School of Business donor stories: Olli Karkkila

I remember studying with great warmth and have very fond memories of student life. I have been able to work with great people in Finland’s leading companies. For this, I feel deep gratitude to the School of Business.
Olli Karkkila
Olli Karkkila

Tell us about you

I was born in Helsinki in the war year of 1942 to a family where both parents were business graduates. As a child I lived in Töölö and Vaasa. After studying in the USA for a year and doing my military service, I started studying at the Helsinki School of Economics in 1963.

I graduated with a master's degree in economics in 1968, and worked after that in the Kone Group, and later in the Orion Group in various management positions, most recently as CEO of Chymos in Lappeenranta in 1987-1992. My last job was at Satakunta’s Lännen Tehtaat (now Apetit Oyj), for which I served as CEO and Chairman of the Board until I retired.

My career also includes an Authorized Public Accountant degree (1971); two years in the USA; and the Harvard Business School's Advanced Management Program in 1982-83. The President of Finland awarded me the title of Industrial Counselor in 2001. According to my wife, we have moved at least 16 times due to my work, of which our entire family of four survived admirably.

Your memories when studying at the School of Business

I remember studying with great warmth and have very fond memories of student life. I was elected host of the Student Union in 1963 and after that I also served on the board of KY. As a host my job was, above all, to organize community events and to communicate with the student unions of University of Helsinki and Helsinki University of Technology.

In 1964, I co-founded the Boston Promenade band with the support of Amer Group. Over time, the wind ensemble of a few players evolved into a still-performing big band orchestra, whose 50th anniversary celebrations I participated as an honorary quest. 

From student days has also survived the self-appointed KY Classical Board, whose host I used to be. We have met a couple of times a year, the spring Golf du Cognac event as a highlight, which is now on break due to the corona.

Big band
Olli Karkkila playing as a soloist with DDT Jazz Band at Lappeenranta's Pusupuisto (in 1989).

How have the business studies been useful in your career?

I have had the privilege to work with great people in Finland’s leading companies. For this, I feel deep gratitude to the School of Business.

What inspired you to donate to the School of Business?

I want to be one of the donors, because I think studying and the time spent on it are important.  Aalto University has every possibility to offer today’s students all they need in their career. The future of our magnificent 110-year-old School in its new form as part of Aalto University looks bright.

Your greetings to Kauppis alumni and students

I wish all alumni and current students strength and faith in this difficult pandemic situation.


Our warmest thanks to you Olli for supporting the School of Business and sharing your amazing story with us!

Read more about donating

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