How’s your career path been and what are the highlights in your career for yourself?
In my career, I have always been involved in the transition of various industries. During my Bachelor’s studies, I worked for a small brewery Nokian Panimo at the same time when the whole scene started to appear to the industry. After that, I moved on to Sitra (The Finnish Innovation Fund) and to the Finnish Clean Energy Association to promote renewable energy. I got really excited about renewable energy and I founded a startup called Joukon Voima, which at the forefront of crowdfunding introduced new ways to finance sustainable solutions. I was the CEO of Joukon Voima for six years, and this period covers the highlights of my career so far. It’s quite incredible how we managed to build trust right away so that our first bigger project raised over half a million euros from people who wanted to invest impactfully. In addition, the invitation to the Independence Day Reception organized by the President of Finland, in the middle of an exceptionally challenging and frustrating phase at my work, was quite overwhelming. It helped me to realize that despite the difficulties then we certainly had already achieved something.
You currently work as the Head of Stakeholder Relations at Verso Food. What does Verso Food do? How did you end up in your current position?
Verso Food makes plant-based food products from Finnish fava beans and is the market leader in plant-based proteins in Finland. A couple of years ago, after realizing that I wanted to move on from entrepreneurship to something else, it was quite challenging for me to think about the kind of work where I could have a meaningful and impactful output for my passion to promote a more sustainable world. When I discovered that the thing could be food, I managed to trick my current manager for a cup of coffee with me to ‘discuss this and that’ about the food revolution and consumer behavior related to it. After drinking the first cup of coffee, she said, ’It isn’t just a cup of coffee and a good chitchat you are after, aren’t you?’ Well, indeed I wasn’t.
What are your responsibilities in your job?
In a small company like ours, my job responsibilities are diverse, as they include stakeholder relations, corporate communications, and corporate responsibility. A Finnish company called Raisio just bought our company, so the scale of operations is growing, but hopefully my responsibilities will remain meaningfully diverse.
What advice would you give to yourself if you were a student now? Would you study e.g. something completely different?
All my interdisciplinary studies at Aalto University were exceptionally rewarding, so I could have set out to broaden my worldview even more open-mindedly. It would also have been interesting to delve even deeper into behavioral sciences in addition to the consumer behavior course offering at the School of Business.
What do you expect or wish for the future?
I hope I can manage to maintain my certain idealism with the passion and drive that I have throughout my professional career. During my second study year at the School of Business, I was having a beer with my sister’s spouse, and I was passionately explaining something idealistic to him. To that, he commented with a laughter, ‘I’m sure that five years of business studies will succeed in shedding off that naive idealism from you’. At my graduation ceremony, I sent him a text message saying, ‘It did not shed’, and it still hasn’t!
Get to know Jukka’s career path more closely on LinkedIn!