Pauliina Seppälä is Kone Foundation’s new Communications Director

Kuva/photo: Pirjo Tuominen

Pauliina Seppälä, MSSc, has been appointed Communications Director of Kone Foundation. She started her work on August 1, after previous director Heljä Franssila moved to a position with another organization.

Pauliina Seppälä’s experience in communications is extensive. She is known especially as a community builder and a founder and leader of digital platforms, together with colleagues at the Yhteismaa association and crowdfunding company Yhteisörahoituspalvelu Oy.

Seppälä began her work as a journalist in the 1990s. She joined Kone Foundation after working in the communications department of regional development consulting company MDI Public.

Seppälä’s personal interests lie close to the Kone Foundation mission too, through her hobbies of painting, writing and dancing, as well as through her experience in sociological research, which focused mainly on drug culture.

Her previous work was based on strong social vision and ethics, which resonate with the values of Kone Foundation. Seppälä has creatively employed digital technology to offer all kinds of people new opportunities to meet and to participate in building the world together. This has included increasing financial support received by cultural creators and civic actors through crowdfunding.

At times, Seppälä has used her skills for activism: among other things, she started a social movement to raise the wages of early childhood education workers, and she founded a Facebook group and network to support asylum seekers.

The central mission of Kone Foundation’s communications is to make visible the work of grant recipients, as well as to promote the Foundation’s vision of free research, art and culture so that they may flourish in an ecologically and socially sustainable Finland. This includes actively seeking to bring about changes on behalf of the forementioned freedoms.     

Kone Foundation strives to promote diversity and develop a sense of community. Each year, the grants awarded by the Foundation enable long-term and independent professional work for approximately 1,000 researchers and artists.

“I’m already feeling for those who either get a grant, or get rejected, in our autumn application.” – Four questions for Pauliina

You have worked for a long time as an independent entrepreneur and on your own projects. How does it feel to commit to work for one employer?

There’s a time for everything. When I was younger, it was important for me to work on my own ideas. That need has actually completely disappeared. I am also not so restless now, and it’s great to land in a clearly framed job and community. This is, of course, supported by the fact that the world of Kone Foundation and its grantees is so wide and meaningful. It feels good to limit my professional activities to this.

Your style of working has sometimes been very open and interactive: you have brainstormed ideas publicly on social media and allowed many different people to participate in ideation. Are you interested in hearing the views of all kinds of people through Kone Foundation’s communications?

Definitely interested! I look forward to receiving opinions and ideas. One question anyone can consider is how to make visible the work of the grant recipients when there can be more than a thousand of them at a time. Or how to build a meaningful sense of community for a group of this size. The large number of grant recipients is of course also a communication opportunity.

Do you know how it feels to receive a grant? Or not to?

Both! The first is, of course, a big celebration. But rejection is always a huge disappointment, and I have to admit that I have taken the rejections way too personally. I’m already feeling for those who either get a grant, or don’t, in our autumn call. Fortunately, I can’t influence the decisions. They are made by external evaluators and the board.

You are a little bit of an activist as well, and we are now living in difficult times. How do you see the role of foundations and especially Kone Foundation in relation to world challenges and conflicts?

I am grateful to be in a place where good things can really be promoted. The independence of foundations from both politics and commercial interests is important, especially as authoritarianism increases. Kone Foundation has established its own solid principles, which treat art and research as important in their own right, and fosters their freedom as an absolute necessity. This creates space for all kinds of countercultural and alternative ways of thinking and being. I see some of this as a way to create lifestyles and identities for the future, for a socially and ecologically sustainable world.

Pauliina is active in social media and promises to post also about Kone Foundation and her work. We recommend following and interacting with her!