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Tuija Talvitie

Tuija Kristiina Talvitie
Born August 29, Lapua

Master of Arts (English philology) 1987, University of Helsinki

Executive director 2009–, Crisis Management Initiative (CMI)
Executive director 1997–2009, British Council Finland
Exchanges Officer and Assistant Librarian 2 1987–97, British Council Finland

Board member 2005–, CMI
Steering group member, Counterpoint
Board member 2015­–, Demos Helsinki
Board member Think Tank e2
Delegation member of the University of Helsinki Alumni Association 2015–

Photo: Tuomo Manninen
Written by Riitta-Ilona Hurmerinta
Translated by Matthew Billington

“The world needs capable women as decision makers”

Tuija Talvitie wants to encourage women to take more risks and be braver in embracing their ambitions, because both men and women are needed in leadership positions.

– Women have a lot to offer in decision making. That does not mean that men are worse and women are better. What it means is that the balance between the sexes has to be more even at the executive level.

Crisis Management Initiative (CMI) is an unusual conflict resolution organisation in the sense that its executive team has more women than men. Talvitie says that this was not a conscious decision, it just happened.

– We have wanted different perspectives on the executive team, different kinds of people and different kinds of skills, because that is how you achieve the best combination. Research on conflict resolution has shown that when women’s involvement in the peace process is not merely symbolic, the results will be better.

Talvitie is concerned with the lack of female policymakers in Finland at the moment. Women on the boards of listed companies are likewise few and far between.

– If positions of leadership feel nerve-wracking, it is good to remember that perfection is not expected even of executives. Good leaders never know how to do things better than those working under them. People in those positions have to have high enough self-esteem to surround themselves with different types of people who are smarter and more capable than they are. The world needs capable women as decision makers.

Talvitie wants to emphasise that leadership is a lifelong journey. Executives must be humble enough to perceive their own limitations and willing to learn new things.

– Asking for feedback on your own performance as an executive is important. It is equally important is to develop yourself based on that feedback. For example, I have always been very energetic, which can even be construed as threatening. I have had to do a lot of work to learn how to listen and give space to others. I also strive to control my impatient nature.

CMI organised an international seminar in Helsinki in 2013, the topic of which was women’s participation and how to better consider them in peace processes. In the photo Tuija Talvitie is talking to CMI advisor C. Andrew Marshall (on the left) and Abou Moussa, who is currently working as the Special Representative of the Secretary General of the United Nations for Central Africa.


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