16.5. 2011 Kuukauden kasvo

Olli Aaltonen: Building bridges between students and employers

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This spring, for the first time after 25 years of finding jobs for university students in Turku, the recruitment agency Legioona moved outside the student building. Established by the Association of Economics Students in Turku in 1986 under the name KY-Contact, the company found a new home at the heart of Turku Science Park, on the ground floor of BioCity.

A wind of change is blowing in the company, largely thanks to B.Sc. Olli Aaltonen, Managing Director since last October. Over the past 20 years, Olli has worked in various jobs, serving the business life of the Turku region. Through the local management tasks in sales and marketing at DHL and SAS Blue1 he gained experience in the transport and logistics sector. In autumn 2008 he moved on to HR as he started - just as the recession hit - as the head of Celectus Oy's Turku office, specialising in new customer prospecting and increasing sales. However, due to the recession the operations in Turku were run down and now Olli Aaltonen is in charge of Legioona.

"Celectus specialises in concepts for new customer prospecting, so it was a logical step in my career in service business operations, sales and logistics. Although my time there was cut short, I can now use all the knowledge that I have gained at Legioona."

At the interface between students and employers

One part of Mr Aaltonen's job will be to coach junior salesmen.

"We are looking for sales experts for various fields and support their progress. The degree programme in sales at the Turku University of Applied Sciences gives the companies in our region a perfect opportunity to find sales-oriented employees."

"For example, the start-up companies operating in the Turku Science Park area need educated people from various fields of expertise. Our CV database contains 1,500 names, so finding skilled students for part-time financial administration or marketing jobs is easy. Students are accustomed to e.g. interacting via social media, so using their assistance in, say, creating a social media strategy seems natural. Statistics students, on the other hand, can be helpful in e.g. drawing up demanding background reports using statistical research methods."

Mr Aaltonen says that Legioona wants to build bridges between employer companies and institutions of higher education. Co-operation with the Student Union of the Turku University of Applied Sciences (TUO) and the Student Union of the University of Turku (TYY) gives a strong social aspect to the operations.

"We offer jobs to students at different stages of their studies and seek growth especially in the trainee sector. Advanced student employees bring fresh research and theoretical expertise to the company, while they gain practical work experience and are able to identify their ambitions and competencies more clearly."

Olli Aaltonen says that so far this has been a year of strong growth for Legioona. The turnover of recruitment agencies is recovering from the fall that followed the recession, and he sees surprisingly positive vibes in the whole Turku region.

"The shipyard crisis does not show as seriously as one could imagine. There are signs of gradual recovery. After all, the maritime cluster is an international operator and the importance of the Turku shipyard has decreased, as the subcontractors also make deliveries to shipyards in Germany and Italy."

Student life knowledge

As the knowledge of academic and student life is important for the job, it does not hurt to be a student oneself. Mr Aaltonen aims at completing his studies for the Master's degree in economics and business administration within two years. Through his studies he has met new people and thereby formed stronger networks in the university environment. The international atmosphere also opens up good opportunities for the companies operating in the Turku region.

"There are many international students in Turku willing to work. At the same time, many companies already use English, so international students could be helpful in preparing internationalisation projects, for example."

Olli Aaltonen's family includes a wife and sons aged 6, 8 and 15. The family lives in Kuusisto, Kaarina, but is getting ready to move to Nummenpakka district, closer to the throbbing life of the city. Despite the urban surroundings, the new home is an old log house in need of renovation, something Olli is looking forward to starting.

He also enjoys jogging and sailing. Cooking is an equally important hobby, and his position as the deputy chairman of Varsinais-Suomen MiesMartat ry (a local club for male members of the Martha organisation, a Finnish home economics organisation, in Southwest Finland) brings its own perspective to it.

"It's like a cooking club for guys which brings 30 men together once a month. We learn new things and acquaint ourselves with a theoretical framework for preparing food", Mr Aaltonen describes.

Olli Aaltonen
- Born in Turku on 6 October 1967
- Bachelor of Science (Economics and Business Administration), Vocational Qualification in Business and Administration
- Previously employed e.g. by DHL as a regional manager for Turku and by SAS Blue1 as sales manager, as well as running Celectus Oy's office in Turku
- Started as the Managing Director of Legioona Oy in October 2010
- Family: married with three sons
- Hobbies include sailing, jogging and cooking

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Olli Aaltonen has worked as CEO at Legioona since last autumn.