Trail running, delicious tomatoes and fun at work!

Aki Ikäheimo, an outdoor enthusiast and Team Manager at the gaming company Paf, enjoys life in Åland. Here he has found new professional challenges and a leisure time with nature right outside the door.

“Nature is so easily accessible in Åland. I go cycling and jogging a lot in the forest and here are many fine trails. For example, I live nearby Lemlandsleden hiking trail which is perfect for trail running. I also like to run out to the tip of Herröskatan where it’s so beautiful along the coastline with the sea and the islands.”

The only thing Aki really misses here is the abundance of snow, and really high mountains.

“Indeed! I’m training for contests held in the Alps and other mountain chains. Hill training is not easy for me here in Åland, but there are many other interesting running contests for runners like me here in Åland, such as Åland Marathon, Kanonloppet contest and Bomarsund Trailrun.”

Unique place

Aki Ikäheimo was born in Salo, Finland, but has lived in many places, e.g. in Scotland, and most recently in Kuopio in eastern Finland.
“A year and a half ago, I started looking around for new challenges and found a job ad from Paf.”

When Aki researched Paf as an employer, he liked what he discovered.

“For me, it’s important that Paf is a company that makes a difference to society and that the profits benefit Åland through financial support to various associations and organizations.”

He also thinks Paf stands out by being responsible in the complicated gaming industry.

“I like the way Paf really works responsible gaming instead of just talking about it - we walk the talk. I respect Paf for that and I don't think I could work for a gaming company that didn't take social responsibility.”

Aki was called for an interview and liked the atmosphere at Paf. When he was offered the position as Team Manager at the tech department, he accepted.

“I lived in Kuopio, but the distance between Kuopio and Salo, where my family lives, and between Åland and Salo is about the same, so there was no major change for me.”

In addition, he sees Åland as a unique place in Finland. Åland stands out in the same way as Lapland does.

“Both belong to Finland but are slightly out of the ordinary compared to the rest of the country. So, I thought living in Åland would be a different experience at the same time as I get all the benefits of living in Finland!”

Many benefits

Now Aki has been living for about a year and a half in his rental apartment in Lemland, about 15 kilometres from Mariehamn. And he likes it.

“My view of Åland so far is that everything is clean and tidy and we have a well-functioning society. What I really like about Åland is that it is so peaceful, there is no stress and not even any traffic jams.”

According to Aki, Åland has everything you need for a good everyday life, e.g. grocery stores, restaurants, shops, sports facilities, gyms, a cinema and a bowling hall. But he also adds;

“If you are looking for something super special, you’d need to be aware that Åland is a small place. You can find most things here, but you can't compare this to a big city.”

A bonus with moving to Åland is that Aki can now update his old Swedish skills from his school days.

“I’m surrounded by Swedish all the time, so it helps me get started with the language again. Learning a language is also a good pastime activity; it challenges me in a completely different way than physical activity and helps me keep my brain going.”

According to him it is commonly thought among the Finns that one cannot survive in Åland without speaking Swedish. He, however, thinks it’s not true;

“If you can’t speak Swedish, English always works, and sometimes even Finnish.”

Good working environment

In addition to active leisure time, Aki also enjoys his job and the challenges as Team Manager at Paf's tech organization.

“Software manufacturing is a whole new industry for me with many fun experiences, even though I already have over ten years of experience as a manager.”

He respects his colleagues and Paf as an employer and says that the employees stay ten years in average within the company.

“I have worked in many different companies and what I experience as unique at Paf is the atmosphere and respect we have for each other. Therefore, I think many love to stay. In addition, it’s easy to develop within the company.”

As Aki is an active person, he’s happy about the availability of wellness vouchers and the opportunity to a one-hour sports activity at work per week.

“It's valuable to me. We also have good insurance and Paf offers many extra activities for the staff, everything from floorball to bowling.”

When asked if there is something special Aki wants to highlight, he concludes by saying:

“Local tomatoes, they are extremely tasty! I have not been a great fan of tomatoes before, but here I love them!

Photo: Robert Watkins