| 12.05.2022

Alumnus of the year Joel Sunabacka: Sports teams and teams in working life identical in many ways

Joel Sunabacka Årets alumn 2022
Hanken School of Economics annually nominates Alumni of the Year, a Hanken alumnus/alumna who has kept in touch with the School after graduating and who has received recognition for his or her involvement in society. This year, the title went to Joel Sunabacka from Vaasa.

- I am very happy to announce that Joel Sunabacka is Alumnus of the Year. He is very involved in Hanken's operations and has kept in close contact with Hanken after his studies. His sympathetic personality and inclusive attitude create great possibilities for collaboration throughout the Vaasa region, says Karen Spens, Hanken's Rector.

Sunabacka received the award at Hankendagen in Vaasa on 12 May 2022. You can see Sunabacka's video greeting to the audience on Hankendagen here.

- It feels incredibly nice to receive this award! Every day I work with other Hanken alumni and see how hard they work, so you become really humble and proud to have been chosen, says a happy Joel Sunabacka.

For him, Hanken means colleagues, friends in private life and networks that he hangs out with on a daily basis. The handle has also been a seal of quality that has opened many doors for Sunabacka.

Always the youngest, everywhere

Despite his young age of 34, Sunabacka has already had a breathtaking career. Already as a 16-year-old he moved away from home to make a career in the football club FC Haka, with an FM silver as the best result. During his studies, he started working at LokalTapiola, advanced to the bank director at the Bank of Åland as a 28-year-old and will just take over as CEO of LokalTapiola in Ostrobothnia. In addition, he is the youngest Alumnus of the Year that Hanken has nominated.

- My age used to always be a problem, says Sunabacka. I have always had to prove myself more than others and when I became bank director I even tried to hide my age. Nowadays I think it's just a positive thing and many people appreciate that I'm so young.

The experiences from his early sports career have been of great benefit to him in working life as well. Well-being in the workplace is one of Sunabacka's guiding stars.

- My biggest challenge as a leader is how to build a winning work culture. Well-being is extremely important and just like in team sports, you can not pull a team alone. It is important to identify who is best at what and place the right people in the right positions so that everyone is happy and the team is successful.

Sunabacka to the students: take advantage of the time abroad

When Sunabacka looks back on his study time and reflects on what tips he would give to current students, he recommends investing in the exams and the study assignments to do. According to him, you then learn to process large amounts of information quickly and it is a skill you will need in working life. Another important experience was the compulsory exchange studies.

- If the exchange had not been mandatory, I probably would not have gone abroad at all during my studies. In retrospect, I can state that the stay at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York, was one of the best and most rewarding experiences throughout my studies, says Sunabacka.

In his work, Sunabacka employs many students as hourly employees and also encourages students to gain work experience in addition to their studies. He points out that you do not need to know a lot when you start a job, but the attitude is important.

- Come in with the right attitude, that you can and you want to help and dare to show your personality! This makes an impression that then remains and can help you possibly get a permanent job at the same workplace in the long run, Sunabacka suggests.

- Finally, I want to greet the students to be open, build relationships and give Hanken an opportunity to change your future. I would never have thought that the closest people in my life have a connection to my study time and to Hanken, he concludes.