Pauliina is the newest, and most Finnish, member of the Healthy Hospo family. Passionate about cycling and baked goods she never turns down a glass of champagne. As a Finnish native, she has a keen passion for very hot dark rooms and is terrible at small talk. She is currently training for her first marathon and very much trying to quit smoking. Her surname “Marjanen” means “A little berry” or “berry-ish”.
My father was an entrepreneur in construction and my mum worked in the corporate world, for Nokia throughout my childhood. I don’t remember thinking work really played a huge role in either of their lives until they both got re-educated for something they loved when I was in my early teens. My father as a forest guide, my mother as an occupational therapist. Unconsciously then, they taught me that it’s an ordinary circumstance to work for convenience for the first part of your life. Wait for the right moment to take the leap, to do something you are truly passionate about. I really wasn’t having it.
I was 14 when I started working in hospitality. I desperately wanted a job and was given one in a small coffee roastery near to where I lived. I was better at work than I ever had been studying. It’s not that I sucked at school per se, I was just deeply uninterested in most of the subjects and filled my time with extra-curricular activities such as tutoring, the student board, organising events, and of course, work. The only subjects I was very interested in were languages, world religions and psychology. I guess all I really wanted was to understand people.
Hospitality was perfect for me. I was generally good with people and enjoyed service. My family would have rather had me educating myself further, but after barely graduating A levels, working in hospitality throughout, I moved to London to pursue bartending. What was meant to be a short trip turned into three years, two in London and one in Edinburgh. I was never an exceptional bartender. Sometimes I was a good one, but I was never interested enough in the detail information and the practical skills, I was there for the act of service. I read up my share of cocktail history and production methods and flavours but mainly because I saw the value of that knowledge in interacting with people.
My family would have rather had me study further and get a steady job. It’s only natural to want better for your children than what you had. But what does that mean? In my head, I was having it better than my parents in the sense that I wasn’t going to grind in a corporate job until I was “ready” to pursue something I was passionate about. I knew service was it.
When I was offered the job as a Global Brand Ambassador at Kyrö Distillery Company after being back in Finland for one and a half years, in the phone Mikko Koskinen, the brand manager, told me: “You will be great for this because you are a social fish”. I wish I got that on my business card! Leaving bartending was not an easy choice to make but I also knew my skillset never really was in the actual making the drinks – part.
The world of branding is awesome. At the end of the day, it’s not that different from working in hospitality. It’s finding out what makes people tick, it’s communication and today increasingly it’s also service. I learned so much about the world, business and about myself working for Kyrö, but most importantly I learned about the meeting point of people and brand. The interconnection of these things is basically company culture. Culture is a set of rules, norms, guidelines and ideas of a certain group of people.
In order to build a healthy culture, we need both, healthy people and healthy brands. Not one of them is really more important than the other. Healthy brands are the sets of rules, norms and guidelines that should work in service of communities and healthy people are the creators, the ideas and the actors in the centre of brands. Healthier people lead to healthier brands lead to healthier communities lead to healthier people lead to healthier brands… You get the picture. It’s hard to say what comes first.
Hospitality matters so much in this world. The act of service is the act of elevating the energy of the receiver of the service. Risking sounding megalomaniac, I truly believe there’s something divine in what we do, or at least there’s an opportunity for that. There’s also an amazing opportunity to experience great fulfilment in our line of work, but for that to happen, working in service should never interfere with our personal health. Health goes hand in hand with success and fulfilment. You can’t pour from an empty cup. If we could create a world with healthier people and healthier brands in the hospitality industry, we could be contributing to a better world for everyone, the servers and the ones being served. I want to be a part of that, who wouldn’t?
It might sound like I’ve taken a very altruistic stand here, but I’m really not. In September 2018 I was diagnosed with burnout and depression. Many people think the opposite of depression is happiness, but it’s not – the opposite of depression is purpose. I loved my job, I loved the company I worked for, our values and our vision and I was always treated with nothing but love and support from everyone, before and after I got sick. But I was struggling with my purpose, big time. Being depressed for me was kind of like a huge narcissistic wound. I’m hurt here because I’m not doing as much good as I feel like I am capable of. So, in order to heal I needed to have a good look at where I see a purpose, and articulate and re-articulate it to myself many times to get here.
I’ve known Tim for a few years and always loved what Healthy Hospo stands for as a part of building a healthier culture in our industry. In my way, I’ve championed what Healthy Hospo does for some time now, but it took me time to get to a point where I truly feel I have something to contribute.
Health is such a huge concept, isn’t it? For the first 15 years of my life, it meant nothing to me, as I was generally well and had no immediate threats for my physical or mental health. But like for so many highly sensitive people, my teens brought to me mental instability. Moving to London brought me shitty physical health (ever eaten nothing but rice, sausages and mayo for 6 months?). It’s funny how for most of us the concept of health only becomes relevant once it’s affecting us negatively. For me, it became truly relevant once I realized it was affecting how well I was able to do my job. I don’t think it needs to be like that, I wish I could have started my journey to cultivating mental and physical health from a more positive place.
In January 2019 I was diagnosed with a condition called Hypothyroidism. It’s where your thyroid gland isn’t functioning properly and doesn’t release enough of a hormone called Thyroxine. Thyroxine is in charge of a lot of things in our body, from heart health to metabolism. A lack of it causes poor memory and cognitive functions, weight gain, fatigue, low heart rate and depression, amongst other things. There’s a small part of me that’s angry this wasn’t discovered earlier before I was diagnosed with depression, but mostly I am grateful for my condition. Without me knowing about it, it forced me to work extra hard to find ways to maintain my energy. I have learned a lot about health, much more than I would have if my body functioned properly. I will be on medication for it for the rest of my life, but it doesn’t affect me any more from here on.
I am beyond excited to channel my energy from now on into the purposeful work of creating happier, healthier environment in our industry. Becoming a Champion for Healthy Hospo is a hugely important part of that. As a Champion of Healthy Hospo, I am hoping to find ways to support people and businesses in our industry to cultivate health from a positive place. To see how this concept of healthy culture is here to serve and elevate us, not to fix us. I am also currently in the process of launching my first own business, with which I will focus on building great company cultures. Employee wellness is one big part of it all, the other ones are branding, communications and physical elements of businesses.
Being a part of the Healthy Hospo family is an honour, and I cannot wait to see what positive impact we can have in my home country Finland, and outside of it.
So that’s me now. There’s a lot more I could say about what brought me here, but I’ll save something for when we meet. I would love to hear from the community, your thoughts and what kind of content you would like for me to write about. I would also love to hear if you have any great tips for quitting smoking!
Send these my way to firstname.lastname@example.org or add me on all the social media.
Let’s build a happier, healthier hospitality industry. Together.