Professor Hannu Seristö teaches the Global Marketing Management master’s level course, which provides a theoretically grounded overview of developing and implementing global marketing strategies. Globalisation and the consequent changes in firms’ operating environment and the need to adjust firms’ marketing due to these changes are assessed. Dr. Olga Lavrusheva was the second instructor to the course.
‘The course covers key concepts and principles of marketing – emphasising the opportunities and challenges brought about by the global dimension – including pricing, distribution, promotion, branding, and digitalisation of marketing,’ Seristö tells.
A business project is a part of the course, and this spring, UPM, Marimekko, and Verso Food offered the projects. Here a team will share its experiences. Students Anu Rantama, Aino Saarelainen, Janika Tikkakoski and Stefan Kovacevic formed a team which worked on a project for UPM creating a B2B marketing strategy for UPM Biochemicals.
UPM has been working with Aalto repeatedly. ‘For me, however, this has been the first time, even though I have been engaging with Universities outside of Finland before. This was really a perfect start for a new relationship,’ says Martin Ledwon, Vice President, Stakeholder Relations, UPM Communication Papers and Biomolecular Businesses.
UPM is beginning operations in the chemical industry with their new biorefinery under construction in Germany. Biochemicals is a new business for UPM, and the aim of the team was to help the company enter this new market.
‘As the brief for the project was rather broad, the first thing our group did was to narrow the scope. Based on our analysis of the products and the field, we decided to focus on bio based monoethylene glycol and its applications in the textile industry, especially sportswear. We analysed the market and provided UPM with a detailed report including recommendations based on our analysis,’ student Anu Rantama tells.
What a dedication of the student teams and the quality of their work
According to Martin Ledwon, the result was excellent.
‘All groups really went to the bottom of the task and showed a very mature approach to applying theory to practical challenges. As the scope was including a promotion element, the direct feedback from an informed group of marketeers on how we are perceived in the market and what to practically do to advance this perception was extremely valuable. We can certainly apply some of the insights and recommendation in our practical follow up.’
Anu Rantama tells that she thinks the best part of the project was jumping into an industry that was almost completely new to all of her group members.
‘The assigned project was rather complex and challenging. It was insightful to dive into the field of biochemicals and apply everything we have learned so far in a different environment. One of the key things we found was that complex topics and new innovations, such as this UPM Biochemicals case, should be brought to a practical level to determine the approach and find out what we should focus on.’
Smooth and useful collaboration
Anu Rantama tells that the collaboration with the UPM representatives was very smooth. ‘Even though the biochemicals industry was new to all of us, it was surprising to notice that we knew quite much of the topic already when we started to combine our knowledge together. The bits and pieces combined together provided us a good base to start our project from.’
Also, Martin Ledwon tells that the collaboration was very easy. ‘The objective was clear to everyone involved. The interaction was facilitated very professionally by Aalto and always with a view to our needs and time while completely focused on enabling the students to excel in their work. What was both most encouraging and rewarding was the dedication of the student teams and the quality of their work. Also, the guiding hand of the professor and academic staff was clearly visible here.’
‘And finally, I like this generation of students very much for their professionalism, sincerity and willingness to interact. My only recommendation is to keep this up when entering the professional world. Many companies are in the process of changing their way they are marketing their brand and products and their overall interaction with their customers and stakeholders. The generation now graduating does bring a unique value to this challenge: their high sense of purpose, their international perspective and their intuitive approach to dealing with a digital-first approach to information sharing and engagement. Their contribution to how businesses market themselves and extend their platforms can go beyond practical expertise as they will have an impact on evolving the culture of their future employers. And the very final word from me: This experience was valuable for my role in UPM, but I also learned a lot personally. Count me in on any future project that would make sense to engage on,’ says Martin Ledwon.
Hanna Maula, Vice President, Communications & Brand, UPM, says that this kind of cooperation is very useful for both sides.
‘It is good that companies receive new ideas and perspectives from students while at the same time students gain valuable experience and contact with the business world. In this case, students were offered a demanding and relevant real-life task that could be approached from many perspectives. They carried out the task excellently and certainly learned some new things! We at UPM, meanwhile, received excellent ideas that bring us tangible benefits.’
‘Students are the professionals of the future, so it is in the interests of companies and society as a whole that they are offered in their studies project tasks that relate to the right challenges as well as work placements and summer jobs that offer opportunities to learn about companies and prepare themselves for working life. This is why UPM has chosen this year to hire hundreds of summer workers just in Finland alone, and we are keen to work closely with universities in the future,’ says Hanna Maula.