Alumni Ambassador's story: Pirjo Väliaho
When and what did you study at Aalto University School of Business?
I completed my degree during the years 1975–1978, marketing as my major.
What jobs have you held since graduation?
For over 20 years, I have acted as a CEO in several American companies in the international markets. Moreover, I have worked globally in different marketing and management positions.
During my work career, I have worked altogether in seven different countries in very multicultural environments.
At the moment I serve on the board of directors in a couple of companies.
In what ways have the studies been useful for your career?
Without the degree from the School of Business, it would not have been possible for me to advance my career internationally. Especially in the beginning of my career, I felt that my colleagues appreciated my degree. So did the clients, with whom I worked. The degree from the School of Business raised my self-confidence, for I was pretty young when I graduated.
How do different work experiences and other activities affect one’s career path?
Very significantly, at least in my case! I worked extremely hard to get a summer internship at an advertising agency, which was my dream and one of the hottest industries among the students at the time.
First, I started at the financial unit, and afterwards, I got a position at a unit where they did advertising for bigger clients. The job at the advertising agency was my first permanent job and my first client was Valiojäätelö, a Finnish ice cream brand owned nowadays by Nestlé.
The job was a dream come true for me as a fresh graduate – and a great kick-start for my career!
When working at international companies, I saw how valuable the alumni network is and how much I can gain from it.
Your advice for the students who reflect on their studies?
Be honest to yourself and think about the line of business that really interests you. What is the field in which you could get a pleasant job and a possibility to develop yourself?
Never limit your own opportunities! Don’t be afraid, be brave and dare to try! The biggest challenge is to conquer oneself.
How should current students reflect their studies to the changes in the world?
The world is continuously changing, faster and faster every day. It is important to be realistic and think how you are able to reach for your dreams, and simultaneously, be successful in this rapidly changing world.
In addition, it is important to be flexible, for it is very likely that in order to develop your career, you have to develop yourself, too.
Your attitude matters the most! Be open-minded and curious to seek for opportunities, in order to make your dreams come true.
What do networks mean to you?
They are vital! With the help of your networks, many problems will be solved much easier. Some interesting opportunities may also cross your path through the networks.
You should invest time and effort in creating and maintaining your networks.
You act as Alumni Ambassador at the School of Business. What does being an alumna mean to you?
I familiarized myself with alumni communities at international companies, where the alumni network is strong. There I saw how valuable the alumni network is and how much I can gain from it.
I’m proud to be the School’s Alumni Ambassador. I want to take the support I have had from the School and pay it forward wherever I can.
Read more about the School of Business alumni cooperation and about the other Alumni Ambassadors who, like Pirjo Väliaho, are involved in developing the School’s alumni activities: www.aalto.fi/school-of-business/school-of-business-alumni-ambassadors.