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Alumni Ambassador's story: Mikko Kosonen

President of Sitra and School of Business alumnus Mikko Kosonen challenges students to plan their studies well. ”Tackling different challenges demands cooperation between the public and private sector, and it is no more enough to know only your own field well”, advises Kosonen.
School of Business Alumni Ambassador Mikko Kosonen

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

I completed the master’s degree during the years 1978–1982, after which I completed the licentiate’s and doctoral degrees during the years 1990–1991.

My majors were international business and marketing, and my minor was economics.

In which positions have you worked after graduation?

I worked at Nokia in the years 1984–2007. During the last years there, I acted as the Group Manager responsible for strategy and business infrastructure.

Since 2008, I have acted as the President of Sitra. Sitra is an independent public foundation and a societal change agent, and my task is to develop Finland as a pioneer of sustainable well-being, through different projects.

In what ways have the studies been useful for your career? What is the significance of the major subject and grades?

Marketing as a major subject has taught me to think in a customer-oriented way, and international business obviously taught international thinking. Both of the majors have had great significance in all work positions after my graduation.

The grades show you the level of your expertise and they give you confidence, which is very important.

You should get to know different people already during your studies, also outside the university, for knowing people widely from different sectors benefits you in the future.

Share something memorable from the time when you were studying.

A well-deserved beer and a burger after a difficult exam always tasted good!

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

I have always been very active in competitive and recreational sports, which has enhanced my ability to focus my energy to the challenges I face.

Sports, like any other demanding activity, develop your self-discipline and time management.

Your thoughts on business world or current issues?

In general, I think it is great that corporate social responsibility has grown significantly when comparing to the time when I was studying.

The best companies see business opportunities in the climate change mitigation and preventing different social problems.

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

Tackling the social and ecological challenges in the world demands more and more cooperation between the public and private sector.

It is no more enough to know only the business world, but the business leaders must be able to understand better the way the whole society works in order to fit their business into the bigger picture.

Many students, especially the ones who have only begun studying, are worried about how to find the first job in their field. Do you have any advice for them?

You should make your way to the networks of potential employers, already during your bachelor’s degree, but at the latest when you start writing your master’s thesis.

What do networks mean to you?

It is useful to know people widely from different sectors in the society.

Therefore, already during your studies, you should get to know different people, also outside the university.

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

The School of Business is my alma mater, which has given me excellent education and many valuable connections.

Further information:

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

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