Our graduates with focus on International Business work in various fields and sectors.
International Business is one of four specialization areas in the Management and International Business Master's Program. Below you can read how the alumni with focus in International Business describe their study experience and career.
In any international position it is crucial to learn to put oneself into other people’s shoes, to respect and to understand their situation and perspective.
Pekka Rantala, CEO, Rovio
Pekka Rantala, CEO, Rovio
Pekka Rantala, CEO at Rovio and an alumni of the School of Business, Unit of International Business (earlier: International Marketing) was happy to accept an invitation to his home university to give a final lecture in the course People Management in Multinational Organizations.
Rantala perceives the working career as a journey. His truly international journey began as a student of the Business School in Helsinki, where he was inspired by the lectures and topics of International Business. Beside the studies he worked as the Secretary General in the Student Union. This is where he learned how to set a target and to work with different people: “Whatever you do and where ever you go, it’s always a people business”, Rantala ensures.
Even though Rantala stated never having had a very clear idea of what he wants to do in his life, he has been following three ambitions throughout his career. Firstly he always knew he wanted to work internationally. Secondly he’s intrigued by things that are challenging and thus give him the opportunity to learn. And thirdly, he enjoys working in teams – preferably as a team leader, who strives the group to achieve their goals together.
Once finished with his degree Rantala started as an Export Manager in Nokia, being responsible for selling mobile phones in Africa. Being the only representative of Nokia in many countries he was introduced with the words: “Mr. Rantala is your local office”. Thereafter he worked in many challenging positions around the globe, for Nokia, Fazer and Hartwall. Pekka Rantala started as the CEO of Rovio in the beginning of 2015.
The new CEO of Rovio stresses that in any international position it is crucial to learn to put oneself into other people’s shoes: to respect and to try to understand their situation and perspective. To learn to listen, to follow your ambition, and to stay humble were just a few of Rantala’s tips for the students of International Business, the international leaders of tomorrow.
Norbert Juhász, Delivery Process Specialist, KONE Oyj
I have been working in KONE since May 2013. I started as an International Trainee at the Major Projects unit in Hyvinkää. I stayed there for over a year when in July 2014 I moved to a new permanent role in the Global Development department in Espoo as Delivery Process Specialist, Metrics and Analytics. This has been a very good match since I like working with numbers and business performance management, and I enjoy the international corporate culture of the company. As far as my career plans are concerned, I am planning for long-term with KONE.
The traineeship at Major Projects was part of my CEMS MIM degree that I did in parallel with the Aalto MSc in International Business. I graduated from both programmes in the autumn of 2013.
At the time of my Master’s programme selection, I was finishing my Bachelor’s studies from the Corvinus University of Budapest. In my last year there, I did an 8-month-long internship in the United Kingdom. During this time I was thinking about where to do my Master’s degree. I did not want to stay in England, nor did I want to go back to Hungary. However, I was committed to choose a renowned academic institution in order to diversify and increase the value of my higher education. The Nordics, and especially Finland, was the primary region to consider because of its excellent reputation in the world, coupled with reasonable investment needs in order to obtain the Master’s degree.
Finland and Aalto University have taught me a lot. The multilingualism in Finland, diversity of nationalities, tolerance and understanding, nature of cooperation and communication have all been amazing qualities to experience. They have extensively broadened my worldview during the years. The combination of practical experience and critical approach to theoretical learning has opened up new ways of looking at the world of academia and business.
Aalto University and the CEMS community were both very good at maintaining close relationship with the business world and providing platform for students to interact with their partner firms. It was very useful to get to know companies in Finland, what they did and who they were looking for. KONE was a company I liked from the very beginning and saw it as an attractive place to work. In the end, it turned out that this networking support coupled with the Aalto CEMS business project experience were extremely helpful when applying for the KONE traineeship position.
Aalto Business School experience sum-up: Mind-broadening and enjoyable years!
Today, working as an Export Manager at Sinebrychoff, I am able to fulfill one of the dreams I had when first walking through the university doors.
Marco Villarreal, Export Manager, Sinebrychoff
Marco Villarreal, Export Manager, Sinebrychoff
From Helsinki to Santiago de Chile, from Sao Paolo to Tallinn, these are the places where my work takes me every month. I am a 2009 graduate from the Helsinki School of Economics with a Master’s Degree in International Business. Today, working as an Export Manager at Sinebrychoff, I am able to fulfill one of the dreams I had when first walking through the doors at Runeberginkatu 22. With exports to around 35 countries including 8 Latin American countries, the Baltics, travel retail, Norway, Spain and the UK, I am currently working in one of the most exciting and international FMCG companies in Finland.
Being raised in a bilingual family and having gone through elementary and high school at the English School in Helsinki, I have always lived and breathed a truly international environment. After a year at the Helsinki University of Technology, I realized that my calling was not in technology but business, especially international business. It was obvious to me that the only option would be to study at the best business school in Finland.
I am very glad of the time spent at the International Business Master’s Program. There were two major things that I feel I got from the program:
- A theoretical framework
- Ways of working
The biggest epiphanies of my professional life have come when theory and reality combine in how our business operates day in, day out. Theories and case work as such do not make you a professional in any field, but they form the foundation of your professional self. The more building blocks you have acquired during your studies, the better your possibilities of handling demanding tasks and situations in your work. In this respect I am particularly thankful to the International Business program, which I felt has given me the best possible package I could have hoped for on Day 1 at the Export Department of Sinebrychoff. My everyday work requires me to push hard in constantly striving to internationalize our brands, and the principles learned in the study halls of the faculty remain valid – the building blocks of a successful sales strategy.
While academia differs so greatly from the corporate world, it has given me incredible resources in terms of what I like to call ‘ways of working’. Many of the projects that we have at Sinebrychoff are solved as team work that closely resembles the working on the cases at the International Business Master’s Program. It might seem trivial at first, but the ability to work together on difficult cases and the necessity to rely on others to make things move are skills that one learns to appreciate when everything do not work smoothly in teams. Ways of working – and ways of making project work – is one of the key take-home lessons from the International Business program. Essentially, international business has a lot of driving the deal home, but even more problem-solving. From logistics to lagging sales, the analytical approach, which is the backbone of the case study, consistently yields the best results – particularly when spiced with just enough imagination and innovative approaches.
My current work is exciting and gives me the opportunity to directly apply the knowledge and skills I have acquired, or rather: built. I am especially glad for having been fortunate enough to be able to work and further develop myself in a field that so directly corresponds to my academic background. At the same time, I realize the broader significance of the internationalization of Finnish brands and companies. Unfortunately, the comparison partly stems from witnessing firsthand the number of Finnish companies that are outstanding in their fields but still lack even the skills that are taught on the very first courses of the International Business Master’s Program, and fail to make the international breakthroughs they deserve due to shortfalls that should be easily rectified. My hope is that year by year we, the alumni of today and tomorrow, will be able to introduce what to many companies is a new way of thinking, and hopefully can inject a much-needed boost into the Finnish export business. The change in mentality is already visible in many fields, but there’s still much work to be done!
Jukka Kylliäinen, Shopper Based Design Manager, Procter & Gamble
I had studied International Business in my Bachelor’s degree and found it to give a very useful overall skillset for the corporate world. I always wished to work for an international organization and the capabilities IB builds fit very well with the demands of such a workplace – with a wide mix of cultures and geographical diversity.
I am very passionate about great brands. Throughout my studies as well as in personal life I have always been interested in great brands and how they are built – whether it was watching amazing advertisement or enjoying these brands myself.
The School of Business provides one with a great set of skills to effectively work in most organizations and deliver results. And this is possible without limiting the field or type of organization so it provided me with a great deal of freedom to find my place and a field that I am passionate about.
Procter & Gamble was a logical choice for me to apply given my passion for great brands and the skillset I had gotten during my studies related to working in a global organization. I started in a Key Account Manager position in which an IB background is very beneficial as you need to understand your customer’s business from several viewpoints in order to effectively find common business opportunities and thus grow your business with them. After two years in account management I moved into my current role as Shopper Based Design manager for Finland. I am now responsible for bringing P&G’s extensive research in shopper psychology alive in Finnish retail stores to make the shopping experience more effective and enjoyable. My current function is a very international one with a team that spans several countries and languages. IB studies have helped me overcome some of the challenges this brings as well as equipped me well for working in a multicultural environment.
I love that the company gives all of us ownership over our business. We are given tangible targets and a set of tools to achieve them and then left with a lot of freedom for creativity and hard work. Also as a build-from-within company Procter & Gamble invests a lot of time and money into training us and providing us with mentorship and guidance. As all new managers, up to CEO level, will always be promoted from within the company, there is a real link between future success of the firm and its employees.
In my opinion the M&IB master’s provides you with a great overall understanding of how business is done in an international context. This is a key competence in a variety of roles one can play during their career – whether it is sales, marketing, consulting or general management. Having been exposed to a mix of course material on how different parts of an organization work and how they fit in together is a major asset in building a successful career either in an existing corporation or even when building your own as a start-up.
I have always been interested in different cultures and global issues, but also communication, marketing, leadership… And the list continues. By choosing IB I did not have to leave anything out. In fact, with IB I was able to tie them all together.
Tuuli Hakkarainen, Doctoral Candidate, Aalto University School of Business
Tuuli Hakkarainen, Doctoral Candidate, Aalto School of Business
When people ask me: “Why would you study international business as all business is international anyways” I answer them: “Isn’t it exactly why one should study IB?” In fact, it seems that knowledge on various topics of IB is more important than ever in the increasingly global business environment. Besides the specific knowledge, I feel there are three learning points that have been extremely valuable for the postgraduate life.
Firstly, it is the helicopter view. If you are like me who aim to see the big picture and understand how things link together, IB is the right choice for you. I have always been interested in different cultures and global issues, but also communication, marketing, leadership… And the list continues. By choosing IB I did not have to leave anything out. In fact, with IB I was able to tie them all together.
Secondly, IB has a great community. Not only does this cover the truly international group of like-minded fellow students coming from around the world but in terms of research, Aalto IB is doing well worldwide. Studying IB is a great opportunity to get to know those experts whose work you have read. In fact, it may happen that you start to love IB so much that you want to continue that journey in a form of a PhD. This happened to me.
Lastly, and most importantly, during IB studies, you start developing a global mindset. By a global mindset I mean a flexible mindset with high cultural intelligence and skills needed to interact with people coming from different backgrounds. I see this as a key competence which has often been confirmed when discussing with people with global careers. They agree on the fact that mindset is what distinguishes high potential from the pool of applicants. If you are ready to start questioning that mindset is something that is fixed but rather, could be developed, there won’t be a better time to start investing in developing a global mindset than during your Master’s studies in IB.
Dmitry Samusev, Senior Purchasing Manager, Procter & Gamble
Greetings Dear Friends,
I might assume that since you’re reading this, you are probably now standing on the crossroads facing the choice of which school and Master’s program to apply to. Indeed, this choice will bring you amazing new challenges and opportunities and will definitely impact your future career and life.
I hope that sharing a bit of the experience I gained while studying at Aalto School of Business at the International Business (IB) program will help you to take the right decision.
I started my studies in Moscow at School of Economics majoring in Management. After 4 years in the program I had to decide if I keep on doing the Masters at the same University or take the risk to try something completely different and challenging.
Always feeling passionate about changes, I made my choice to move to another country to continue my studies and to learn from a different culture. My clear priorities were to improve my professional and social skills, to collaborate in a cross cultural context, to build strong networks and to get the very best and well recognized education.
Aalto University became the “school of the choice” due to the high rating in various business school assessments, and, what is even more important, due to the extremely positive references from my peers and friends.
I applied to the IB program since it matched my profile and learning expectations 100 % with its strategic focus, multinational collaboration, and global benchmark business practices. If I started listing all interesting learning experiences or practices obtained from the school, the list would be endless. One of the most important skills and knowledge Aalto equips you with though is the ability to implement the knowledge to the real-life business cases.
In almost every course we had an opportunity to meet and discuss the business perspectives with the top managers of the biggest and the most successful companies worldwide. Even more interesting is that the projects and team assignments done during the courses were aimed to solve a specific case or issue that companies were currently facing. I must say that the experience you get from being involved in the job that has the final, “tangible” outcome for globally leading companies is priceless.
Before my graduation. I received a job offer from Procter and Gamble (one of the most recognized multinationals) to work in Purchases Department. Looking back in time, I clearly understand that the knowledge, communication and collaboration skills learnt at the Aalto School of Business brought me significant competitive advantages, allowing me to be selected to work for one of the highest rated companies worldwide.
After three years with P&G I realize that Aalto University and IB taught me and equipped me with the abilities to do business, to take the challenges, to benefit from diversity and to grow personally and professionally.
I truly believe that the school is doing the utmost to grow the skillful and agile professionals, who can be celebrated and recognized across various industries, markets or business directions. I have no doubt in that Aalto University has been one of the major contributors not only to my career, but also to my whole life.
With that, I want to wish you good luck and all the best in choosing your path, and I do hope that Aalto will be your school of choice.
Studying International Business helped me to understand the context in which business operates in the broadest sense.
Arno Kourula, Assistant Professor, University of Amsterdam Business School
Arno Kourula, Assistant Professor, University of Amsterdam Business School
After having lived abroad most of my life, I wanted to stay in my native land, Finland, to get to know it better. Aalto School of Business (Helsinki School of Economics at the time) was an easy choice as the leading business school, likely to provide a solid education. The international nature of studying International Business was definitely the most important criteria for choosing IB as my major. Coming from a diplomatic family, I grew up in Bangkok, Geneva, New York and Espoo. “International” has always been an essential part of my life and this felt like a natural continuation to this.
My fondest memories from university are of the multitude of team assignments that we did until 2 a.m. and a range of writings that opened my eyes. Especially the International Design Business Management program taught me about different perspectives and what teamwork is really about.
After graduating from business school, I spent a year at Save the Children Finland. Then I got interested in doctoral studies and continued in International Business until I got my doctorate in 2009. After this I spent 2 years as a researcher at Stanford University in California and now I have worked 2 years at the University of Amsterdam as an Assistant Professor of Strategy.
During my studies, I became fascinated with corporate responsibility and sustainability and I am still on the same path of trying to understand what it is. I am passionate about social justice and ecological sustainability and my focus has been on understanding what the role of business in achieving these goals is.
Studying International Business helped me to understand the context in which business operates in the broadest sense. I was fascinated by the theories presented and often thought they should be developed further or even rewritten. I am still on this path. I am obviously deeply indebted to Finland for providing me a very high quality free education that got me where I am today.
As an academic, you are free to explore any question that you would like to. Such freedom allows you to focus on what you are passionate about in collaboration with colleagues around the world. Every week I also get to discuss these issues with incredibly intelligent and dedicated students.
I still don’t know what I would like to do when I grow up and I certainly did not imagine my life to be like this when I graduated. In a series of fortunate events, I have found beauty and meaning in working as an extensively travelling curious scholar. What will happen in the future is yet to be written, but I am sure I will continue doing interesting things with interesting people in interesting ways to try to achieve societal impact.
During your studies, I would urge the students studying M&IB Master’s at Aalto to get to know the u School of Business faculty. They are great people. At the same time, you might want to consider whether doing a doctorate might be the right choice for you.
Heikki Takala, CEO, Amersports
I’m currently CEO in Amersports, which is a global Sports, Outdoor and Fitness company with world-leading brands such as Salomon, Atomic, Wilson, Arc’teryx, and Suunto. I studied in Helsinki School of Economics and graduated 1992. My major was International Business and for my minor studies I chose Finance & Accounting, and English. Alongside my studies I gained various work experiences in sales, accounting, finance, and teaching in Business College.
I chose Helsinki School of Economics for its reputation of good quality and relevant curriculum to prepare me for my career aspiration. The Business programs were good and the language programs were rich, providing a solid toolbox for my professional career. I was always impressed by the quality of the professors and teachers who provided outstanding learning opportunity to us students whilst making it fun and personal. This created a unique positive atmosphere in the school. My year-long exchange period abroad, first working in Madrid, and then studying 2 terms in ESADE Barcelona complemented my Helsinki curriculum with more practical orientation.
After graduation I joined Procter&Gamble in Stockholm Sweden, and spent 18 years in various international Brand and Commercial leadership roles mostly in Switzerland. In 2010 I joined Amersports as CEO.
For students and applicants I would like to give the following advice. Be strategic with your choices: first set your longer-term career aspiration, and then acquire the right skills and experience to advance toward that aspiration. For example, if you want to have an international career, get international work and study experience, and go to work abroad directly after your studies. From a business skills perspective, you should master the “fundamentals” in sales, marketing, and finance. And multiple language skills, coupled with multi-cultural approach, are a must in today’s world. Finally, work hard, and focus on the things you enjoy.