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Alumnus Jukka Kajan: Even good things have to be marketed, otherwise they won't fly

Our marketing alumnus Jukka Kajan founded Joukon Voima, a crowdfunding platform for sustainable projects, and now works with plant-based food and plant proteins at Verso Food. ‘In my career, I have always been involved in the transition of various industries.’
Jukka Kajan. Kuvaaja: Aino Huotari
Jukka Kajan, School of Business alumnus. Photo: Aino Huotari.

Who are you? What and when did you study at Aalto University School of Business?

I am Jukka Kajan, hello there! I started my studies at the School of Business in 2008 and my major was marketing. After a seven-year study journey, I graduated in 2015. On my School of Business study path the most significant thing was the amazing MediaBizLab minor program, which was the first interdisciplinary study module in Aalto University. A course assignment first turned into a research project and eventually led me to speak at two international marketing conferences in the middle of my studies.

Why did you want to study marketing?

I remember my friends questioning my choice of school because the business studies and the values ​​stereotypically associated with them didn’t quite match with the ideas of my hippie friend groups. However, I passionately explained to them how ‘Even good things have to be marketed, otherwise they won’t fly’. I will stick to my answer also now, after 15 years. And besides, you can find hippie gangs also in the School of Business.

How did studying at the School of Business prepare you for working life? What has been especially useful during your studies?

The biggest benefit for me has been how studying at the School of Business developed my thinking and the ability to assimilate things. Something happened to me during my third or fourth study year, when I suddenly found myself seeing the big picture holistically in a whole new way, after which the rest of the study courses were somehow surprisingly clear to me. This understanding of entities and seeing the big picture that I learned in the School of Business is the thing that has primarily been beneficial for me in my working life instead of the content knowledge of marketing.

I hope I can manage to maintain my certain idealism with the passion and drive that I have throughout my professional career.

Jukka Kajan, School of Business alumnus

How’s your career path been and what are the highlights in your career for yourself?

In my career, I have always been involved in the transition of various industries. During my Bachelor’s studies, I worked for a small brewery Nokian Panimo at the same time when the whole scene started to appear to the industry. After that, I moved on to Sitra (The Finnish Innovation Fund) and to the Finnish Clean Energy Association to promote renewable energy. I got really excited about renewable energy and I founded a startup called Joukon Voima, which at the forefront of crowdfunding introduced new ways to finance sustainable solutions. I was the CEO of Joukon Voima for six years, and this period covers the highlights of my career so far. It’s quite incredible how we managed to build trust right away so that our first bigger project raised over half a million euros from people who wanted to invest impactfully. In addition, the invitation to the Independence Day Reception organized by the President of Finland, in the middle of an exceptionally challenging and frustrating phase at my work, was quite overwhelming. It helped me to realize that despite the difficulties then we certainly had already achieved something.

You currently work as the Head of Stakeholder Relations at Verso Food. What does Verso Food do? How did you end up in your current position?

Verso Food makes plant-based food products from Finnish fava beans and is the market leader in plant-based proteins in Finland. A couple of years ago, after realizing that I wanted to move on from entrepreneurship to something else, it was quite challenging for me to think about the kind of work where I could have a meaningful and impactful output for my passion to promote a more sustainable world. When I discovered that the thing could be food, I managed to trick my current manager for a cup of coffee with me to ‘discuss this and that’ about the food revolution and consumer behavior related to it. After drinking the first cup of coffee, she said, ’It isn’t just a cup of coffee and a good chitchat you are after, aren’t you?’ Well, indeed I wasn’t.

What are your responsibilities in your job?

In a small company like ours, my job responsibilities are diverse, as they include stakeholder relations, corporate communications, and corporate responsibility. A Finnish company called Raisio just bought our company, so the scale of operations is growing, but hopefully my responsibilities will remain meaningfully diverse.

What advice would you give to yourself if you were a student now? Would you study e.g. something completely different?

All my interdisciplinary studies at Aalto University were exceptionally rewarding, so I could have set out to broaden my worldview even more open-mindedly. It would also have been interesting to delve even deeper into behavioral sciences in addition to the consumer behavior course offering at the School of Business.

What do you expect or wish for the future?

I hope I can manage to maintain my certain idealism with the passion and drive that I have throughout my professional career. During my second study year at the School of Business, I was having a beer with my sister’s spouse, and I was passionately explaining something idealistic to him. To that, he commented with a laughter, ‘I’m sure that five years of business studies will succeed in shedding off that naive idealism from you’. At my graduation ceremony, I sent him a text message saying, ‘It did not shed’, and it still hasn’t!
 

Get to know Jukka’s career path more closely on LinkedIn!

School of Business students sitting

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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.

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