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From diverse paths to a shared future in IT: Reija and Issam’s story

The professional journey of Advisor and former Practice Lead Reija Jokinen and ServiceNow Consultant Issam Sersar showcases the real impact of effective mentorship and the power of a supportive work environment. Their story is more than just career progression; it’s about how a shared passion for IT and a commitment to learning can forge a strong mentoring bond. Inside Sofigate, they’ve not only advanced their careers but also developed a mutually beneficial relationship, exemplifying the company’s ethos of growth, collaboration, and nurturing talent.

Reija Jokinen

Based in Finland, Advisor Reija Jokinen’s journey to Sofigate – via Academic Work’s AW Academy – began with a rich background in IT. With nearly two decades of experience in a hotel chain IT department, Reija’s career was marked by a blend of technical expertise and a growing interest in guiding others. The pivotal moment came when her role became redundant in 2018. 

“The hotel chain was sold and consequently my job more or less simply disappeared,” Reija describes bluntly. 

Prompted to look for new opportunities, Reija, as by chance, saw an ad for AW Academy in her social media feed on multiple occasions. After a piqued interest albeit much debate she finally decided to apply and discovered a platform not only to refine her own skills but also to embrace her inherent passion for teaching and mentorship. 

A few years later in 2022 in Denmark, ServiceNow Consultant Issam Sersar was also seeking new employment opportunities. His career had started in the disciplined world of the Danish military, serving in the Queen’s Guard and later as a military police officer. After leaving the military, Issam found himself navigating various jobs, from customer service to sales. His interest in IT always remained present, and the decisive moment came with the discovery of the AW Academy and their 12-week accelerated learning program. Despite uncertainties, Issam’s determination led him to enroll in the intensive training. 

It was here Reija’s and Issam’s paths crossed for the first time. 

Issam Sersar

Navigating the roller coaster and forging a bond 

Reija, who by now had become an instructor for the trainings, met her new student, Issam, during the foundational studies of his intensive course. As an AW alumni herself, Reija always empathises with new students, who struggle to hang onto the same roller coaster she had ridden years prior.  

“The courses are really hard, both mentally and physically. I know how the students feel and they are all close to my heart: I always make sure to tell them I am only a ping away, whatever their need is.” 

For Reija, Issam’s dedication and aptitude were immediately evident, while Issam found in Reija a mentor who could demystify the complexities of IT. Coincidentally, Issam became particularly interested in integrations during his training – which happened to be one of Reija’s main areas of interest within IT as well. 

Reija vividly recalls a moment during the academy’s integrations week when a colossal book about integrations was showcased by her colleague. In a moment of pure excitement, she promptly ordered the hefty opus. To her astonishment, when she later conversed with Issam, he revealed that he too had purchased the very same book. 

“It’s one of those really heavy and dense nerdy books,” Issam describes with a laugh. 

With time, Reija’s and Issam’s connection at the academy became the beginning of a mentorship bond that would extend beyond the training course and into their professional lives at Sofigate.  

Dream jobs and endless possibilities 

The transition from AW Academy to Sofigate marked a significant step for both Reija and Issam. Reija, with her wealth of experience and an intrinsic passion for teaching, found herself thriving in an environment that valued growth and learning. She took on multiple roles within Sofigate, evolving from an advisor and practice lead to an integration specialist. 

“In integrations, I’m now in my third dream job at Sofigate. The company encourages you to grow, learn and sometimes even jump into the unknown. I really love it here,” Reija says, as she reflects on her professional journey at Sofigate so far. 

Issam, on the other hand, embarked on his journey in the tech world, fueled by his newfound passion for IT and integrations.

Joining Sofigate as a consultant in Denmark, he quickly realized the potential for growth and development within the company. The mentorship he received from Reija played a crucial role in this journey, enabling him to navigate the complex landscape of IT with confidence and curiosity. 

“The mentoring has really been uplifting in the sense of learning but also in advancing as an IT professional,” Issam says. He continues with reflecting on Sofigate as an employer: “My time at Sofigate has been life-changing, endless possibilities with no restraints. The company invests a lot in their people.” 

Mutual growth through mentorship 

Reija’s and Issam’s weekly remote mentoring sessions, while initially focused on integrations and ServiceNow, evolved into comprehensive learning experiences. These sessions provided a platform for both Reija and Issam to share knowledge, experiences, and insights, fostering a unique bond that benefitted both mentor and mentee. 
“When I was prepping Issam for his interview for a position in integrations, I asked him what it would mean for him to get the job. He said ‘everything’, and I told him to tell them that,” Reija says with warmth in her voice and her eyes tearing up. 

On February 1, 2024, Issam started his new position in our integrations team and works alongside Reija, with him still in Denmark and Reija in Finland. The pair continues to have weekly mentoring sessions booked in their calendars. 

Want to join the journey? See our open positions!