Lassi Tervonen, a PhD student in economics, has received a 35,000 euro grant from venture capitalist Björn Savén. Tervonen will spend the academic year of 2019-2020 as a visiting researcher at Boston University (USA) which is one world’s leading universities in the field of economics research.
Tervonen says, ‘A year at Boston University is a great opportunity to come up with new research ideas and expand my network. The university offers a lot of very high-quality courses, and the seminars are also wonderful. It will be further expanded by the opportunity to attend nearby Harvard University and MIT seminars’.
A big step in gaining international expertise
Björn Savén, a Swedish venture capitalist based in London, founded the Björn Savén Scholarship in 2001, intending to enable graduate students to continue their studies at the top universities in the United States. It was originally funded by Savén’s private equity firm, IK Investment Partners, but he later decided to make it a private grant.
‘When IK Investment Partners expanded to Finland in the 1990s, we wanted to hire Finnish experts, who in addition to having a degree from Finland, would gain international experience and studies from top foreign universities. However, at that time, we found it difficult to find the right talent,’ says Savén.
Björn Savén, who graduated from Stockholm School of Economics and completed his studies at Harvard Business School in the 1970s, encourages the internationalisation of Finnish students.
‘The situation in the ’90s was quite different especially in Sweden and Norway where they were studying abroad more often, and I wanted to play a prominent role in pushing Finland towards internationalisation. This would help provide talented Finnish graduate students with the opportunity to expand their knowledge by studying at a top American university,’ he says.
Networking and new perspectives
‘Studying abroad helps to create important international networks for business, but it also shapes thinking and opens up new perspectives. I’d say that it’s a good idea to get a degree from a good Finnish university first and then go to the United States to do postgraduate studies. When returning to Finland, international experience and ideas can then be shared,’ Savén adds.
‘Staying in the United States changes people in a positive way and learning the give-back culture is one of those valuable changes.’
A career in a research institute or the private sector is in full sight
Lassi Tervonen plans to return to Finland after his studies to complete his doctoral theses in economics, and he is interested in a career at a research institute, while also being open to the private sector.
‘Big multinationals like Google and Amazon are hiring more and more economists with a PhD degree because they need experts to analyse the ever-increasing amount of data. Doctoral studies in economics are beneficial as they not only benefit a career in the academic world but also elsewhere,’ Tervonen says.
For the 17th time this year, the Björn Savén Scholarship has been administered by SAM: the League of Finnish American Associations. SAM aims to become Finland's leading resource centre for students, fellows and summer jobs in the United States.
For more information:
Doctoral student Lassi Tervonen, Department of Economics
Executive Director Lena Grenat, Association of Finnish-American Associations SAM