Jani Ignatius and Kalle Ahola, Master's students at Aalto University School of Business, together with OP Corporate Bank, carried out an extensive, forward-looking review of the development of the global leasing market and new business models. The aim of the tailored business project was to map OP's ability to respond to current trends in the field and at the same time strengthen OP's previous research work. The market research carried out in the summer of 2021 was presented to the management of OP's business unit and to the experts responsible for leasing operations.
‘We at OP are constantly working to stay on the cutting edge of development, and we cannot just rely on our existing understanding of market developments. For this reason, we wanted to get a young and innovative view from university students about what trends are happening in the field of leasing financing and what kind of business models are expected in the field,’ says OP Corporate Bank's Business Lead Antti Niemelä.
‘In addition to conducting market research, students were able to come up with their own proposals for developing our leasing operations. The ideas received a positive reception from us, and next we will start exploring their commercial opportunities,’ Niemelä added.
The students were relatively free to choose how to implement the project and were able to steer it in the desired direction. During project meetings, OP representatives and project leaders from Aalto University had the opportunity to challenge the students' views and ask additional questions.
‘Overall, Jani and Kalle managed the business project very well. In the project review meetings, we were able to ensure that the project was moving in the desired direction. The cooperation and communication were smooth throughout the summer, even though the guys managed the project very independently,’ says Joni Kokkonen, Visiting Assistant Professor at the School of Business, who acted as the academic supervisor of the project.
The students learned a great deal about the world of leasing and working life skills
The students stated that the project was very rewarding and also prepared them for the transition to working life.
Jani Ignatius says that although during his studies he has become very familiar with financial markets, leasing financing itself is ultimately a truly multifaceted topic.
‘When we were chosen to work on the project, I believed that Kalle and I already had a strong background and understanding of the topic, but immediately after the first meeting with OP, we found that the topic is much broader than we had expected. This was a great thing in the end, and I feel that my professional skills have grown in a new way. OP was a great partner for the project and I believe that the good learning experience was mutual.’
Kalle Ahola emphasises the importance of these kind of projects as a counterbalance to more theoretical studies.
‘Although we are both coming to the end of our university studies, the project still provided us with an excellent opportunity to challenge ourselves and use the skills we learned at university to develop real-life business. I believe that practical projects along with more theory-focused courses is important for the holistic learning process. In addition, leading the project and taking responsibility for communication between different stakeholders significantly increased our leadership and interaction skills, which are extremely valuable both during my studies and career.’
‘Many thanks to OP and Aalto University for a great project. We would highly recommend customised business projects to other students as well.’
OP Corporate Bank Plc is OP Cooperative's most significant subsidiary. It serves large companies throughout Finland and companies of all sizes in the Helsinki Metropolitan Area (Helsinki, Espoo, Vantaa). OP Corporate Bank supports the internationalisation of its customers. It is responsible for the Baltic business in the group, i.e., it operates as a bank for large companies and conducts finance company business in Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. OP Corporate Bank also acts as OP Financial Group's central bank.