Jukka Mäkelä

Jukka Mäkelä, Mayor of Espoo and the School of Engineering's Alumnus of the Year in 2018, believes in the power of collaboration and teamwork.
Jukka Mäkelä

Tell us a little bit about yourself and your career path.

I come from Tapiola in Espoo and was given the second name Tapio in honour of that. My career path started in Etelä-Tapiola upper secondary school from where I moved on to study materials science and rock engineering at Helsinki University of Technology (TKK) until I graduated with a Master of Science (Tech.) in 1992.

Involvement in associations was something that I got interested in while still at university. The position of chair of the Helsinki University of Technology student union (TKYH) in 1988, in particular, was one that definitely had a bearing on my future career. After my graduation, I worked for Academic Engineers and Architects in Finland TEK, where I was in charge of the areas of education, research and employment. Finally, my career path took me to the Espoo City Council and Espoo City Board and in 2007, to Parliament. In 2011, I started in my current position, as the mayor of my hometown Espoo.

How did you end up studying your field of choice?

Actually, it’s quite a typical story: my father was a university-educated engineer and I followed in his footsteps. When I was studying at university, Tamrock was the world’s leading rock drill manufacturer, and I used to dream about having a career there after graduation.

What is your best memory from your student years?

Although I have a lot of great memories from my student years, I have to say that the very best ones are from when I was chair of TKYH-88. I learnt a lot, made friends for life, and had a great time. Even today, we meet up every summer with the then board members and our loved ones.

What is the most valuable thing you learned at university which has helped you in your professional life?

The most important skill has been gaining an understanding of the importance of cooperation. This is something I brought with me to my current position as Mayor of Espoo: pulling together for Espoo is at the core of our work. Our best resources are the people, communities and companies.

Another takeaway from my university years is humour: sometimes it's good to lighten things up with a little humour and smile at yourself as well.

Tell us something surprising about yourself.

I’m still a student at Aalto: I’m pursuing the Aalto Executive MBA programme.

What should everyone experience once in their lifetime?

Everyone should have the courage to put themselves on the line for something and give it their all.

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