• Name: Monika Liikamaa
  • Role: Director, Card & Mobile payments
  • Office: Helsinki
“- I have always worked. I love getting things done. There is value in working and doing the right thing.”

Do you get the creeps when managers churn out clichés like Failure is not an option and Make the impossible possible? Say hello to Monika Liikamaa, she can make you believe every cliché. Personally, she has her sights set on world domination.

A shock announcement: Monika Liikamaa and Steve Jobs have something in common. They both have a reality distortion field, i.e. the ability to use their charisma to make you believe every word they say.

In Monika's case, her charisma works like this: The more you learn about her background, the more credible everything she says appears. We're not talking about meticulously reading through Monika's impressive CV on LinkedIn, but about getting an insight into her personality in order to understand her inner drive.

To do this, we have to move to northern Sweden, specifically to Tornedalen.

As a 12-year-old, Monika helped out in the telephone exchange at Haparanda Taxi Ab, where her father is a co-owner. She also distributed advertising flyers and on Sundays she helped out in the reading room at Torneå library, where her mother worked as a librarian. Monika also worked as a correctional officer and at the age of 19 she began driving a taxi. At that time, she was the only female driver who worked in the evenings and at night.

- I have always worked. I love getting things done. There is value in working and doing the right thing. I probably learned that from my father. He is a workaholic, although he would probably say that I'm even worse, says Monika.

First Scandinavia, then the rest

In 1994, she met her husband in Haparanda at the checkout at ICA Max. "The choice of men is not very large up there, so if you meet someone interesting, you do something about it." After three years of studying she was a systems architect and in 1997 the couple moved to Helsinki. Today they have four children.

So when Monika casually remarks Make the impossible possible, it feels natural.

- For me, failure does not exist. I never give up, whatever it takes. I see possibilities in everything, and that can stress people sometimes. Put something in front of me and I will always do my utmost to make the best of it.

It is this driving force, combined with her sense of humour, which gives her the green light to give her operational manager at the card department, Andreas Björk, a T-shirt with the text I only have to deliver more, faster with higher quality.

- I'm very clear about what I expect.

This is most evident with regard to what Monika demands from herself: Always be the hardest worker in the room.

- My goal for Crosskey is world domination. The interim goal is that we should be the best service provider in the Nordic region. We don't have to be the biggest, but we should really be our customers' most valuable partner and we have already travelled a long way in achieving this.

For Monika's part, the journey with Crosskey began when she worked as the CIO at S-Bank where Crosskey is a solutions provider. After S-Bank had rapidly taken the Finnish market by storm, and running the IT had become too much business as usual for the entrepreneur Liikamaa, she was persuaded to come and build up the Card and Mobile Payments Business Unit at Crosskey.

Towards future payment solutions “- My goal for Crosskey is world domination. The interim goal is that we should be the best service provider in the Nordic region.”

There was much to do and time was short. A milestone was when Crosskey was PCI-DSS certified within 12 months of starting the PCI-DSS Compliance process. This was a prerequisite in order to be able to have direct connections to MasterCard and Visa Card Schemas. In the Nordic countries, only a few service providers such as Nets, Evry and Crosskey are certified.

- It was tough, but PCI-DSS certification raised the entire company to a new level of professionalism. For us, PCI-DSS certification was a mark of quality in everything we do. And we have already managed to have the certification renewed, something that many companies fail to achieve, says Monika.

She makes no secret of the fact that Crosskey's card service currently has momentum. The market is undergoing a transition, where many players wish to participate in the journey towards future payment systems.

- The important thing is that we are moving away from cash and that it is becoming easier for all of us to buy what we want. While the big players have problems with their PCI certification, Crosskey is a small, fast and flexible partner that is already connected to MasterCard and Visa.

At the same time, a card solution has been created which by definition is global. It can be sold anywhere. Yes, world domination...

One last question remains: Can Monika Liikamaa describe her enthusiasm without a leadership cliché? Of course she can.

- I am driven by working with others and succeeding in reaching the goals that people never thought possible. And that's what we have done and continue to do.

But naturally, that ambition can be expressed in another way:

Inspire others to be the best they can be.