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Growth and responsibility in business discussed at the Prodeko seminar

The Prodeko seminar on May 6, 2022, gathered together several hundred key actors in the industry, entrepreneurship, research, and education, as well as Industrial Engineering and Management students to discuss growth and responsibility in business. This annual event is organized by the Prodeko community of the Department of Industrial Engineering and Management.
Kaisa Hietala is the keynote speaker at Prodeko Seminar 2022.
In her speech, the board member of Exxon Mobil, Kaisa Hietala, discussed how business growth can be responsible.

In his opening remarks, Ossi Naukkarinen, Vice-Rector for Research at Aalto University, emphasized the alumni community’s important work for the benefit of Aalto University students and research projects. In addition, more than 200 business cases are studied each year in industrial engineering and management education alone. “The Prodeko alumni have made significant donations to Aalto University. Also, the establishment of the new Prodeko fund under the Aalto University Foundation demonstrates a culture of shared responsibility and the wisdom of supporting future generations”, said Naukkarinen.

Sustainability as a driver of business change

In her speech, the board member of Exxon Mobil, Kaisa Hietala, discussed how business growth can be responsible. According to Hietala, the search for business opportunities related to sustainable development requires new management methods and a new way of thinking, especially regarding the decision-making horizon. For example, the transition of Neste from fossil fuels to renewable products was very profitable in the long run. However, the change required significant risk-taking and investment without guaranteed success.

Hietala emphasized that recent years have seen an encouraging shift in attitudes toward sustainable development in several sectors that have previously used natural resources beyond their capacity (e.g., energy, packaging, agriculture). However, fundamental business change requires a commitment from companies’ boards to see sustainability as a driver of business change. Investors can also bring about change, for example, by influencing the composition of corporate boards.

Promoting growth during the corona pandemic and the war in Ukraine

Sammeli Sammalkorpi, CEO of Sievo Oy, shared his personal experiences of how the software company’s operations changed with the corona pandemic. He showed how a company could act in a rapidly evolving crisis to help others and enable new growth. The particularly compelling and personal story of the formation of the Procure4Peace concept captivated listeners to consider what all of us can do for the world and each other if we harness entrepreneurial thinking and the energy lurking within us.

The Procure4Peace concept was formed within a few days of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The idea is to provide the global procurement community with the opportunity to procure and supply the assistance needed by the victims of the war in Ukraine and arrange logistics for the supplies needed by local actors with the help of procurement experts from different countries. The power of social media was utilized in the concept development to identify experts and initiate collaboration. The initiative will help the global sourcing community navigate the sourcing and supply chain challenges in a war economy. At the same time, it came about to develop a network and a new kind of operating model that can serve as a platform for new business in other circumstances.

Regulation found important in enhancing sustainable business

In the fireside chat Kaj Hagros (Redstone Nordics), Johanna Pynnä (Kemira), Juha Leppänen (Demos Helsinki), and Panu Vuorela (Vaaka Partners) discussed how responsibility is realized in their work and business life. Among other things, the discussion focused on regulation in creating a sustainable business. Regulative action was seen mainly as an opportunity to create an environment conducive to sustainable development.

Assistant Professor of strategic management Jukka Luoma and industrial engineering and management student Veera Fristadius acted as the moderators in the event.

Recording of Sammeli Sammalkorpi's keynote is available below. 

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