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Alumni Ambassador's story: Kari Janhunen

Internships abroad spurred our alumnus Kari Janhunen to seek work abroad. He has spent 20 years of his work career abroad in different positions within international finance.
School of Business Alumni Ambassador Kari Janhunen

 

When and what did you study at Aalto University School of Business?

I started my studies at the former School of Economics in the year 1965, and I graduated in 1969.

I completed the Master’s degree in 1975, in addition to the Program for Management Development at Harvard Business School in 1982.

What jobs have you held after your graduation?

In the years 1970–1971, I worked as a System Designer at Kesko, from where I switched to Kansallis-Osake-Pankki as a company researcher until 1975. After this, I moved to London where I acted as the Manager of Nordic Bank.

In the beginning of 1980, I switched to being responsible of the Finnish area at the Nordic American Banking Corporation in New York.

Working abroad continued in Singapore, as the Responsible Manager of Nordic Bank during the year 1983, after which I was establishing an office for Kansallis-Osake-Pankki (KOP) in Singapore in 1984–1985. After this, I was the Head of KOP in London for four years, and then I returned to Finland to act as the Manager of KOP in Helsinki until 1992.

Between 1993–1995, I acted as the Financial Manager and Member of the Board at Repola Ltd, and until 1999 as the Financial Manager at Rauma Ltd.

During the years 2000–2006, I worked at the Finnish Embassy in Washington, being in charge of the Finpro office.

I retired in the summer of 2006 after returning from Washington. After my retirement, I have still acted as a volunteer in different tasks and followed the financial markets.

How have the studies been advantageous to you in your work career? What is the significance of your major subject? What about the grades?

My two majors, finance and economics, have held a pivotal role in choosing between different job opportunities and in developing a constant interest towards economics in Finland and abroad.

No one has ever asked me about my grades after the studies.

Share something memorable from the time when you were studying.

The most memorable moments from the time of my studies are the activities in the School’s student organization KY and the internship summers in Germany and USA.

The latter, spending the summer in a colourful family in Philadelphia in 1967, was unexpected and the meaning of it has become clear to me only later on.

The summer of 1967 was the so-called ”The Long Hot Summer”, when there were race riots in over 200 regions in the USA. Living in a colourful neighbourhood in Philadelphia was a powerful experience.

How does the work experience gained during the studies affect your career later on?

The activities at KY had significant and educational effects on my personality and on how to cope in the work life.

Later on I was encouraged to go and work abroad because of the internship spent abroad.

The studies and the tool kit studying gives you are even more important especially when you are just starting your work career.

Your advice for the students who reflect on their studies?

It is crucial to acknowledge your own interests towards what you are willing to study.

Luckily, I was able to study in the School of Business, although I was not sure at all in the beginning of what I wanted.

By gaining more experience, my interests towards my own field and the work in finance have only strengthened.

Any thoughts about the business world?

World economics and the business world have been globalized and the development goes further every day.

The studies and the tool kit studying gives you are even more important especially when you are just starting your work career.

What do networks mean to you?

Knowing the people in your field is a substantive part of your knowledge.

From the networks, you will get an idea of how they see the markets, problems and possibilities with the experience they have already gained.

By noticing the ways people treat you, you will get a view of yourself from a different perspective.

Many students worry about finding their first job in the field. Do you have any advice for them?

It is best to concentrate on your skills, strengths and dreams, and focus them on your studies. The job opportunities will then eventually cross your path.

You act as an Alumni Ambassador at Aalto University School of Business. What does being an alumnus mean to you?

Following my School’s development has been extremely interesting since the beginning of my own studies.

After the experiences the Harvard Business School gave me, it has been interesting to follow also the developments in the alumni activities in Finland, and for the past 10 years, I have been acting as a mentor for the younger student generations.

Further information:

Read more about the School of Business alumni cooperation and about the other Alumni Ambassadors who, like Kari Janhunen, are involved in developing the School’s alumni activities:
www.aalto.fi/school-of-business/school-of-business-alumni-ambassadors.

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