From corporate learning to proactive public education

Everyday business conduct and learning at universities are both changing rapidly. At the turn of the century personal selling and sales management were finally acknowledged as competences that earn their places in the university curricula. From this viewpoint, the younger generation is nowadays privileged to learn and gain insights with experienced and seasoned mentors.

In the spring of 2015 – after 28 years of selling and managing through more than 100 business quarters – it was time for me to move on from frontline business action. I was done with hanging out on planes, airports and hotels, and jumping from continent to continent, country to country, meeting to meeting to secure successful sales operations for various high tech products like medicine, diagnostics and scientific instruments. I thought it was the right time for me to let the younger ones to step ahead and take the lead.

I am grateful to the management of Turku University of Applied Sciences for taking me on board and welcoming me to the business teaching regime. Since September 2015, it has been a constant joy to teach sales and leadership here at our university. During this time, I have got a very positive impression of our new generation – the young blood rising – our students. It is clear that the acquirements for business, sales and leadership conduct are much more advanced compared to my generation. The world is changing at an ever-accelerating speed due to faster problem solving capabilities. Artificial intelligence, robotics and gene technology will secure us an even brighter future.

We need the smart and brave youth to take the lead.

Although I have received education in biochemistry, I was eager to get into the commercialization action. The more international the operation, the better. I was lucky, I got my first job in a company exporting 99.5% of their production abroad on a global scale. One of the first tasks for a newly appointed product specialist was to give training to our global sales force. Well… before that you needed to learn a lot and quickly. With the scientific background my colleagues and I did not know a great deal about the required skills of presenting, communicating, motivating and leading.

In general the need for sales and leadership skills were still dramatically underestimated in Finland at late 1980s.

The only way was to get training while working. Learn by doing. Luckily, the leaders of commercial operations, and especially my leader for many tasks, years and businesses to come – Mr Jukka Lavi – wanted to build a world class operation. His ambitious goals for the success of Wallac-Pharmacia-EGG-Perkin Elmer secured an aggressive training programme for all the newcomers. I have seen three great leaders in action, those are Marijn Deckers (Bayer), Marc Casper (TMO) and Jukka Lavi. If anyone, it is Lavi I need to thank for my own business skills.

All the Wallac Oy newcomers spent several weeks at training centres such as the Management Centre Europe (Brussels) during the first years of our careers. In addition, local and global training consultants were actively utilized to increase our know-how on various business related issues. Companies like EGG Inc, Perkin Elmer Inc and Thermo Fisher Scientific Inc. had also their own leadership and sales institutes in Waltham, Boston and California. There we had the opportunity to enjoy world class training for several weeks from time to time. Does not sound too bad, but those were really busy and exhausting times. Many of us began building their careers and families simultaneously.

Here at Sepänkatu Campus I have learned how the world is changing into the right direction. We – the old workhorses – are finally giving sales and leadership education to our great young people in public institutions! All that we have learned in theory and in practice is now available for the students, the new performers. As a matter of fact, this is the first generation that will gain basic knowledge and acquirements for business conduct – especially sales and leadership – before the real action begins. This will automatically mean that learning by doing will be much faster for them when the time comes.

This is the first generation that will gain basic knowledge and acquirements for business conduct – especially sales and leadership – before the real action begins.

I am also happy to see that Innovation Pedagogy is finally taking place as a learning philosophy at schools. Innopeda tools like team work, project work, innovative problem solving teams, brainstorming and think walks have been used in successful businesses already for decades. It is high time to use these methods at schools, too, if not yet so done.

I have no doubt whatsoever that the new generation – the young blood rising – will make us ever more successful in commercialization, sales and leadership leading to growing healthy economy. This will secure adequate funds to cover also the public sector needs like day care, schooling, nursing and caring for our esteemed senior population. We can do it!

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