Soile Roste, the new Aalto EIT Services financial specialist
“I’m an Aalto veteran: I’ve been in the house for 17 years, now. I actually started when Aalto University was not yet called Aalto”, reveals Soile. “I’m thriving here: there is definitively an Aalto spirit and I'm part of it. It's difficult to define it precisely but I can feel it: the mix of innovation, collaboration, and human contact”. She continues: “I’ve been a controller for the last 10 years of my career working on national, European, and international projects at Aalto, successfully guiding heads of departments, activity leaders, and project bearers through the meanders of financial rules and regulations.”
Soile joined the Aalto EIT services already in January 2021. After an in-depth training with the all-time champion, highly-experienced, reigning controller Päivi Saarinen who will retire soon, Soile is taking over her duties. On the paper, her job might seem pretty straightforward: ensuring the financial conformity of all the Aalto EIT-related projects and activities with the corresponding applicable European legislation. “Actually, my job starts from the very beginning of a project, during the application phase, and goes all the way to the project’s life, with a long-lasting follow-up that can take years in some cases”, says Soile. “We controllers have to monitor a wide range of financial issues, in addition, to remain up-to-date with the ever-changing rules of the different European funding bodies. My job is to create the smoothest possible financial path for all the projects that I’m involved with”, she adds. Her aim? Reach full financial transparency, visibility, and conformity in all the Aalto University activities funded by the EIT. For Soile, “controlling makes the relationship with the funders much healthier: all goes according to the agreed plan, without any surprise for the parties involved”. And while you may think that a controller is busy twice a year when projects open or close, the reality is quite different: “I monitor projects on a daily basis, under a “control and prevention” strategy. It’s a demanding, time-consuming process but we’re better safe than sorry”, muses Soile.
Soile Roste, financial specialist at the Aalto EIT Services
We know where to hunt for the latest European funding rules, guidelines and regulations.
Anyone who has taken part in a European project will tell you the same thing: one of the most difficult things when dealing with European funders is to find the relevant applicable information. And this gets crucial when it comes to finance-related questions. “This is when controllers step in”, explains Soile. “We know where to hunt for the latest European funding rules, guidelines and regulations. We know how to interpret them and how to make them applicable to the projects under our care. We are in constant contact with activity leaders and project bearers. For my part, I have extensive knowledge in EIT funding, especially when it comes to EIT Digital, EIT Raw Material, and EIT Manufacturing. We also benefit at Aalto from state-of-the-art training on financial issues, provided by the RES team”, she goes on.
Could an activity leader lead their project without a controller? “Well, you always can”, says Soile, “but if you make one financial mistake it can cost you a lot. A financial mistake is damageable to your project but it also jeopardizes the trust of European funders towards Aalto University. My job is to prevent that!”