Eeva Hietanen
Eeva Hietanen started working in communications at the Port of Helsinki in 1990.

“The port lies at the heart of the Finnish economy”

Text: Juha Peltonen
Image: Roni Rekomaa

When Eeva Hietanen started working in communications at the Port of Helsinki in 1990, she remembers telling her colleagues how regrettable it was that no one outside the port really knew what it did. Hietanen believed that good communications could change that.

Now that she left her position as the port’s communications manager, Hietanen thinks that the general public are still largely unfamiliar with the port’s workings.

“Even though a great deal has been done, I don’t see much evidence to show that we’ve made any significant progress,” says Hietanen.

The average Finn still doesn’t really know what the port does.

“The port lies at the heart of the Finnish economy. The impact of our operations is quite simply supranational.”

City office a good background

When Hietanen joined the port as a publicist, she had been working for Helsinki-info at the city office. It was a hotline that people could call when they wanted advice about who did what for the City.

“This experience at the city office provided me with a great background for these tasks. I quickly gained a good understanding of how both the City and its decision-making worked.”

Hietanen was rehired by City Hall for three years at the turn of the millennium in order to lead Helsinki’s 450th anniversary project, after which she returned to her role as the port’s communications manager.

“At the port, you can both see and feel how Finland is doing.”

Port communications have several mutually exclusive target groups. Both consumers and logistics companies use the port’s website, but they’re searching for different kinds of information. There has also been an increase in influencer communications and residents’ need for information, and this is important for the port. Hietanen says there is a prevailing sense of concern over whether policymakers are fully informed about the things they are deciding on.

Port communications have several mutually exclusive target groups.

“Good relations with City Hall have been a top priority for every CEO. However, that doesn’t always translate to direct support for the port’s projects. For example, we were left almost completely alone in our fight for Vuosaari Harbour. But once the foundation stone was laid, everyone was telling us how they’d always considered the project to be important,” says Hietanen, laughing.

The port is an integral aspect of urban planning. Slow processes also require staying power from the port’s stakeholders. “People on the corporate side don’t always understand that the decision-making really is that slow. Urban planning reveals Helsinki’s complexity. There can be several projects in the pipeline – some of which may even be conflicting.”

Continually evolving communications

There was no email and no internet when Hietanen joined the port. Communications have been continually evolving throughout her career – and will continue to do so.

“Communications is one of those areas in which you have to keep jogging all the time just to keep up. We’re in the midst of both a technological and a cultural revolution. Next up is AI, which will bring major changes to how we work. These new things are a lot of fun, but we also need to be knowledgeable about information security and copyright,” says Hietanen.

Industry networks (such as Mervi), maritime communications specialists and the international organisation Wista (Women in shipping and trading) have all played an important role in her work.

“When your own unit is fairly small, it’s even more important to have access to communications organisations and other networks – some of which you have to create yourself. I spent 20 years developing Finnish and Helsinki cruise traffic and its associated collaboration. And that’s an area in which networking is essential,” says Hietanen.


  • Eeva Hietanen has an MA, a CBM diploma, a leadership diploma, and a degree in marketing for public administration.
  • She left her position as the Port of Helsinki’s Communications Manager on 10 May 2024.
  • She enjoys the French language and culture.