Alumna Emilia Perttu: 'I had the courage to follow my dreams and put in the effort for what interested me'

Our alumna, Emilia Perttu has always known she wanted to work in the field of technology and innovation. Through her studies she started to search for a career path that suited her. Eventually, her efforts paid off, and today she works as a lead UI/UX designer at the hybrid agency Nitro.
Kuva Emilia Pertusta
Emilia Perttu, School of Business alumna

Who are you? What did you study at the School of Business and when did you graduate?

I am Emilia Perttu and I majored in Information & Systems Management in my bachelor’s studies and in my master’s, I studied in the cross-disciplinary International Design Business Management program. I graduated in the spring 2020.

What was your dream job when you were little?

In middle and high school, I always dreamt of a cross-disciplinary career, where I wouldn’t have to choose just one field. I’ve always had multiple things that interest me, but I always knew that I wanted my work to be around technology and innovations. I’ve always been a dreamer and thought that only the sky was the limit! One of my dream jobs as a child was to be an inventor – I had a notebook where I would draw and write my ideas and stories about my future inventions.

The IDBM program was truly a transformative experience in my career and life, and I would like to sing its praises to the skies!

Alumna Emilia Perttu
Emilia Perttu in KUJ
Emilia Perttu in KUJ

How was studying in general in the School of Business? How was the student life?

During my bachelor’s studies, studying was very independent. This made it possible to have a flexible schedule. On the other hand, studying was also challenging if you didn’t have a group to brainstorm the course topics with. 

In the IDBM-program the studies changed from independent to groupwork-based, which I enjoyed tremendously. We had a tight team spirit in the class, which I had missed during my bachelor’s studies where the class sizes are usually large. Furthermore, I thoroughly enjoyed the cross-disciplinary nature of the IDBM-program – the program was exactly what I had been dreaming about.

In addition, I enjoyed the student life. Right from the first year, I actively participated in the student community, involving myself in a range of activities including event organization, poster design, performing as a dancer in Speksi, and being a tutor. The student life taught me a lot and was an important part of my university experience.

How did your studies prepare you for the working life?

Primarily my studies taught me to learn, to research, and to think outside the box. I learned to handle big data and view myself, as well as the world around me, more critically. I learned about individual responsibility and the impact we have on everything around us. 

Moreover, I learned about possibilities – I was inspired and excited to learn all the things you can do in the world. And all the while there were intelligent and skilful people around me to guide and challenge my thinking. I also learned to have courage and to trust myself. I faced many challenges during my studies and overcoming them helped me to believe in myself and in my abilities to face challenges in the future.

What kind of a career path have you had?

During the first years of my studies, I loved everything that included computers and technology, but eventually I started to lose interest in fields that were purely business related. I’ve always had an eye for visual things and this way I took an interest in service design and visual designing in general. I set out to explore how I could combine my interdisciplinary interests, and the first step was the Information Technology Program (ITP) minor, where I was greatly inspired by its practical approach and seemingly tailor-made content that suited my needs perfectly.

After the ITP program I started to practice visual designing every chance I got. This naturally led me to apply for the IDBM master’s program. In IDBM I learned about service design and design thinking, which provided me tools to become a designer. We also had an Industry Project, where we consulted a company.

Emilia Perttu in Peru
Emilia Perttu in Peru

This experience was truly meaningful and prepared me for my current role in a marketing agency. The IDBM program was truly a transformative experience in my career and life, and I would like to sing its praises to the skies! I encourage all students to boldly explore diverse paths and pursue them!

As I mentioned earlier, I used to dream about being an inventor – Now I often think that a designer is kind of like an inventor! At the end of my studies, I worked as an UI/UX intern at Aalto IT Services, which served as the first touch to my own field. After the internship I got a job as a research assistant in NordKapp design agency. I knew that I should build a portfolio if I wanted to become a designer, but my business studies didn’t prepare me for it. So, I started building a portfolio independently – I took online courses in UI/UX design, and in doing so, added practice projects to my portfolio.

The effort I put into the portfolio paid off when I made it to Nitro as a UI/UX designer. After six months I was promoted to Lead Designer and this year a website re-design we planned ( received an honorable mention for the best user experience and secured a finalist position for the best service design and digital service in the Grand One competition, which is the biggest digital media competition in Finland.

I feel that my journey has been somewhat unconventional, and for example I never found a mentor at Aalto with a profile that quite matched my profile, which was a bit disappointing.  At the same time, I’m glad that I had the courage to follow my dreams and put in the effort for what interested me, and I encourage others to do the same. One academic path doesn’t necessarily lead to a certain outcome, especially if your interests change during your studies. I am truly proud of my career path and how I haven’t been discouraged, even though at times it felt challenging to follow my own path.

– Now I often think that a designer is kind of like an inventor!

Alumna Emilia Perttu

How did you end up in your current job? What kind of responsibilities and tasks does your job include?

I knew I wanted to work in a digital or advertising agency due to its variety and interesting clients, and I got a position at the hybrid agency Nitro. Nitro handles marketing, digital services, and film production, which has further diversified my understanding of various fields.

I currently work as a lead UI/UX designer. UI stands for User Interface, and UX stands for User Experience, so I design user interfaces and their user experiences. In practice, I mainly design websites and various digital services.

My projects and tasks are quite diverse. A typical project of mine involves website redesign, where we enhance usability and update the visual appearance to make it more modern and appealing. I research usability of services and consider what site structures would best serve user needs. At this point, I also consider business goals – I align them with the company’s strategy and think how a digital service could support this. My task is to find the best solution between the company’s goals, user needs, and technical feasibility, which can sometimes be challenging. Based on these thoughts, I eventually design visually polished user interfaces that are enjoyable to use and in line with the brand’s values and concept.

My workweek also includes a lot of communication with my team, as we collaborate to design various options for clients and share insights and industry news among ourselves. I also facilitate workshops for clients and lead internal digital design development efforts.

A typical workday for me consists of approximately 30-50 per cent of communication and meetings, and the rest of the time, I plan and advance client or development projects.

Emilia Perttu in Japan
Emilia Perttu in Japan

What have been the biggest challenges in the working life?

Accepting one’s imperfections. One of the greatest challenges as knowledge grows has been realizing that the more you learn, the more there is to learn. There will always be someone better than you in something, but at the same time, there is no one quite like you.

Another challenge has been time management, which has become easier over the years. In the beginning, I wanted to do everything, but nowadays, I strictly prioritize my well-being and maintain clear boundaries between work and other aspects of life. Perfectionism is a dangerous pitfall, and it’s essential to learn to move away from it. Sometimes it’s better to do something, even imperfectly, than to leave it undone out of fear of imperfection.

The most significant difference between my work life and studying, for me, has been the allocation of time. In the professional world, I engage in much more productive concrete work. There are clear expectations for me, for which I am compensated, and work results in clear outcomes, tight schedules, and constraints. During studies, I had more time for exploration, contemplation, dreaming, and experimentation – this is something I miss. In the professional world, one can and should engage in these activities, but they often take a back seat to other priorities. Fortunately, my job involves ideation and innovation, so in that sense, I can still engage in these activities, although often it’s on behalf of others rather than for myself.

What are the most significant trends shaping the working life of your field?

It probably won’t come as a surprise that artificial intelligence is one of the key trends. Work is becoming increasingly fast-paced and efficient. The significance of productive work is decreasing, while original thinking and emotion-based design are becoming more emphasized. The digital landscape is saturated with services, which means that innovation and differentiation require bold and substantial steps.

Responsibility and ethics are continually gaining prominence, which is purely a positive development. Accessibility and inclusive design have become basic requirements rather than optional additions. We are now thinking more comprehensively about people’s needs in design, considering diverse perspectives, constraints, and the construction of an equitable society.

Learn more about Emilia's career path and studies on LinkedIN!

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Here you can find School of Business alumni stories. Our alumni share their professional journeys and give advice and tips regarding working life. The stories have been sorted based on the alumni's majors. The newest publications are placed first in the major groups.

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