The weather in Boston is a whole different story compared to California. However, Katy Peters is still drawn to the beach and ocean throughout the year.
“I grew up in San Diego, California. The beach and the ocean feel like home to me, wherever I am. That is where I relax,” she says.
Finding time to relax is something Katy yearned for a few years back. Her work-life balance was off, and she was missing something, a more balanced life and a meaningful job that would align with her passions. The yearning to help others and have a well-rounded daily life eventually led Katy to Valamis.
Katy had barely learned to walk before she kicked her first football. By the age of three, football had become her number one hobby. A D1 football scholarship at the University of California, Santa Barbara carried her through college. However, it was not football that interested Katy in college, it was economics and human behaviour.
Katy recollects, “Initially, I went to school for economics, but then I found Global Studies. It is a major that bridges social science and humanistic approaches to analyse the social, cultural, political, environmental, and economic consequences of global flows, institutions, and processes. I started as an economics major, but I became fascinated by all the systemic influences on the economy, and how the economy interacts with behaviour, so I switched to Global Studies.”
After college, Katy continued to follow her passion for economics and completed an MBA. While still at school, she started her career by working for two businesses, one focused on political PR and the other on technology. Katy was eager to learn about the businesses and to help people.
“I got to work on projects for many famous political figures. I was mentored by powerhouse entrepreneurial women who had founded the companies. I learned so much from them, first and foremost about the power of listening.”
Though Katy studied international business, she had never really travelled outside her home country. When she graduated, she packed her backpack and left the US, first ending up playing soccer in Sweden, eventually visiting Thailand and enjoying the warmth. Besides warmth, she found something she would never have believed.
“I met a ‘Brit abroad’ on a bus in Thailand. Fast forward six years later and that Brit is my husband.”
In 2017, and back in California, Katy was working for a tech incubator working 80–100-hour work weeks and was hoping for a solution to her work-life balance. She and her future husband were planning to start a life together in Boston, which was closer to England than California, making family visits possible for both of them.
Katy shares, “I thought a career change could be a way towards a better work-life balance. It is important to believe in the work you do, so I started looking for something that truly means something to me.”
Katy browsed companies, stumbling upon Valamis on Glassdoor, which instantly piqued her interest. Working with learning technology in an international company excited Katy, whose love for learning new things had never ceased.
“The possibility to provide people with access to learning, to help people learn new things, really resonated with me. I believe accessible learning and education – helping people find their purpose at work – can help change the world.”
The interview for the position was like no other. Katy felt a sense of caring like never before. It was close to her birthday when she found out she got the job.
Five days before the start of her contract at Valamis, Katy and her husband loaded the car in San Diego with all their belongings and moved their life to Boston.
“It was Sunday when we arrived at our new apartment, and Monday was my first day at Valamis. It felt like a dream, commuting through a new city and riding on the subway,” she reminisces.
The onboarding process was partly done with Valamis’ own learning technology Valamis LXP. It felt unique, like something completely new. With the help of colleagues and coffee break chats, Katy quickly found her place in the company.
“There is a level of care that is pretty awesome. People are honest, humble, and blunt in a good way. The company provides a psychological safety net that makes space for ideas and discussion. It’s pretty different from the traditional American company culture I was used to, with its strong hierarchical boundaries. The company is also very internationally and culturally diverse.”
It’s been four years since Katy joined Valamis, and she has still not had a dull day.
“No day is the same in marketing because the landscape is constantly changing. For example, podcasts became a popular medium quite suddenly. To understand them better, I actually started experimenting on one with my husband as a lockdown hobby, and with travel on pause we decided to set an ambitious goal to explore different cultures by interviewing people from around the world.”
During her years at Valamis, Katy has experienced not only major professional but also personal growth.
As she explains, “My work has changed, yes, but so have I. I owe that to the people around me. I have been given opportunities, I have gained confidence, and I have grown as a person.”
The open company culture has supported not only Katy’s growth, but also a better work-life balance. A few years back Katy was at a company event, just a couple days prior to her wedding.
“I was so nervous about telling them that I needed to leave the event a day early for my wedding, a pretty big life event I would say. Actually, my colleague came to me and said, ‘just remember to have fun.’”
In 2019, Katy was asked to cover Nea, the head of global marketing, while she was on maternity leave. Back then, Katy was working as a marketing manager, operating in North America.
“I thought it was for three months, but then I was told it could be up to a year and a half. I could not believe it. There is such a difference between Finnish maternity leave and the leave in America.”
For months, the change of responsibilities was carefully prepared. In January 2020 Katy visited Finland to finish onboarding for the position of global head of marketing. Covid-19 was in the news but had not yet reached Europe, and the severity of it was still unknown.
“I started in the position in mid-February, and only a month later everything changed and everything I had prepared for was flipped upside down. There would be no events, and we needed to pivot fast.”
So there she was, in the middle of a global pandemic, taking over the position of global head of marketing. In just one year, the global marketing team grew in various positions, operating across five different countries, cultures, and time zones.
“It’s been a year of growth for me and the team. I love the Finnish word sisu. It describes the past year rather well.”
As global head of marketing, Katy tries to bring out people’s ideas, cultivate her team and learn something new every day. She has switched from operating in North America to managing global marketing and recruiting new talents to the team.
“I work with people on analytics, strategy, content, design, website, digital marketing, analyst relations, products, and more. Everyone has been very supportive. I would say that we are a bunch of not normal people, all with unique peculiarities from our unique cultures – working together on a global team.”
As a child, Katy never really had a dream job – she just knew her core purpose, to help people.
“When I was a child, my current job did not exist. There was no such thing as marketing for a digital learning technology company. I think it is an impossible question to ask kids what they want to be when they grow up when technology is changing roles faster than the time it takes to grow up. Purpose matters more. My purpose has always been to help people, and using technology to help more people learn seems like a pretty great way to help people,” she clarifies.
Learning new things is what Katy does in her spare time, too. When she is not playing chess or taking a course on the science of wellbeing, or trying to figure out what defines happiness, she is learning to paint the waves of the ocean, walking around Boston with her dog Gimli, or travelling to new places or to family and friends in California and the UK.
Learning, after all, has been Katy’s way of helping others.
“The more you learn, the more things open up. I think that the more I know, the better I can help other people and connect more dots. When you know your why, your purpose, you can then practice it in several ways.”
Writer: Eveliina Salomaa
Photographer: Lyndsay Hannah