Alumni lunch helps in planning career path

At regularly organised lunches, students of the School of Electrical Engineering can get useful tips from those with work experience in the field.
Alumnilunch School of Electrical Engineering

At the alumni lunch on Tuesday, 14 April, Juha Pennanen spoke about the different phases of his colourful career.  Pennanen has amassed wide-ranging work experience from entrepreneurship and from his international career. He has served in many sales, marketing and management tasks, for instance at Nokia Siemens Networks and Valmet. In addition he has worked in twelve countries, including Sweden, Canada, India, Italy, and Germany.

Students were interested in how he became interested in entrepreneurship. Pennanen said that his path to entrepreneurship emerged from his own need. As examples he mentioned that in the early 1970s he yearned to have an HP5 calculator, which was the best in the world at that time. For this reason the price was sky-high, and it would have been expensive to buy. Consequently he became the world's first retailer of the devices, which allowed him to keep one of them for himself. 

Personal input and inspiration are most important

The role of a person's own active input is important in applying for work. Pennanen said that he wanted to change fields completely after spending 15 years in the forest industry, working for companies including what was then the Valmet Corporation. He called the Nokia Cellular Networks switchboard and asked how he might get a job there.

'This required 20 phone calls, but it was worth it. I started work on a Monday, and  I was on my way to India to set up a base station already on Wednesday.'

The students also wanted to know what Pennanen learned at school. After considering the question briefly, he noted that the best thing that he learned was not related to the subject of study; learning many things about people was more important.

‘My years as a student also left me with good networks’, Pennanen says.

His diverse and colourful work career continues.  At the moment Pennanen's activities include working with two start-ups: One of them is a software company and the other, Rivender, is a startup whose goal is to bring fully automated shops onto the market. This would especially benefit remote areas, allowing one person to run ten stores with the help of technology.

Those assembled agreed that the need for machinery and technology would certainly not decrease in the future.

Alumni work experience is always enlightening

A total of 10 alumni lunches have been organised at the School of Electrical engineering, which have received positive feedback from students.

Experiences and tips concerning work are of interest to those considering their own careers.

 'Something new can always be learned from alumni, so it is a good idea to check this card as well', says Seppo Saastamoinen, who is responsible for alumni and corporate relations. 'It is best not to focus too much at one's own study module when picking who to sit next to at the lunch, as all alumni guests have something to contribute, regardless of what field they are in.'

Further information:

Seppo Saastamoinen, Aalto University, School of Electrical Engineering [email protected]
tel. +358 503653706

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