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Alumni Ambassador's story: Katariina Helaniemi

“You should definitely take the kind of courses that really interest you, since that is what motivates you the most”, says the School of Business alumna Katariina Helaniemi.
Kauppakorkeakoulun Alumni Ambassador Katariina Helaniemi

 

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

I started my studies in 2009 and graduated with the Master’s degree in the summer 2016. During my studies, I majored in marketing, completed an international CEMS Master’s in International Management degree, and spent two exchange periods in Canada and in Sweden.

In which positions have you worked after graduation?

During the final stage of my studies and right after graduation, I worked for a few years as the Chief Program Curator at Slush. As the Chief Program Curator, I took care of the speakers, contents, and the themes to be discussed at the event.

After Slush I worked as a Principal Consultant at Demos Effect, focusing on the future of digital society. Last year, inspired by the startup scene and its societal impact, I wrote a book about Finnish growth entrepreneurship and startup mentality together with two of my Slush colleagues.

Now I work in San Francisco at a venture fund called Fifty Years, as a Director of Operations. The company invests in startups, which solve the world’s biggest problems using the newest technology.

In what ways have the studies been useful for your career?

For me, the studies at the School of Business have given a broad comprehension of business thinking.

I had the most important insights related to studying when I understood that you should take the kind of courses that really interest you, even though you do not know anything about the subject yet. That is when you learn the most, and it will motivate you even more.

Aalto University offers plenty of cool options for multidisciplinary studies, and instead of following strictly one’s own study program in the major subject, I wish the students were more daring in seeking for the courses which are the most interesting to them.

Share something memorable from the time when you were studying.

The greatest memories are absolutely related to people and doing things together, and also acting in the student association KY.

Many of my best friends are people with whom we have planned the KY’s very first Vappu parade, woken up early to host Sillis, and done lots of other things in various events!

The importance of learning new things and innovative problem solving is constantly growing in organizations, as well as the demand for cross-disciplinary understanding and skills.

How do different hobbies and activities affect one’s career path?

During the studies, it is possible to try different jobs and get a glimpse into inspiring organizations. In addition, acting in student organizations gives you a great chance to complete the most extraordinary initiatives, create new contacts and gain new skills.

As a student, I worked for example at Rovio and at the Consulate General of Finland in New York, where I experienced what the work is like at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

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

You should think what really interests you the most and focus on that. It is useful to be open about your wishes, talk to as many contacts as possible, be open-minded for new opportunities and trust yourself. In many workplaces, you can gain the needed skills while at work – you only need to have the right attitude and willingness to learn.

In what ways should the current students take the changes in the business world into consideration in their studies?

The importance of learning new things and innovative problem solving is constantly growing in organizations, as well as the demand for cross-disciplinary understanding and skills.

People who understand technologies and business, and who can think innovatively outside the box are valuable in many working environments. Thus, you should be developing these skills already during your studies by doing different projects and completing various courses.

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

It means being a bridge between business life and students. I wish that as an alumna I could bring references from the business life back to the School and to the students, and through that, be able to develop further the Aalto University School of Business.

I want to tell the students the things I would have liked to hear as a student – that the School of Business degree gives you the possibility to go everywhere, as long as you are ambitious and daring enough to go there and willing to learn things from the beginning!

From the School of Business, you can graduate as an author or an investment banker, you can head for the music or marketing business, or become an officer, a researcher or a PR guru. There are countless opportunities and none of them is the “right” one.

Further information:

Currently Helaniemi is working at Illusion Group with Strategic Impact Research. (2020)

Get to know Katariina Helaniemi’s career path more closely on LinkedIn!

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

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