Various career paths: Markus Puhakka develops a family-run horticultural business and enjoys gardening in the spring

Puhakka, who also considered the profession of a wilderness guide, studied marketing and international business management at the School of Business. Now he combines his business expertise with garden work in a Finnish family business specialising in horticulture.
Kuvassa Markus Puhakka seisoo puutarhamyymälässä, ja ympärillä näkyy viherkasveja.
Markus Puhakka enjoys combining his business expertise with physical labour. Photo: Aalto University / Roope Kiviranta

After graduation, Markus Puhakka, MSc (Econ & BusAdmin), worked on his dream job in marketing and business-to-business sales in a consulting company and in a business selling software. During the coronavirus pandemic, however, he started wanting more from his work than staring at the laptop screen and typing on the keyboard. One remote meeting after another no longer felt right for him.

‘As I mainly worked with the keyboard during the remote work period, genuine human connection was missing, and I felt as though I had lost one of my senses. I understood that the working method and environment in question did not meet my expectations, even though I used to feel a calling to work in a fine office in central Helsinki. However, I’m really glad that I’ve also had the opportunity to see that side of the world of work,’ Puhakka says.

Kuvassa näkyy vastavalmistunut Markus Puhakka Kauppakorkeakoulun nimikyltin edessä.
According to Markus Puhakka, the lessons he learned at the School of Business will be applied in the family business in their entirety. Photo: Markus Puhakka

When offered a chance to move to a horticultural company established by his wife’s grandfather, Markus Puhakka seized the opportunity so enthusiastically that he also completed a gardener’s degree. He now serves as the Head of Business Development in the family-owned company PuutarhaNikkarit. In the winter, he plans the company’s internal processes, development of staff well-being and the product range for the upcoming growing season. In the spring, he enjoys doing physical work in the garden.

For us, responsibility means many things and we invest a lot in ensuring the well-being of all our employees.

Markus Puhakka

‘The opportunity to include physical labour in my own work and to experience the growth in nature in the spring is very important to me. At the same time, I can use the things I have learned at the School of Business and in my earlier workplaces to develop the family business. It is a matter of the heart for me to develop our business, striving to make it more economically profitable and increasing the well-being of our work community.’

Responsibility as a key value

PuutarhaNikkarit has three garden shops in the Helsinki metropolitan area. In addition, the company does landscaping in challenging sites on a contractual basis. All activities are characterised by a strong commitment to responsibility.

‘For us, responsibility means many things. Our sector inherently promotes sustainable development, as we sell and grow plants, thus contributing to carbon sequestration and diversity. It is also important to us that our store operations do not cause additional harm to nature, and we invest a lot in the well-being of all our employees,’ says Markus Puhakka.

‘We also want to be responsible towards our customers and give the best possible care instructions with each plant we sell. This way, together with the customers, we can be amazed when the highbush blueberry produces twice as many berries.’

Kuvassa nuori Markus Puhakka katselee Kolin upeitaa maisemia.
Nature has been important to Markus Puhakka ever since he was a child. Photo: Markus Puhakka

Music and studies in marketing

When Markus Puhakka considered his future place of study after general upper secondary school, he was mostly attracted to studies at the School of Business. At some point, the nature-loving young man also considered the profession of a wilderness guide, but sales and marketing were closest to his heart.

‘I’d already been working in sales alongside school. Since I wanted to learn more about business, marketing and management, studies at the School of Business seemed like a natural choice,’ Puhakka says.

In hindsight, the choice of a study place seems successful, as the lessons learned at the School of Business are applied in the family business in their entirety.

‘Everything I do has a direct effect on the success and well-being of myself, my family, staff and the entire company. Therefore, I can wholeheartedly recommend studies at the School of Business. As my career path indicates, there are many different career options if your first job is not for you, after all.’

Kuvassa Markus Puhakka esiintyy lavalla Akystic-yhtyeen solistina.
As the singer of student band Akystic, Markus Puhakka had a chance to try out performing on stage and entertaining. Photo: Markus Puhakka

Puhakka also fondly remembers student life. The best memories have to do with the business students’ band called Akystic. Puhakka was the band’s singer and met like-minded people and made life-long friends in the band.

‘I’ve played percussion instruments and the piano ever since I was a kid, later followed by the guitar and singing. With Akystic, I had an opportunity to try out performing on stage and entertaining people, and to do something that I enjoyed and found fulfilling.’

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