Alumni Ambassador's story: Katja Kääriä
When and what did you study at Aalto University School of Business?
I completed Aalto University Executive Education MBA degree alongside my work in 2004–2005.
What jobs have you held since graduation?
Starting the MBA studies, I was already tightly in the working life, leading generic drug development at Orion. After graduation, I started to set up Orion’s India operations, after which I moved to Orion Diagnostica, where I was responsible of marketing, export sales and business intelligence.
From Orion, my path took me to Vivago, where I acted as CEO of the health technology company. At the moment, I am the director in solution sales at Med Group. Currently I am on a study leave, fulfilling my dream: becoming a doctor.
In what ways have the studies been useful for your career?
I have studied throughout my working life. My career path set off from studies in chemistry and a career as a researcher, followed by studies in business and leadership, and now extending towards a clinical career in health care.
It is important to look at things from different perspectives and sometimes take the sidetrack, as interdisciplinary knowledge and teamwork are needed in the future – that the artificial intelligence cannot govern, at least in a while. I am interested in new things, since they give me energy and development ideas for my work. I see myself lucky, having taken part in starting and developing so many innovations.
Life is about learning, so enjoy the path! When you do things with passion, results will follow, because you are actively searching information and learning every day. Surely, the basics must be in order, but it is also good to acknowledge that no perfect performance exist. Trying to seek for it might take long time and not be worth it. Important is to understand what is good enough.
Share something memorable from the time of when you were studying.
The memories relate not so much to the subjects, but to the people. I look back with affection to our group in the MBA studies, the evenings spent together after work and joy of accomplishing together. It shows the importance of the shared experience, learning, sharing and succeeding together.
When I look back to the beginning of my career, I could not have imagined how much cooperation between people is included in different tasks. -- Be active, create connections and learn to be a team player, and you will do just fine.
How do different hobbies and activities affect one’s career path?
Hobbies balance the studies and work. I am passionate about volleyball: it has always been a good reason to wrap up things at work and go to play or coach. Through my hobby, I have received good advice and found many connections to my work.
Work experience helps you to understand where all the learned information is used, also giving perspective on things. It can also raise your interest on new things and motivate you to acquire more knowledge.
Your advice for the students who reflect on their studies and your advice for their career?
Your graduate degree does not matter as much as you would think. More important is your true interest in your work or studies. Be curious for life and keep your door open for new possibilities.
In the future, we will need even the most surprising study combinations, so use the opportunity to combine different things in your degree. I have had the privilege of doing amazing things with the combination of natural scientific and economic degrees. Do you have some other passion you could combine with your business studies?
When I look back to the beginning of my career, I could not have imagined how much cooperation between people is included in different tasks. It is good to know some things really well, but more important is to be part of a team and be able to use your own knowledge for the benefit of the team.
Today we are doing projects together, not personal profits. Be active, create connections and learn to be a team player, and you will do just fine.
Political decisions affect many things and it is important to understand the impact of different decisions also on the private sector. Follow the daily decision-making and think about what changes they might bring to your field.
Your thoughts on business world or current issues? What do you currently do at your work place?
Ongoing change is present in the business world, and the biggest topic at the moment is the social welfare and healthcare reform. We are preparing ourselves to serve all Finns in different sectors of the health care industry.
You act as Alumni Ambassador at the School of Business. What does being an alumnus mean to you?
I am proud of my School and that I have been chosen in the Ambassador’s role to tell my own Aalto story.
Is there something else you would like to say?
Success is a journey, not a destination. Keep your mind open and enjoy the journey – you might find yourself in unexpected places.
Currently, Kääriä is a CEO at Abena Finland. (2020)
Get to know Katja Kääriä’s career path more closely on LinkedIn!
Read more about the School of Business alumni cooperation and about the other Alumni Ambassadors who, like Katja Kääriä, are involved in developing the School’s alumni activities: www.aalto.fi/school-of-business/school-of-business-alumni-ambassadors.