Merja Karhapää, appointed Chief Legal Officer, Group Legal Affairs of the Sanoma Group (until 1 October SanomaWSOY), Member of the Corporate Centre Management Group and Secretary of the Sanoma Board of Directors effective 1 August 2008. As Chief Legal Officer, Group Legal Affairs, Karhapää is responsible for Group legal affairs, particularly the co-ordination of Group level IPRs, competition matters as well as M&A and digital media law.
"Digitalisation changes the work of corporate lawyers a lot, and digitalisation-related legislation raises interesting new questions about linking, data protection, software patents, etc.," explains Karhapää. While digitalisation has transformed the Group's operating environment over the past few years, according to Karhapää, the force that has had the greatest impact on Sanoma from the inside has been internationalisation. "Internationalisation changes your operating procedures and brings with it the richness of operating in several markets. Understanding different cultures is an endless, but rewarding challenge," Karhapää reflects. Karhapää herself has been working in Britain and also familiar with Danish and Dutch working cultures.
Legal professionals do not work in a vacuum
Karhapää – who is very excited about the people and the media business – enjoys the broad scope of corporate legal affairs. "Such a job as this cannot be done in a vacuum. We are in constant and close contact with the businesses, strategy experts, finance and human resources," she continues. "In addition, Intellectual Property Rights and related protection strategies and tools are key factors affecting a media Group."
There is also close collaboration between the legal people working in different Divisions of the Group. "We meet at regular intervals to map possibilities for greater collaboration, and share experiences and expertise. We have got a great international legal team and sharing best practices is a key element of our operations and their development," describes Karhapää.
Merja Karhapää sees the strong value base and the variety of its operations as the core strengths of the Sanoma Group. "The Group runs steadily forward. Thanks to our multimedia portfolio, we have an excellent understanding of media."
Free time without schedules
Merja Karhapää's fascination with legal science began during her exchange year in the United States. "At school, we had a class called 'U.S. Government', which included a number of interesting court cases, some of which we acted out. That sparked my interest in law and inspired me to apply to the University of Helsinki," says Karhapää. A mother of two teenage sons, Merja Karhapää was born in the capital area and currently lives with her family in Espoo. In her free time she enjoys doing fun things at the spur of the moment. "My family, friends and personal well-being are most important to me, and help me to see things in a new light, out of the box" she adds.