View from the corner office: Interview with Markus Laurio, CEO of Paytrail

Kirsti Earl Written by Kirsti Earl - Sep 6, 2013

The last 12 months have marked significant changes for Paytrail. In October of last year our company, then called Suomen Verkkomaksut, decided to make some organizational changes and chose Markus Laurio to lead the company as its CEO. To date we haven’t published any comments from our new CEO and it’s high time we did.

While preparing for my interview with Markus, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to ask him. What would be relevant and interesting? Not only to me but also to you, the readers. I had started with a list of questions to ask such as “what is your strategy for the company?” or “what style of management do you use?” and the more I added like questions to my list the more unsatisfied I became. So I went to online for inspiration and stumbled onto a website that referenced The Corner Office by Adam Bryant – top CEOs share leadership lessons they learned. I got the chance to read some excerpts of his book (thank you Amazon!) and was impressed by his interviewing style. It helped me refocus and create an interview with a personal touch, one that I hope you will enjoy reading.

Me: What's the most important thing that's happened to you over the last three years, something that's really changed your life?

Markus: There really isn’t anything personally, so professionally it was becoming CEO of Paytrail. I had been a member of the board at Paytrail since 2008. So I knew the company, but the position is different.

I have been the CFO for big international companies who operated in completely different industries than Paytrail. This industry is growing rapidly and there are lots of possibilities. The employees at Paytrail are younger, they seem to have real enthusiasm and seem inspired to work here. People seem happy to come to work and happy as they leave. The working environment has been the biggest change.

Me: What have you done that you are really proud of?

Markus: I am proud of Paytrail. As the CEO whatever happens within the company, whether its success or failure, rests on my shoulders regardless if I’ve earned it or not. That’s how the CEO’s performance is measured.

I am happy I was given free range to run the company, essentially given the keys to make the company successful. I am proud of the achievements that have been made so far - to see the history and see the work that has been done. To think in 2007 there were only a handful of people and look at us now, 38 people and a new product. With a smaller group of people it’s been easier to connect people with the working being done and see how each individual makes an impact.

Me: What do you attribute your success to?

Markus: Three things in no particular order:

  1. It’s important to understand business practices. It helps to know the big picture of how the business works and a financial background supports this.
  2. Have the ability to lead people, for me that is very important. Team sports and coaching have been a part of my life and I see some comparisons. For example, in team sports as well as in leading a company to achieve a goal you need a good working team, different people with different personalities who can come together and work for a common goal.
  3. To be honest, you need to want the position. To be willing to give lots of your time for work. For some it can be hard because you have less time for hobbies and family. Work is a big part of my life. I enjoy it, it’s not a sacrifice or burden.

Me: How did you learn to do what you do?

Markus: There’s a learning curve. What made me what I am started at home at an early age. I owe much of my self-confidence to my parents.

Me: Do you have a personal motto or a phrase that holds special meaning/importance?

Markus: It’s important to do your best and that is always enough.

Me: What lessons have you learned that you can share with others?


  • If you are in a managerial position it’s important to allocate much of your time to your employees.
  • Remember that there is always a more capable person out there.
  • Listen to others before making a decision but then be able to make the decision.
  • Be good with people and be open to learn more. Remember not everyone is the same.
  • Develop yourself, never stop learning.

Me: Who are the best people you recruited and developed and where are they today?

Markus: I recall a young lady who graduated from an applied sciences university with an accounting degree. When I was the CFO, I gave her an internship where she started out creating reports for me. She was good with numbers, clever and a nice person but needed some work with her people skills. I mentored her in developing these skills. During her 5 years there, she advanced into more challenging positions and ended up being the Group Controller. Now she is working as a CFO for a small company.

Me: Why did you choose to become the CEO of Paytrail?

Markus: I enjoy challenges. In my last position as CFO, the company was going through a merger and I felt that it was a good phase to start something new. I felt I had the capabilities to take on this challenge – a new position, in a new industry. I wanted to test my limits.

My focus is on the people. The key aspect to being a CEO is to get the best out of people. It’s nice to see things going successfully. I really have enjoyed the experience so far.

Me: What is your personal work ethic, and how does this affect the company culture of Paytrail?

Markus: I have worked in more traditional industries with an older generation where work is ones whole life. The younger generation here has a different work ethic, work is only one aspect of life. It seems that work is like a second home for people; they genuinely want to be here. People are more effective when they like where they work, where they can be themselves and are appreciated. It’s important to work for a common goal, we’re in the same boat and all need to row in the same direction.

Me: What's the biggest challenge you feel our company faces?

Markus: Our biggest challenge is also a big opportunity: internationalization. We are doing it by trail and error and we are ready to be successful.

Me: What do you want to be remembered for?

Markus: That I was fair, that’s important to me.

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