Jaakko Kiiskilä is the new mayor of Seinäjöki. His study path leading into this post is quite exceptional. His background does not include any youth politics, active participation in NGOs or pursuing social studies. Instead, there are studies in engineering, Finnish baseball, music and a master’s degree from the Faculty of Information Technology at the University of Jyväskylä. Kiiskilä considers these as strengths in his current post.
Kiiskilä originally comes from Seinäjoki. At upper secondary school, he had no specific career dreams, nor did he prefer any particular school subject to others. This young man was equally talented in everything.
“It was a blessing that I was a really good student. I figured that I would certainly get a study place somewhere.”
His parents wanted an academic career for their son, probably either in the field of sport or medicine. Kiiskilä decided to make a compromise and applied for a study place in electrical engineering. “I saw that technological studies provided a good general educational basis,” Kiiskilä explains. “I became a university student in electrical engineering when I started my studies in Vaasa.”
Kiiskilä was also a talented athlete who played Finnish baseball at the highest national level. In 2000, Jyväskylän Kiri recruited him from his original club Nurmon Jymy. This meant moving to Jyväskylä and at the same time he also left behind the engineering studies in Vaasa: “I became fond of Jyväskylä as a city and the University of Jyväskylä seemed an attractive place for a student,” he explains.
Kiiskilä’s new major was information systems science in the study line of digital media at the University of Jyväskylä. In his new hometown, he could combine sport and studies – in, at that time, the brand-new facilities in Agora. Although sport took most of Kiiskilä’s time, he studied not only his major but also broadly in mathematics, communication, and project management.
“Project management studies really gave me a lot. Our team worked for a real customer for several months. This gave a clear picture of working life in practice. Thereby I developed strong competence in group working and management.”
After ending his sport career, Kiiskilä devoted himself fully to his studies and graduated in a couple of years with a master’s economics and business administration. The fast rate of studying taught him learning skills, as he had to work hard to pass the courses. This was new to Kiiskilä, since studying had earlier been very easy for him. Still, some studies were easier than others: “The course on the history of western popular music was awesome! It didn’t even feel like studying,” he says.
“The studies also increased my desire to solve wicked problems. University studies led to an approach that things are to be taken under control.”
Besides sport, music has been a beloved hobby for Kiiskilä. Music also brought many good friendships and networks. Kiiskilä had no time for Student Union and subject association activities. Instead, he got to know Ilokivi as a venue for gigs, as he played in a number of bands. In a couple of instances, he worked there as a DJ as well.
After graduating, Kiiskilä worked in a software company, from where he moved first to the administrative director’s post in Toivakka and later to Laukaa. He has worked as the municipal manager of Laukaa since 2013. Having an impact on things and promoting the matters of the local population are what motivates him.
Kiiskilä still has a very close relationship to the University of Jyväskylä, serving as a board member in the Jyväskylä University Foundation. He finds that the values of the academic world apply in municipal administration as well.
“In my job, I seek to be as objective as possible. One must try to treat everybody on an equal basis.”
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