Aalto yliopisto Mikkeli
Ladies and gentlemen
Thank you for inviting me to take part in the opening ceremony of the new academic year – it is an honour and a privilege. The Aalto University School of Business is a globally acknowledged player and the largest and a leading business school in Finland. The Mikkeli Campus is a desired place for business studies in Finland. Its reputation and quality of education are exceptional. So you really can be proud of yourselves and the possibility to study here.
I would especially like to welcome all of you new students to the City of Mikkeli. Our city is celebrating this year its 175th anniversary. It has played an important role in Finland’s history, especially during the Second World War. The headquarters of the Finnish Army were located in Mikkeli and Commander-in-Chief Marshall Mannerheim lived here during the war.
Mikkeli is a middle sized Finnish city, where living, studying and working is easy. Numerous events as well as opportunities to have fun make it an enjoyably city to live in. The Lake Saimaa is unique in the world and beautiful all year round. Wild food, local and organic food is real South Savonian food and easily found in our forests, market places and restaurants.
The city is also conveniently located near the Russian border and the city of St Petersburg, close to the capital city of Helsinki and not too far from northern parts of Finland.
The people of Mikkeli are easy-going and it’s rather simple to find friends here. I hope that Mikkeli and the whole province of South Savo find a special place in your hearts and minds, and that you are able to build solid foundations for your future careers in our city.
The contacts and cooperation between you and the businesses in the region and the City of Mikkeli are important and beneficial for everyone. It is important for you to be proactive towards the businesses, but it’s also important for us and the businesses to be receptive - we need your expertise and your new, fresh ideas on how to develop businesses and create new possibilities for growth.
In fact, I propose the establishment of a think-tank that brings together students from various disciplines to share ideas on how to create new employment and growth opportunities in the region.
The study of international business is particularly important at times of economic slowdown. All of Europe is still being shaken by a financial crisis that has resulted in slower or even negative growth and worrying levels of unemployment, especially among youth.
The European Union is constantly acting to find solutions to current challenges. And Finland is a constructive and a visionary member of the Union.
Finland as a small, export driven economy is dependent on Europe and the global economy. That is why Finland needs to work towards a stronger and a more integrated Europe, but at the same time, a more sensible Europe. Measures to increase competitiveness are the key to success in Europe and in Finland. The austerity measures have been quite succesful and they need to be continued.
Regulation is necessary, but over-regulation can also be counterproductive and inhibit competitiveness. We need to reconsider our laws, our regulations and our norms, and be willing to get rid of unnecessary codification. This needs to be done both at the Union level and at the national level as well.
Instead of regulating every aspect society and detail of life, we need to give people more responsibility over their lives. Instead of restricting creativity and innovation, we need to foster these by empowering people.
It is not necessary to regulate everything. Instead, we should trust our citizens and allow more freedom and possibilities for them. A truly competitive nation values the freedom of its inhabitants, the work they do and the striving businesses it harbours.
We need more employment opportunities. Work is the answer to the challenges we are faced with. We also need to lower barriers on employment. Especially for young people it’s very important to gain work experience soon after they have finished studies. At all times, employment has to be more attractive than staying at home on social welfare. The system should encourage people to seek and accept work.
Worst times of financial crisis are hopefully now behind us, but plenty of work remains to be done. Public finances have to be set on a secure basis. Revenues and expenditures have to be balanced and structural changes, even the difficult ones, have to be carried out.
This is the responsibility of us decision-makers. We cannot make future generations pay for our debt or our inability to act responsibly. A healthy economy is a safeguard of well-being in the future as well.
In the future the world needs leaders, decision makers and employees who are innovative, flexible, co-operative, and tolerant of and open to different cultures. I wish you all the best for your studies and that you make the most of your studying years and develop skills that you need in the future.
I also hope you enjoy Mikkeli and South Savo. Welcome!