Fine career opportunities, good staff benefits, fun challenges and many paths to personal development were the reasons why Sara Björk-Södergård and Francois Maugis chose the gaming company Paf in Åland. Today, they are chief officers for Paf's tech organization.
For Sara it was the love of her youth that brought her from Stockholm to Åland twenty years ago. Before starting her work at Paf she had studied economics at Uppsala University and IT at Åland University of Applied Sciences. In Åland she had been working at Eget technology enterprise, a company that was later acquired by Paf.
Francois was born in Paris, but he had always been interested in the Nordics. This, combined with his desire for new challenges, brought him from France, via Turku, to Paf and Åland. This happened for eleven years ago.
Opportunities to grow
Sara Björk-Södergård has taken on many different roles within the organisation since she started at Paf, from scrum master and product owner to development manager. She is now Chief Product Officer (CPO).
“Paf offers an inspiring working environment in which you can really grow”, she says. “For me it has been an amazing journey and I have had the opportunity to do many different things and learn a lot over the years. Partly for my own part, but also by seeing how the company has developed and grown with internationalisation.”
Francois Maugis, Chief Technology Officer (CTO) and Chief Information Security Officer (CISO), agrees and highlights empathy, openness and servant leadership as important keywords within the organization.
“We renew, improve and learn together, all the time”, says Francois. “The cohesion of our teams makes it easy to share success and failures alike, and to grow in close collaboration with many competent colleagues.”
Sara and Francois highlight Paf's commitment to its staff through training and good staff benefits as major advantages. Access to e-learning platforms, hackathons and a focus on development also make it easier for employees to achieve personal development. To create team spirit, a lot of time is also allocated for onboarding new employees.
“We believe that a new team is created every time you bring in a new member. That's why onboarding and training are important to us”, says Francois.
Sara explains that Paf's focus on sustainability and responsible gaming is also greatly appreciated.
“Most importantly, we have a permissive working climate where you can grow and be supported by many colleagues”, Francois adds.
Enjoying Åland life
In addition to having fun at work, Sara and Francois also enjoy life in Åland.
"There are not many places in the world that are so peaceful and safe and offer such a high standard of living," says Francois. He mentions childcare and maternal counselling as two examples.
“We have received so much support, both when our children were born and now from the kindergarten. Few countries in the world offer such good and advantageous services in the public sector.”
Sara agrees that Åland is safe and well-organised and there are many benefits in daily life in Åland.
“The school is fantastic!” she says, and she also appreciates the short distances.
“Living so close to work and nature reduces stress and leaves more time for the family and hobbies.
For Francois it is sailing that counts, while Sara likes to golf. Sara is also interested in cooking and she cooks food from all corners of the world with her husband.
“Something I really appreciate is the abundance of fantastic local raw produce and the opportunity to buy them directly from the farms. The relatively large selection of restaurants is also impressive.
“And when you miss the big city pulse, Stockholm is always close”, Francois adds.
In terms of career, Paf is currently in an exciting development phase towards new technology with the recruitment of many new employees to the tech organization. Sara tips on Paf Tech Radar, radar.pafcloud.net, where you can follow Paf's technology portfolio and future visions in technology development, and aboutpaf.com where you can find the current vacancies.
“It is a luxury to work in an international company and in an environment that is as beautiful and safe as the Åland Islands”, she says.
Paf is a Nordic gaming company founded on Åland in 1966 to generate profit for the benefit of society. We were one of the very first gaming companies to go online in 1999. Many of our games are exclusive to Paf and developed by our in-house Games Studio. We are an award-winning industry leader in responsible gaming. Our physical gaming operations include over 30 cruise ships criss-crossing the Baltic and North Seas.
Paf has roughly 400 employees representing over 30 nationalities. Our offices are located on Åland, in Helsinki, Stockholm, Riga, Tallinn, Oslo, Norrköping and Madrid. Paf (Ålands Penningautomatförening) is licensed and controlled by the Government of Åland.
In 2018, the Paf Group had a total turnover of 111.8 million euros and a profit of 24.6 million euros. More information at aboutpaf.com.