‘I was almost exactly 13 years old when I decided that I wanted to study at the School of Business (formerly Helsinki School of Economics),’ Salla Vainio recalls.
‘My father had graduated from the School of Business and, very early, I began to think that it was just the right option for me. Initially, it was really just a feeling because, when I was a teenager, I didn't have a very clear idea of what economics and business administration meant, yet.’ During upper secondary school, Vainio became more convinced that studying economics would provide a wide range of possibilities: it would not drive her into one, narrow career path or close any doors.
She graduated with a Master’s Degree in Economics in 1994, with a major in international marketing. At this year’s Homecoming Day for the alumni, she was chosen Alumna of the Year of the School of Business.
Salla Vainio became the CEO of the law firm Fondia in the spring of 2014. By then, her career path had led through business development and through sales and general management positions in telecommunications, IT, media and publishing. In almost all her jobs, she has been dealing with a significant change within the particular industry.
‘It has been great to see what kind of new opportunities new technologies and new product and service concepts can create in different industries,’ Vainio says.
After completing her studies, Salla Vainio has also been actively involved in the university community. She was the chairperson of the first Continuity Committee of Aalto University Student Union (AYY), which developed forms of cooperation for the new student union.
During the past year and a half, she has been a member of the Alumni Advisory Board of the School of Business. This group of about ten people considers and develops ways to deepen collaboration between the alumni and the Aalto University School of Business.
The School of Business gave me a lot, most importantly my best friends
Vainio feels that the School of Business gave her a lot, most importantly almost all of her best friends.
In addition to social relations, the School of Business also provided an excellent package for working: those broad-based studies that she originally wanted. In addition, she is happy that the School of Business made it possible to study and work abroad.
‘During my studies, I was very active at KY, and also at the School of Business, where I served as vice chair of the council and a member of the board of the School of Business.’
Vainio says the greatest cause of happiness, especially thinking back now, was the opportunity to represent the Helsinki School of Economics Student Association (KY) when the recruitment services of the School of Business were founded in 1991 and to head the recruitment services alongside her studies in 1992 and 1993.
‘In autumn 1992, we also organised the first ARENA Career Fair, which will already be celebrating its 25th birthday this year,’ she says happily. ‘I also had a chance to practice management in very demanding situations, which has later been useful in working life.’
As Alumni you are obliged to ‘give something back’
‘Riku Asikainen, the previous Alumnus of the Year, put it very well: to the alumni, the School of Business is "our school”,’ Vainio says.
‘An important part of our own brands in working life is that we have all graduated from this particular school. When the school has given us so much, we also feel obliged to give something back.’
According to Vainio, it is the alumni’s desire and in their interests that the School of Business continues to develop, also internationally.
‘Thanks to the development of Aalto University and the School of Business and their collaboration with the alumni, there are interesting opportunities for professional development and social interaction also for us alumni. Mentoring and the very inspiring Homecoming Day event are good examples,’ says Alumna of the Year 2016.
The Alumna of the Year award was granted at the evening reception of the Homecoming Day for School of Business alumni on 26 August 2016.
The Alumnus of the Year award of the School of Business has previously been granted to Matti Honkala (2008), Arto Hiltunen (2009), Mikko Kosonen (2010), Sirkka Hämäläinen (2011), Timo Löyttyniemi (2012) and Richard Asikainen (2014).