Interviews & Opinion

How Colossal Order's Mariina Hallikainen became a game studio CEO right out of university

How Colossal Order's Mariina Hallikainen became a game studio CEO right out of university

Today is International Women's Day and to mark the occasion, we have decided to highlight some of the incredible women working in the games industry

Colossal Order's Mariina Hallikainen tells us how her first job in the industry was the CEO of a games company 

Can you tell us about your current role and what it entails?

I’m the chief executive officer at Colossal Order Ltd. My role is all about making sure the company performs to the best of its ability now and in the future. That means I have various tasks from day to day operations to long terms strategic planning and goals.

What did you study (if anything) that helped you get into games? What courses would you advise for aspiring professionals interested in your areas of expertise?

I studied Automation Engineering which is not that related to my current job. However, I had a minor in Industrial Management which has been helpful with running a company. Courses like Speech Communication and Negotiation Skills, Business Management, Business Development, Organisations and Leadership as well as Management Accounting are good for any upcoming entrepreneur regardless of the field of the business.

Where did you get your start in games and how did you progress into what you're doing now? Is this something you ever imagined yourself doing?

Back in 2009, I took the job of CEO of Colossal Order on the invitation of a high school friend who wanted to start his own game company with three other game industry professionals. At the time I was a university student and knew only little about games, but they needed someone who they trusted to handle the business side. I figured making games can’t differ that much from developing and selling any other product. I spent six months contacting games industry veterans in Finland to learn everything needed to start and run a game company. I never imagined myself to be part of the games industry, but now I can’t imagine myself elsewhere.

What part of your role do you find most fulfilling?

Money and fame.

Do you think there are any misconceptions, public or professional, surrounding your area of expertise?

CEO position is usually well understood or maybe people don’t dare to question it.

Is there anything about the job/industry you wish you would have known when first joining?

Funnily enough, I can’t think of anything. I came to the industry with zero expectations and I was asking questions from people I thought might know the answers. As a co-founder of a company, I had the opportunity to create a work environment that supports my values of healthy company culture.

What other advice do you have for someone looking for a job in this profession?

Ask questions, seek mentorship and learn from your peers.

Is there anyone in the games industry (or anyone else in general) who inspires you? 

My team inspires me every day. Colossal Order has exceptionally talented and friendly people who I love to work with.

PCGamesInsider Contributing Editor

Alex Calvin is a freelance journalist who writes about the business of games. He started out at UK trade paper MCV in 2013 and left as deputy editor over three years later. In June 2017, he joined Steel Media as the editor for new site In October 2019 he left this full-time position at the company but still contributes to the site on a daily basis. He has also written for, VGC, Games London, The Observer/Guardian and Esquire UK.