HSMAI Profile: Kaisla Saastamoinen

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Kaisla Saastamoinen

PA to CEO & President / Coordinator

HSMAI Europe

Kaisla is officially starting with HSMAI Europe on 1 August and will be a Personal Assistant to Ingunn Hofseth, as well as help coordinate meetings, webinars and events of HSMAI Europe.

Originally from Finland, Kaisla has a Hilton background, having most recently worked as a trainer at the Hilton London Metropole. Besides working full-time in HSMAI Europe, this autumn Kaisla will also be continuing her studies, from a Bachelor’s Degree to a Master’s degree in Hospitality Management. The study schedule consists mostly of independent and online studies, allowing her to combine full-time work with two days of contact lessons each month.

Q: What does a day at work consist of for you?

A: I will be lucky enough to mostly plan my own working days, as long as they are productive, so I assume those at the home office, true to my Finnish roots, will consist of sipping lots of coffee (we are big coffee lovers) and writing emails, planning events, organising webinars and conference calls, and talking on Skype, whereas other ones will be filled with travelling, meeting inspiring people in meetings, and getting to know the industry leaders in different events that HSMAI Europe organises.

Q: What’s the best part of your job?

A: I have already gotten a glimpse of the best part when working as a volunteer for HSMAI Europe, and it is to be surrounded by so many motivating, intelligent and innovative people. It is rare to have a job that for a great part consists of meeting and discussing with the industry leaders, so I feel very lucky to have this position. As an added bonus I get to travel with work, which I have not previously been able to do.

Q: Do you have anyone you’ve looked up to?

A: It might sound like a cliché but I would say my parents. When growing up they taught me to question things, to stay as neutral as possible until I form my own opinion based on thorough analysing, thinking and researching. They never told me which political or religious views I should adopt, and they respect everyone’s right to their own opinions and beliefs. Due to that I learned to look at things from different sides without judgment and then form my own opinions. I think it is a great advantage and has helped me to naturally respect and get along with all kinds of people.

Q: Do you have any nice traditions at your office?

A: Working mostly from a home office, I am certainly looking forward to ending many a working day with a nice hot sauna!

Q: What do you think is the best thing about HSMAI?

A: I am still to discover more about HSMAI, but so far I have to say the best thing I have seen is that HSMAI is impartial and objective, which enables the industry leaders to truly come together and work as one, as opposed to competing with each other. For example the Advisory Board meetings are filled with people who want to help the industry to unite and to lift each other up, there are no personal agendas that anyone is trying to push through.

Q: Are there any activities or projects you think HSMAI should start up?

A: I think I will need a little more time to familiarise myself with all the activities to be fully able to answer this one. However I will be happy to see HSMAI Europe take on the Mentoring Program; that would be something I would personally love to be involved in.

Q: Describe your perfect weekend.

A: Ah, that’s an interesting one. I have two ideal ones: one would be in Finland at a remote summer cottage in the middle of a forest, preferably with no electricity or running water (unless it’s winter!), to be playing cards, going to the sauna, swimming in the lake. And the other, equally lovely, would be one in London: sleep long, going for breakfast omelette and pancakes in this lovely cosy café called Ivy’s Mess Hall, having a walk in the city, and later on watching movies in bed while knitting. Not very hip now is it? I really like relaxing on weekends.

Q: If you were trapped on a desert island, what would you take with you, if you could choose just one thing?

A: Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace. Great book and would be best to be read with no other obligations to interrupt!

Q: What is your next travel destination?

A: It will be good old Finland! I will do a little road trip through Germany, Denmark and Sweden to Finland, spend a few days there, and then drive back to London.

Q: Do you have any special hobbies?

A: Besides meeting my friends and travelling, I really love reading and knitting in my free time. Both are good ways to unwind and relax and spend some time on my own. Unlike most Finnish friends of mine I never knitted anything in school, as I did wood work instead, so I only learned to knit a couple of years ago on my own. I am not great at it yet, but I am planning to become a pro by the time I will be retired. In hindsight I should have started a register with what I have knitted for which friend and relative, as this Christmas I am afraid of giving the same people socks as I did last year.

Q: Thank you for your time. Do you have any personal comments?

A: I would like to wish everyone a great weekend and I hope to meet many of you in person soon!