Meet our Alumni

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Minna Hiillos, Director, Business Programs at Haaga-Helia University of Applied Sciences (graduated in 2004)

"My main reason for aiming for a PhD degree was to get a deeper insight into a phenomenon I had encountered in working life. Also, after roughly 10 years in working life, I was again thirsty for new knowledge. Now I can say that that the Hanken PhD offered me much more than what I could ever have anticipated.

The supervision was very personal and that is something that I really appreciated. Also my department was very ambitious and wanted to be benchmarked with the best standards in academia. This obviously had an impact on doctoral students also. The best parts of the learning process were participating in international doctoral courses and conferences.

After my PhD I first stayed at Hanken for four years working on a large research project on women's leadership. Hanken also offered many other possibilities to develop myself and I was e.g. teaching at the Hanken MBA

A PhD degree is a prerequisite for my current position as Associate Dean and Business Area Director of Aalto's MBA and EMBA Programs, but the skills I have acquired during my studies would have been relevant in any other leadership position. I strongly believe that a PhD takes your analytical and problem-solving skills to a whole new level. Also, a PhD gives you tools to approach complex issues - a task that many managers and leaders struggle with. Further, a PhD teaches you to express yourself clearly and in a logical manner which is a key requirement in many managerial positions.

Last but not least, I think my fellow doctoral students and the whole Hanken community gave me an experience that has enriched my personal life in uncountable ways."

Heidi Schauman, Chief Economist, Aktia Bank (graduated in 2006)

“When choosing university I searched for an intimate school where students are persons, not numbers. At the same time I wanted to have internationally renowned professors that took a genuine interest in students and had the time to guide them. I chose Hanken and have never regretted that choice. My years at Hanken turned out to be some of the most exciting and rewarding years of my life. The studies were motivating and interesting; the inspiring social life presented an unexpected bonus. Not only did I find a lot of friends through the student union, I found my future husband outside one of the lecture halls! Hanken’s strength lies in combining strong academic performance and qualified teaching with great opportunities to build networks, find friends and establish relationships for a lifetime.”

Natasa Golik Klanac, Managing director, as2con. (graduated in 2008)

"I pursued PhD studies in marketing in order to expand my marketing expertise and research capabilities. Hanken seemed the best choice due to the high quality of its professors and its international environment. Finland, in addition, offered a most comfortable working and living atmosphere.

Through my studies, I received a very relevant research freedom and a sufficient guidance when needed. The courses I took and the conferences I attended enabled me to meet and cooperate with the most prominent academics in my research field.

The PhD degree enabled me to work in the field of business development of my own company. Currently, I am a managing director of a business and engineering research and consulting company as2con. Besides operational skills, my work requires a comprehensive view, constructive criticism, ability to distinguish relevant details and out-of-the-box thinking, all of which I have advanced at Hanken."

Henrik Tötterman, Dean of Accreditations, Hult International Business School (graduated in 2008)

"Already during my Master's studies research started to fascinate me, and later on I found that doctoral studies opened an entirely new world and a new view of the world. Pursuing a PhD degree was, however, in no way self-evident for me as I come from a family of entrepreneurs and had started my first business at age 19. But my MSc supervisor at Hanken, Jan Sten, was both demanding and a great mentor throughout the process of writing my thesis. He encouraged me to publish my master's thesis findings in a peer-reviewed journal, and gradually talked me into applying to Hanken's PhD programme.

For me, Hanken was a natural choice due to my successful previous studies. I always found the work environment productive, collegial, and stimulating with a very low hierarchy amongst junior and senior researchers and professors. I remain forever grateful for the strong professional, social, and financial support Hanken offered me throughout the years.

I see Hanken as an international university well-known for its research excellence in finance, marketing, and management. Despite its heavy research focus, teaching is practice-oriented, experiential pedagogy is emphasized, and the school operates in close proximity with the surrounding business world. In particular, Hanken & SSE Executive Education provides a great platform for interaction with corporations, mainly for professors but also PhD students.

As a Dean of a business school a PhD could be described as the license to operate. However, this would be a rather narrow view of the benefits from obtaining a PhD I experienced the research years as an explorative journey into the unknown, and many times learning from the journey became more important than actually reaching a defendable outcome.

While working at Hanken I personally developed a competence in academic and operations management, and I benefited from the international atmosphere. Succeeding in my current job requires strong cross-cultural communication skills, the ability to lead international teams and to focus on budget management. My studies and employment at Hanken provided a strong base for being considered for and succeeding in a highly international and rapidly evolving business education industry. I think Hanken helped me to develop the following competences:

  • Being analytic, goal-driven, and yet practically oriented
  • Competence to crystallize and visualize complex ideas
  • Teaching and research skills"

Syed Mujahid Hussain, Assistant professor, Sultan Qaboos University (graduated in 2009)

"After working for about two years in an oil refinery in Pakistan, I decided to come to do a masters' in Computational Finance at Hanken school of Economics. The master's degree provided me with the impetus to apply for doctoral studies. The potential supervision in the area of my research interests and the possibility to join the graduate school of Finance (GSF) supported my decision to stay at Hanken school of Economics for PhD studies. During the doctoral studies, I very much enjoyed the professional support from faculty, the good research network and the collegial environment at the department of Finance.

Overall, the learning process during the PhD studies at Hanken was very fulfilling and it equipped me with all the necessary skills to develop my career as a professional researcher.

After completing my PhD at Hanken, I have worked as a visiting researcher at the department of monetary policy and research, Bank of Finland in Helsinki. Currently I am back at Hanken working as an Assistant Professor at the department of Finance."

Suvi Nenonen, Associate professor, University of Auckland Business School, New Zealand (graduated in 2009)

"For most of my career I have been working in professional services: research or consulting, but I have always had this desire to continue studies after my MSc. degree. I had a sort of hunger for more knowledge - and seeing whether I have it in me to do a PhD.

The choice of Hanken was very easy. I had a clearly defined topic in mind that I wanted to investigate in my PhD thesis, customer asset management, and all the best professors in the larger related field of relationship management were at Hanken. I wanted to be with the best, it was as simple as that.

I did most of my courses during the first year, and the thesis writing took place during weekends and holidays. I was fortunate enough to get Tore Strandvik as my supervisor, and he was just amazing in helping me to understand the differences between consulting and academic research - and how they can cross paths in a fruitful way.

I defended my PhD thesis in September 2009, and within a month I was invited as a partner to Vectia - so conducting PhD studies on the side didn't seem to harm my career development, quite to the contrary. Nowadays I work as an Associate Professor at the University of Auckland Business School in New Zealand, which would be impossible without the PhD degree, so a Hanken PhD can literally carry you to the other side of the world! Also my PhD has enabled me to continue my affiliation with Hanken as well, teaching two courses per year for the Master's students in Marketing."

Paulina Junni, Associate professor, BI Norwegian Business School (graduated in 2012)

"My PhD studies were very independent - something I especially appreciate now, in retrospect. I was given a great deal of freedom to look into what interested me, with no pressure as to time limits. I found the atmosphere supportive and inspiring. My faculty often organized formal research seminars open to all faculty members (PhD students as well as professors). We also had less formal meetings and seminars amongst PhD students where we could present our work in progress and our ideas.

During the PhD process, as I learned more about the academic world, I began aiming at conducting research with enough theoretic significance to be published in high-ranking journals, to be read and quoted. This was partly "externally motivated" - I wished to continue my career in academia after my PhD. and I knew it was important to be published in these journals. I was also in part "internally motivated" - research should be relevant and significant, and the results of this research should be available to as many as possible.

My PhD at Hanken gave me the possibility to acquire the competence needed for the job I now hold. The teachers at my department at Hanken also thought it important to discuss various career strategies with students who wanted to pursue an academic career. I also think that Hanken's "brand" and my supervisors"brand" sent positive signals to the universities that I applied to after completing my PhD. As a lecturer, the research I conduct (both independently and together with others) is expected to be of the highest quality as well as relevant for both scholars and business enterprises. My Hanken PhD has given me the qualifications to meet these demands."

Jimi Siekkinen, Consultant, EY Stockholm (will graduate in 2016 in accounting)

My interest in applying for a PhD programme emerged during the final year of my Master’s studies. When conducting independent quantitative research related to my Master’s thesis, I found academic research very appealing. Hence, after encouragement from the staff of the Department of Accounting and Commercial Law at Hanken, I enrolled for the PhD programme in accounting and started directly after my graduation. I chose Hanken due to their strong academic record, well-structured PhD programme and guaranteed funding over the first 18 months of the programme.

During the PhD programme I had some doubts about the usefulness of theoretical research for my future professional career.  In the end, however, I am very pleased that I stuck with the PhD programme at Hanken, as the PhD studies truly developed my professional skills that I know will be useable in my future career. Through independent and international research, allowed and encouraged at Hanken, I have improved my critical thinking, developed my analytical skills, enhanced my presentation skills, established a wide network, and developed and deepened my knowledge in accounting and economics in general.

The fact that Hanken has increased its status as a leading business school in the Nordic countries, for example by being awarded triple accreditation and the listing on the Financial Times list of the best Masters’ programmes, has truly helped me in the job market. After deciding that I will pursue a professional career, it was relatively easy to land several job interviews both in Finland and abroad. It seems that firms are valuing the developed minds of people with a PhD degree, when it comes to advanced problem solving and analytical work tasks. I am utterly grateful that my PhD studies helped me get the job I really wanted. Finally, I strongly believe that the skills developed during my PhD-studies will be of great use in my future professional career.