Alumnus Atte Heikkilä: Acting as a mentor was a great experience for me

School of Business alumnus Atte Heikkilä, who pursues an international career as a project manager in Sweden, participated in the Aalto mentoring program for the first time as a mentor last year. He recommends the program both to students and alumni: ‘Join the program with an open mind and challenge your own and the mentor's possible presumptions.’
Atte Heikkilä
Atte Heikkilä.

Who are you? What did you study at the School of Business and when did you graduate?

My name is Atte Heikkilä, and I graduated from Aalto University in the summer of 2016 with a Master of Science in Economics and Business administration. As my major I studied finance, and as my minor I was on exchange in Barcelona and studied project management courses there. ​​In my master's degree, my minor was accounting.

Why did you want to study finance?

I started to be interested in finance only after a while, because at the time when I was studying for the School of Business entrance exam, I thought that finance studies seemed to be too much about crunching numbers. However, the ‘Introduction to Finance’ course of the first year of my studies sparked my interest: finance turned out to be a great combination of logical reasoning, learning the laws of economics, and my own favorite area of interest, that is, the psychology of human decision-making (behavioral finance). I am still happy with my choice of major, although many other majors included interesting courses.

How’s your career path been like?

After the summer jobs during my studies, I started my career in management consulting in Helsinki after my graduation summer. After this post, I began my journey towards an international career by first doing a fixed-term cost structure efficiency project at UN headquarters in New York. I went on a backpacking trip for six months, and since then I have been working at Nordea in Sweden and Denmark. I currently work as a project manager for Nordic business development projects at Nordea.

How did studying at Aalto University School of Business prepare you for working life?

In my opinion, Aalto University and the School of Business have a good and modern approach to teaching the work skills needed in today's world. Teamwork skills and finding an effective way to work with different people, an international approach, and a constant readiness to learn new things and embrace change are things that I definitely brought along with me to working life. Aalto University students have excellent opportunities to study interdisciplinary also outside their own field, and I encourage all Aalto students, regardless of their field of study, to keep an open mind for the whole university’s course offerings.

You are currently working as a project manager at Nordea in Sweden. How did you end up in your current position and what kind of responsibilities do you have at your work?

Inspired by my finance studies, I ended up in the banking industry for summer jobs, but only through twists and turns did I find my own thing in project management. My current job involves a lot less excels and numbers than I expected as a finance student, but more ‘people work’: motivating my team members, listening to concerns, and finding a common target. I spend my working days often in conducting meetings, as well as discussing individually with my team members and other stakeholders.

My own career path has been a demonstration to myself that only by trying different jobs you can really find your own thing: for me, my current job is an excellent combination of carrying out projects with diverse, fun, and international colleagues.

The best thing about the mentoring program is the possibility to customize it to suit the student's own needs.

Atte Heikkilä, School of Business alumnus

What kind of tips would you give to students interested in an international career?

My number one tip is to remind that there is no one kind of ‘right’ career path for any Aalto or School of Business student. For example, as a finance student, you do not only have to strive to work in London's investment banks in pursuit of internationality, but you can also go to internships in Finnish permanent missions around the world, or volunteer in a completely foreign country. My best career decisions so far have often been made almost by accident!

I also warmly recommend using Aalto University's excellent and free career services – from CV clinics to job listings – to help in finding and applying for international jobs. You can also advance your internationality in Aalto's numerous international student associations and clubs; I give a strong recommendation for these!

Last year, you acted as a mentor in the Aalto University mentoring program. What kind of experience has mentoring been like? What kind of tips would you give to the actors, i.e., the students participating in the program?

Mentoring was a great experience for me, and hopefully for my actor pair as well. I will definitely continue as a mentor in future years, as long as I’m admitted to the program. I can warmly recommend participating in the program as an actor to all Aalto students. The best thing about the program is the possibility to customize it to suit your own needs – mentors and actors decide together on both discussion topics and meeting schedules.

I have two particular tips for actors, i.e., students:

1. Even before applying to the program, I encourage you to consider what kind of mentor would be the most helpful in discussing your specific interests. For example, you can consider whether the mentor would be from the same or a different field than you, whether the mentor would be at the beginning of his / her career or more experienced, and whether the mentor would be working in Finland or abroad.

2. My own actor and I discussed a wide range of working life topics in and around them: from looking for a job and preparing for case interviews to finding a good apartment, as well as the question of what kind of things are included in the meaningfulness of work – and of life in general. I recommend joining the program with an open mind and challenge your own and the mentor's possible presumptions.

Have a closer look on Atte’s career path on LinkedIn!

Student, would you be interested in participating in the Aalto University Mentoring Programme? You are eligible to apply as an actor if you are a doing a Master´s degree at Aalto University and you have enrolled as an attending student when the programme starts in November 2021. The application period for students is from 13 September to 3 October.

School of Business students sitting

School of Business alumni stories

Here you can find School of Business alumni stories. Our alumni share their professional journeys and give advice and tips regarding working life. The stories have been sorted based on the alumni's majors. The newest publications are placed first in the major groups.

School of Business
Business students sitting around a table, talking and studying together.

Finance, Master of Science (Economics and Business Administration)

Dive into finance: learn to understand financial markets, manage risk and navigate global issues to face the latest challenges in the field.

Study options
Mentoring helps you to find your path

Mentoring programme for students and alumni

In Aalto University Mentoring Programme, students design their career with the support of working life mentors.

Career Design Lab
For School of Business alumni
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