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“I was given the opportunity for professional growth” – Recognising his own strengths helped Joonas Rahkonen to progress in his career

When Head of Development Services Joonas Rahkonen joined Orion, he moved from a specialist role to a managerial role – and then to a leadership role. Rahkonen learned leadership during his work as a peacekeeper, for example. “In crisis zones, I learned to identify my strengths and weaknesses and to trust my team 100 per cent,” Rahkonen says.
2/5/2024 Author / Anni Turpeinen

Properly functioning systems and connections are vital for Orion’s ability to manufacture and develop medicines for patients.  
Joonas Rahkonen, Head of Development Services, leads a team in IT management that designs and develops IT solutions for Orion’s business units.  
“As a passionate ice hockey fan and player, I think of the whole as an ice hockey team in which each player has their own place in the game. Everyone’s skills are equally important and drive the team – that is, Orion – to success. My job is to keep the IT solutions effective and modern, so that other Orion experts can focus on their own work and deliver results,” Rahkonen says. 
In addition to leading the team and working as a supervisor, Rahkonen is also involved in a variety of tasks related to project planning, management and implementation, as well as IT architecture and operational development.

From expert to project manager

Rahkonen was appointed Project Manager in the Development Services team in Orion’s IM department in 2018. He had built up strong technical skills in his previous job at an IT and business consulting services company, where he worked as an IT specialist.  
“I was part of the technical team, working on projects such as patient information systems. I also gained experience in managing development projects. As a project manager, it’s useful to have in-depth knowledge in the field, as it enables you to understand the language of the experts and have a better idea of how much time is needed for each task,” Rahkonen says. 
Before his IT career, Rahkonen also served twice as a peacekeeper. Assignments in Chad and Lebanon shaped his thinking and put things into perspective at a young age. The experience also taught him leadership skills in extreme circumstances. 
“My experience as a peacekeeper in crisis zones has definitely affected my career. I understand my strengths and development needs, and I don’t shy away from making decisions in tough situations. I also learned to trust my team members and their skills 100 per cent, and these lessons learned are also needed in working life.” 

Straight in at the deep end

Rahkonen says he is glad that Orion gave him the opportunity for professional growth.  
“You don’t always need decades of experience to be selected for a particular role. By choosing me as a project manager, Orion showed that knowing your own strengths and being motivated to develop are excellent recruitment criteria,” Rahkonen points out. 
As a project manager, Rahkonen was able to demonstrate his skills right from the start: 
“Orion’s subsidiary Orion Diagnostica was sold, and I was given the task of separating the companies’ IT systems. The task required the management of complex units and cooperation between a wide range of actors. It also gave a good overview of how pharmaceutical companies operate.” 
One system is often linked to the work of a large number of people at Orion, so the impact and objectives of changes need to be carefully considered for each project. 
“We have succeeded in our work when even major innovations run smoothly in the background and are introduced without anyone at Orion noticing what has happened,” Rahkonen says with a laugh. 
“Of course, this is not always the case. Sometimes changes inevitably cause downtime, for example. That’s when communication about the benefits and goals of the work becomes important,” he continues.  

Rahkonen was selected as the supervisor of his team in 2022. He already had experience in operational management and was then given the opportunity to also serve as a team leader.  
“The same rules apply to being a supervisor as in ice hockey: make others around you better, and you’ll do better yourself.” 

The three best aspects at Orion:

  • Great people to work with. “We have a good team.”
  • Interesting tasks in a constantly evolving environment. “We get to be on the cutting edge of development, with an emphasis on training and learning.”  
  • Meaningful work. “You can be genuinely proud of your work.”