When and what did you study at Aalto University School of Business?
I started my studies in 1976 and graduated already in the beginning of 1979.
During that time, it was possible to graduate in such a short time. My majors were marketing and business law.
In which positions have you worked after graduation?
I did my whole career, altogether 30 years, in the S Group. I started in the trainee program, after which I worked in several managerial positions, as the Department Store Director, as the Marketing Director and in other director-level tasks.
During the last years of my career, I acted as the CEO of HOK-Elanto and lastly, as the CEO of SOK.
What do you currently do?
I act as the chairman of the board in Veho Oy and Yliopiston Apteekki, and as a member of the board in Metsäliitto and in Metsä Tissue. In addition, I act as the vice-chair in few foundations.
In what ways have the studies been useful for your career?
Studies at the School of Business gave me good basic knowledge and a framework to proceed into the working life. The actual leadership skills and deep knowledge developed only after years of work experience.
Any thoughts on studying?
Consider your study time to be more than just acquiring knowledge from books and lectures. It is also the time when you have the chance to create life-long networks and friendships to support you in the future.
Moreover, you have the opportunity to learn important leadership and self-management skills, and learn about the importance of interaction. You should really pay attention to these things!
Remember that the choice of your major subject does not determine your fate for good, but obviously, it can affect your career path.
The key factor in creating your networks is to attend events where you can meet new people and be active in discussions.
What is the significance of grades?
You should not study only in order to receive good grades, but in order to learn.
When recruiting, the employers will hardly ask for your grades – however, concentrating on your studies will give you better chances to succeed in the working life.
How does the work experience gained during the studies affect your career later on?
The summer jobs during your studies are extremely important in getting your first permanent job.
With the experience gained from the summer jobs, you can show you are active and responsible, and you might have the chance to receive a job opportunity within the same employer.
I had a summer job as a furniture retailer during the whole study time.
Your advice for the students who reflect on their studies?
Find out about the daily routines of different jobs and professions: the pros and cons, what is included in the job, what kinds of responsibilities there are, does the job include traveling and so on.
When you know where you are aiming, you can plan your studies to support your future job in the best possible way.
Any thoughts about the business world?
The world and different businesses are under a great pressure for change, for various reasons. Digitalization is not the least, as it affects every organization.
In order to cope in these changes, you should keep your mind open, acquire knowledge broadly, and adjust yourself to new situations.
What do networks mean to you?
It is always easier to contribute to matters with someone you know.
Networks are not formed on their own, but to create them, you should spend some time already during your studies. The key factor in creating your networks is to attend events where you can meet new people and be active in discussions.
Many students worry about finding their first job in the field. Do you have any advice for them?
Activity in applying summer jobs, and hard-working, brave attitude make a lot in the employer’s eyes.
You act as an Alumni Ambassador at Aalto University School of Business. What does being an alumnus mean to you?
For several years, I have acted as a member in the HSE Foundation board, and thus, been well aware of the School’s development. Alumni activities have also been discussed very often in the board meetings.
School’s alumni activities provide former students an excellent channel to keep up with the developments and events. At the same time, they allow the School to utilize the knowledge of former students.
Read more about the School of Business alumni cooperation and about the other Alumni Ambassadors who, like Arto Hiltunen, are involved in developing the School’s alumni activities: www.aalto.fi/school-of-business/school-of-business-alumni-ambassadors.