Eija Hakakari, HR Director of Yle, the Finnish Broadcasting Company, has always sought meaningful positions. For most of her career, Hakakari has worked as an HR Director. She has work experience from Finnair, Stora Enso, and Rautaruukki, among others. Working with people has always motivated her. For her, personal appreciation and empathy are central.
Eija Hakakari comes from Alavus in Ostrobothnia. As a young upper secondary school graduate, she did not have no clear picture of what her occupation would be. Jyväskylä felt like a natural place for further studies. “I was convinced that the University of Jyväskylä would offer the best study opportunities for behavioural sciences,” Hakakari says.
“Education, economics, psychology, social policy – in Jyväskylä I found interesting themes in all of them, which provided a broad window to different professions.”
From her years as a student, Eija remembers outings with friends, pizza evenings after exams, and the communal spirit amid the pursuit of study credits. Together with others, they found inspiring themes, which they then started to apply.
However, the most significant aspects of her time at university comprised the acquisition of broad-based skills and knowledge, increased independence, and building of networks. “Without the good course mates and enthusiastic professors, I would have learned much less,” Eija says.
The hilly landscape of Jyväskylä became familiar from cycling, with a few good tumbles too. Although the spills resulted in some memorable bruises, Hakakari says that she is almost longing for such a hilly landscape.
Human behaviour and its diversity emerge constantly in daily life. “How we understand each other and how we can influence in various ways – these are ideas I got from the lecture halls of Seminaarinmäki.
“I am happy that they guided us to broad-based studies at the university, and the significance of these does indeed show in working life. A wide range of studies in addition to the major subject studies is a valuable asset to take along.”
After graduating with a Master’s in Education, Hakakari got her first job at the Family Care Department of the City of Vaasa. It turned out to be the most burdensome and demanding job of her entire working life.
Hakakari stresses that she has always sought meaningful positions. In her HR jobs, she has gone through several change processes. Each of them has been a big place for growth. “When I was hired in Rautaruukki, the corporation was in a period of strong growth,” she says. “Almost immediately, the financial crisis hit and totally upset the world economy.”
Each job has given some lessons to take along and draw on in the future. When her husband’s work took them to Shanghai, Eija quickly adapted to the new situation. She decided to establish a firm with a colleague of hers, which helped Finnish companies recruit, build an organisation, and get integrated in China. She spent a year in full-time language studies at a local university.
“A common language is fundamental to any operation, and proficiency in the local language was an asset. It has been useful also later, for example at work in Finnair.”
In her working career, Eija Hakakari has seen leadership change in varying directions. Now the focus is on participatory human resource management and self-directing. Eija sees it as the biggest change in comparison to the hierarchical management culture of the late 1980s. “Management needs to be agile and human oriented, as the different stages and situations of a company call for different management.”
Hakakari has always wanted to work with people. “Goals are achieved by collaboration,” she explains. “An individual person cannot accomplish anything alone, other people are needed for a joint effort.” According to Hakakari, an HR organisation is responsible for ensuring that people are involved in the strategy.
“Personal appreciation and empathy are essential. They carry me forward in my work and help me find solutions even in difficult situations.”
For Hakakari, continuous learning has meant continuous curiosity – can things be done in some other way, or is it possible to apply something from one industry in another? She is still interested in various phenomena, particularly in the world of work – strategies are implemented through people and you can always learn new things in that respect.
“The development of management and the world of learning become a reality on my desk,” she says, “and my colleagues always have a new point of view to offer on matters. Learning is a journey that started from Seminaarinmäki and will hopefully continue into the future.”
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