My Kauppis Memory: Quality projects have been central to development at the School of Business

‘Triple crown means quality.’
Former Administrative Director Esa Ahonen, School of Business

I worked at the Helsinki School of Economics and at Aalto University in various positions from 1975 to 1979 and from 1986 to 2016 for a total of 33 years. My longest assignment was that of an administrative director, and after that, I as a member of the A8 team* that built Aalto University, and then I also worked at economic tasks for the group. I also did plenty of work in the development of the university's entrepreneurial activities.

I have plenty of inspiring memories connected with quality projects of the Helsinki School of Economics. In 1997 Rector Eero Kasanen took part in a meeting of the European Foundation of Management Studies (EFMD) where the decision was made to launch the new European Quality Improvement System (EQUIS), possibly as a counterweight to the American AACSB accreditation. On his return from the EFMD meeting Eero said that he had announced that we would be part of the evaluation immediately the following year. I remember well the deep sighs among administrative and service personnel in a situation in which many other development projects were launched by the enthusiastic new rector.

HSE already had the AMBA (Association of MBAs) accreditation of its MBA programme, so there already was a basis for getting the stamp of quality. However, 1997 was an extremely busy year. It was quite a big task to convince even the most reluctant professors that this was not just a question of amassing quality labels, but rather a tool to help develop quality. I had a big role in compiling the first EQUIS self-evaluation because we did not have anyone who was separately responsible for quality issues. We got the evaluation immediately after the first universities did in 1998 and we were very proud of it. In the same year we also underwent a separate and equally challenging evaluation which led to us becoming a member of CEMS, the Global Alliance in Management Education. In that work we were greatly helped by the results of the EQUIS project.

Later, under Vice Rector Olli Ahtola, HSE got AACSB accreditation in 2007, making it the first school of business in the Nordic Region to do so. I will always remember the faces and envious comments of colleagues of the Copenhagen Business School when they heard the news. Few schools of business in the world had a “triple crown” - all three coveted quality labels.

I believe that these recognitions, which were based on the high quality created over several years, has been important for the reputation of the School of Business as an international business school of extremely high quality. With Aalto University, internationalisation has advanced to a completely new level.

At the beginning in 1998 CEMS was known as the “Community of European Management Schools and International Companies”. Today CEMS stands for “The Global Alliance of Management Education”.

The American AACSB is also a global actor today. Previously AACSB stood for “American Assembly of Collegiate Schools of Business”. Today its name is “Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business”.

*Esa Ahonen, Mauri Airila, Jari Jokinen, Outi Krause, Markku Markkula, Pekka Saarela, Timo Saarinen, and Hannu Seristö formed the A8 Team.

Esa Ahonen
Former Administrative Director and much more...


Ps. Kauppis (in the headline) is the Finnish nickname for the School of Business.

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