determination, active listening, and clear communication of purpose. What this means is leading with integrity and honesty, inspiring through a relentless drive to achieve goals and overcome obstacles, valuing others’ input and making everyone feel heard, and finally, motivating others with a compelling and clearly articulated vision.
Ultimately, a great business leader should create a positive and productive workplace culture, foster innovation, and drive their organisation towards long-term success.