Wednesday 10th of April 2013 saw the very first sustainable career night organized by SBC. Many of us interested in sustainability have come across the apparent lack of sustainability related jobs, let alone examples of career paths to follow. While company excursions are usually good and interesting too, they are often limited in their view, and organizing them frequently takes resources. So we came up with the idea of having a career night, concept familiar at least to those studying at BIZ, but with a sustainability theme. Multiple speakers = multiple organizations = multiple examples was the idea. So we got on it, and were pleasantly surprised as to how easy it was securing both speakers as well as an audience! As the day came, the atmosphere in Yläkertsi was enthusiastic. About 55 students from all three different campuses (Otaniemi, Arabia, Töölö) and apparently a few from Hanken too, gathered to hear the presentations of five interesting speakers we had invited:
After we had booked our speakers, we realized that they were all women. This was not deliberate, but the chance was maybe a healthy reminder that CSR is still to an extent, the realm of women. Our audience too, was by our estimate, tipped in the favour of females, but the distribution was closer to 60-40. Does gender even matter really? Yes and no. While the five female speakers were certainly not of the same mould in terms of what they do or how they got there, it’s rarely beneficial that an area or industry is or is viewed as solely one sex. Still, it’s something to take into account when, and if, we are preparing the next installment of SBC Career night.
So what did the speakers have to say? The following is not by any means intended as summary of the presentations, for that you’ll have to join us the next time and take notes yourself :). For starters, none of them were hiring at the moment. We didn’t really expect them to do that, and hope that our audience didn’t either. Besides and via shedding light on the current sustainability related projects in their organizations, it became obvious that there is demand for operating sustainably.
Yet the road the speakers had taken to be where they were today was often not that obvious, and sometimes required a fair bit of trailblazing. For example, Laura Varpasuo started at Nokia already in 1994, when sustainability, as we understand it today, didn’t even exist. Riikka Poukka had to first launch the CSR function at Alma Media, prior to taking helm of it. ImpactHouse, represented by Jaana Merenmaa, a health care and hat making professional, was the freshest of the bunch, as the organization had just been started a few months ago. Their idea was to bring retired experts, eager students and anyone else with passion and free time together to work on societal problems. How this works remains to be seen. Julia Illman, a sustainability consultant, had often said "I'll never end up doing..." and then found herself doing just that.The common denominator, if there was one, was that sometimes it's good to take a little detour.
Minna Halme was no exception, even though her line of work is a bit different from the others. She had very interesting introspection as to whether she thinks she has an bigger impact working as a scholar, than she would if she was working in the corporate sector. The answer was yes, even if the influence she has on her students is often not that visible. Then again, those students include besides many of us, top Finnish executives through Aalto Executive Education.