On October 30th, twelve students received the opportunity to spend a day with a business leader as JA Finland organized the e-Leaders for a Day event together with nine companies and organizations.
Top business leaders from Citi, Amcham, Federation of Finnish Financial Services, SEB, Grant Thornton, Microsoft, Cisco, Accenture, and GE agreed to spend a day with a student. Each participating student was assigned a leader, whose normal work day they got to follow.
“Not sitting in a cubicle”
For the student the day was a valuable glimpse not only into the field of the person they followed, but also to the culture and methods of working life.
“I learned that meetings don’t have to be boring and that an office can be open. It doesn’t have to be just sitting in a cubicle,” says 18-year-old Siiri Sutinen, who got to follow Microsoft’s HR manager Sanna Lindner.
Lasse Lehtonen, 19, agreed with Siiri. Lasse is a freshman in the energy and information technology in the University of Vaasa. Lasse got to follow Microsoft’s CEO Ari Rahkonen for the day.
“Office culture is no longer what we saw in the movies from the 80s. During the day I learned what leading a large company is like in practice and how hierarchy works, Lasse says.
Both Siiri and Lasse said they want to become entrepreneurs. This experience gave them many new perspectives to their dream. The day spent learning with a leader also got Lasse to make decisions about his future.
“I now dare to aim higher and have the courage to do things. I’ve been considering founding a firm and now I finally decided to do it,” he says.
“Building readiness and networks”
The leaders also considered the a learning experience. They got to know how students view the world and working life.
“I found the day to be reversed mentoring even for us. Young smart people move the world forward and it was great to hear what ideas Nicholas, among other, had,” says Mika Rossi of Accenture.
Mika Rossi’s partner was Nicholas Mylläri from Ressun Lukio high school.
Also Amcham’s CEO Kristiina Helenius believes it is important for an organization to hear youths’ thoughts on working life.
“I agreed to go along with the program to help students, but often you end up learning more yourself.”
Helenius reminds us that experiences such as Leader for a Day are important to youths, as they give them contacts which may turn out to be extremely significant during their lives.
“Many of the jobs available to day may not exist after a year, or five, or ten. It’s difficult for youths to think about graduating from school to a certain profession. This experience is more about building readiness and networks for future. It helps youths change their course quickly when the need arises,” Helenius says.
Helenius was paired Hermanni Toivo from Ressun Lukio high school.
The day was a pan-European event
The E-Leaders for a Day program is in use in eight different European countries. A total of 80 students and 80 leaders from 60 different companies and organizations participated in the events. The day’s European theme was “e-Leadership and digital entrepreneurship.” Our main Finnish partner was Microsoft.
E-Leaders for a Day is based on JA Finland Job Shadow activity model. Read more about the model at nuoriyrittajyys.fi/jobshadow.
Meet the e-Leaders for a Day pairings:
Ari Rahkonen (Microsoft) and Lasse Lehtonen.
Jukka Honkaniemi (SEB) and Saija Pyysiäinen.
Piia-Noora Kauppi (Federation of Finnish Financial Services) and Pauliina Kallioinen.
Juha-Pekka Keimmo (Revico Grant Thornton) and Topias Kokkinen.
Joakim Joensuu and Simo Leisti (Cisco). “The day gave me hope that the next generation will put us in our place. They are all unbelievably gifted,” says Cisco’s CEO for Finland and the Baltics Simo Leisti, who was paired with 18-year-old Joakim Joensuu from Helsinki Business College.
Kari Laukkanen (Citi Finland) and Karoliina Piiroinen.
Nicholas Mylläri and Mika Rossi (Accenture).
Mikko Kauppinen (GE) and Juho Simola.
Sanna Lindner (Microsoft) and Siiri Sutinen.
Hermanni Toivo and Kristiina Helenius (Amcham)
Camilla Lindfors (Microsoft) and Helena Rauhala.
Max Mickelsson (Microsoft) and Santeri Seppälä. “I hope I learned a good attitude towards work from Max. The day has been darn fun and challenging,” said high school student Santeri Seppälä, who got to follow Max Mickelson, Senior Manager of Corporate Affair and CSR.
See all e-Leader for a Day photographs in JA Finland’s Google+ picture folder.
A video about the events is also to be published soon. Short introductions to participating leader and students can be found at leadersforaday.ja-ye.org/locations/helsinki.