| 13.02.2020

Honorary Doctor Kersti Kaljulaid: “I think of the economy from a human perspective”

Estlands president Kersti Kaljulaid står på scenen i festsalen med sin doktorshatt och sitt diplom.
During the Partner Assembly on 6 February, the Estonian President Kersti Kaljulaid was conferred as Honorary Doctor. She was conferred for her contribution to promote digitalisation.

Estonia has been a forerunner in digitalisation, and for President Kersti Kaljulaid it’s natural that the public sector should maintain the same standard as the private sector. Estonia began the digitalisation process about 20 years ago, and at that time, Kaljulaid worked for the Prime Minister, Mart Laar. She says they were surprised by how astonished many were about the government’s digitalisation move.

“We didn’t know that the rest of the developed world nicely accepted governments falling behind the private sector in this area. We were astonished when people asked us whether it was really true that government members used computers in the meetings.”

“How does a minister differ from a CEO?  The papers were writing about us and about a phenomenon that at the time was totally normal in private sector, as something wonderful in public sector.”

"Digital technology a great equalizer"

Kaljulaid was conferred as Honorary Doctor for her work for an efficient, equal and functioning society in which digitalisation supports societal development. In her speech at the ceremony, Kaljulaid said she sees digital technology as an important factor of equality.

“With the government office in Estonia now open 365 days a year and 24 hours a day, there is total accessibility. Digital technology can be a great equalizer, liberaliser and globaliser of society – if we allow it to be”, says Kaljulaid.

She also spoke about technological development making it difficult to know what to teach future generations, since their technology will be completely different from ours. According to Kaljulaid, the new jobs that will be created as a result of technology are related to human interaction, meaning that empathy becomes increasingly important to learn.

“I’ve thought about it a lot and have reached the conclusion that we have to teach our children to be compassionate human beings because of the technological world we live in. New jobs are all about being human, our children are specialised in being human beings in this technological world. This is what I wanted to tell you tonight”, Kaljulaid ended her speech.

Interested in the human being

It’s the human perspective in her own work that she highlights when asked how she wants to stay connected to Hanken in the future.

“I hope that I will have an opportunity to come and discuss economy and society with people at Hanken in order to develop our shared knowledge. I have a degree in business administration, but I still feel that my first degree in natural sciences and genetic engineering makes me more interested in human beings and how they can adapt to modern societies. I think about technology from the human perspective, and I hope it can be useful for Hanken.”

Hanken Partner Assembly

– The Partner Assembly is an event arranged as a thank you to those who continually support and cooperate with Hanken.

– It was organized for the first time on 6 February this year. The next Partner Assembly is in 2022.

– In addition to Kaljulaid’s conferment, two scholarships were awarded:

  • Hanken’s biggest scholarship for a student, the 15 000-euro Fazer Award, was given to the Hanken student Max Heino.
  • The Executive MBA Award was given to Layal Omar, who has participated as a student in the Business Lead programme at Hanken & SSE Executive Education.