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Futustories – Meet Lena Wagner

Lena's desire to impact the world led her to Futurice and eventually an expat experience working in Helsinki, Finland.

Vertical hero image of Lena

How long have you worked at Futurice?

Almost six years now – time flies.

What do you do and how did you come to be doing it?

I am a Service Designer, mostly responsible for the design research process and facilitating co-creative sessions.

Futurice is still my first workplace after my studies. I started my creative journey by studying media and communication design in my Bachelor's, then diving into design thinking methods and design research in my Master's in design management. After that, my learning journey started at Futurice in 2018 in our Munich office. Now, I’ve just returned from my expat journey of almost two years at our Helsinki office, where I got to know the Finnish culture and work environment.

What would you like to accomplish in your professional life?

I want to have an impact on creating a more sustainable future for our society by helping our clients make the right decisions and be part of the right projects to do so. A thriving work environment and culture are important to me, and I want to be a part of my role to evolve and support building a great workplace for all.

I also love to meet and get to know new people and would like to use that strength to bring together and connect people in my future career.

Name three things you’ve learned in your career that you want to share with the world.

  1. “Keep calm” – Things are never as bad as they seem in the beginning. Best to take a step back, take a huge breath, and then try to deal with the situation/challenge at hand.
  2. “To-do lists are great” – when feeling overwhelmed with tasks, it helps to write them down and bring them into order. It’s my go-to method of dealing with stress and the feeling of never being able to finish all my tasks on time.
  3. “Nourish team culture” – value the people you work with. Having a positive and supportive team culture is the key to successful projects. Many people underestimate that.

Why go on an expat adventure to Finland?

Some may wonder why you would choose Finland as a place to live. Isn’t it cold and dark and quiet up there? Well, yes but also so much more.

I just wanted to make my dream of working abroad come true at some point in life! It didn’t matter too much where this would be as long as it was outside of Germany. So, in 2022, I packed my suitcases and took off for my adventure abroad in Helsinki. I enjoyed experiencing the northern and Finnish culture. Work-wise, it was an opportunity to experience a different, much bigger office structure and a very different work culture, especially on the client side. After working a lot in the automotive industry, I was able to work with other industries and topics, which was a great learning opportunity.

What would you like to bring from working in Finland to Germany and vice versa?

In Germany, things are very structured and follow a certain process, which I tried to bring a bit more of to our Finnish projects.

Finland has a very lean and calm work structure, which I enjoyed a lot. Work, even when stressful, feels quite manageable and relaxed, and everyone values work-life balance a lot. I would like to bring this lean, calm, and open work culture also back to our German office and clients. In Finland, you are much more on eye level with the clients and can openly discuss and communicate about challenges to find a solution together. Teams tend to move into the solution finding and discussion a lot sooner.

What would you like to be able to do more of?

Travel. I love exploring new places and meeting new people along the way. There are never enough vacation days, and I hope I can combine work and travel time a bit more in the future. I have a long list of places to see and activities to do while traveling.

What’s an activity you really enjoy?

I like trying out new things and also started quite some new hobbies while being abroad. Recent new hobbies are surfing and skateboarding, which hold nice new challenges and are much more difficult than expected.

I like doing yoga, and ballet dancing, and since I grew up and lived next to the mountains a lot, I love hiking and snowboarding as well.

What should be said out loud more often?

Don’t wait for things to happen by themselves or for someone to tell you what to do. Take action and drive things forward if they are important to you; don’t wait for others to do or start them for you. I’ve learned at Futurice to be proactive and self-organized when I want to achieve something or start something new, which also makes me think about the Nike slogan fitting quite well here: “Just do it.”


  • Portrait of Arttu Tolonen
    Arttu Tolonen
    Communications Specialist