Our alumni story - International Business Management

Jonna Suomela

"The studies helped strengthen a determined attitude as well as goal and result orientated mindset. The willingness to educate yourself, to network and challenge yourself is always beneficial."

Bachelor of Business Administration graduate Jonna applied for VAMK Master School to broaden her expertise

Business Administration graduate Jonna started her Master’s studies in the International Business Management program at Vaasa University of Applied Sciences. Continuing her studies at VAMK was a natural choice for Jonna because she was familiar with the school, its ways and some of the staff from her Bachelor’s studies as well as from work.

“The motivation to pursue further studies stemmed from my previous role as specialist. The desire and passion to expand my knowledge, network, and gain new perspectives were the main motivators for pursuing Master’s studies.”

Jonna Suomela, originally from Vaasa, has been active from a young age and has had the opportunity to work in various different positions while studying and further educating herself alongside her work. Her career started at the age of 13, and during her middle school and high school years, she had the chance to experience diverse summer jobs and work placements. During her high school years, Jonna also trained as a figure skating coach, coaching children and young people of different ages several times a week at the ice rink. While studying for her Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration at VAMK, Jonna worked in retail in the evenings and on weekends.

At VAMK, Jonna completed her Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration, specialising in Marketing, and chose Information Technology and Retail as elective subjects. During her studies, she also obtained the title of “Mestarimyyjä” (Master Salesperson) as part of her retail studies. At that time, she was considering a career path in retail, but other interesting opportunities emerged, leading her to leave the retail sector.

Just before graduating as a Bachelor in 2006, Jonna started working as an assistant at Wärtsilä. Subsequently, she held various roles within the organisation. She transitioned from an assistant to a Warranty Administrator role, where her tasks focused on reporting, development of operating systems, and data analysis. From 2011 onwards, Jonna worked in HR positions for almost eight years, with a focus on recruitment, resourcing, employer branding, both locally in Finland and globally from a developmental perspective.

Continuous learning and self-development

During her HR career, Jonna started her Master’s Degree studies at Vaasa University of Applied Sciences in the International Business Management program. Continuing her studies at VAMK was a natural choice because the school and many teachers were familiar from her Bachelor’s studies. Additionally, Jonna had collaborated with VAMK during her time in HR.

“Motivation to pursue further studies arose from my specialist role. The desire and passion to expand my expertise, network, and gain new perspectives were the main driving forces behind my decision to embark on Master’s Degree studies,” Jonna tells.

Combining studies, work, and family life went smoothly. In 2018, when her Master’s Degree studies were halfway through, Jonna took on a new role as an Operational Excellence Manager at Wärtsilä.

“The job involved interesting development projects in a global operating environment within the project management organisation, focusing on continuous improvement and development methods. I conducted my Master’s thesis on change and change management,” Jonna says. “Like others, also I have only 24 hours a day and seven days a week, but by planning what to do and when, and with the burning motivation to make things progress, I managed to integrate different aspects of life,” she recounts.

After completing her Master’s studies in 2019, new exciting job opportunities opened up for Jonna. First, she moved to a Senior Manager role, continuing to work on development projects in a global work environment. At the end of 2021, Jonna had a unique opportunity to start as the Head of Assembly Personnel. Her current job is a balanced mix of working with people, leadership, change management, developing functions and practices, and handling operational tasks.

“The studies helped strengthen a determined attitude as well as goal-oriented and result-oriented approach. Advancing in one’s career, horizontally or vertically, is the sum of several factors. Pursuing education, networking, and challenging oneself are always beneficial.”

After completing her Master’s Degree, Jonna continued on the path of personal development. She first chose basic studies in work and organisational psychology at the Open University. Following that, she started a specialist vocational qualification in leadership and business management. “I might be a perpetual student,” Jonna laughs.

What advice does Jonna have for those considering Master’s studies?

“Go for it! Investing in oneself (in education, personal development, and networking) is always an excellent investment! Master’s Degree studies can be completed quite flexibly, allowing you to focus on areas of personal interest. For example, I chose service design studies from Turku University of Applied Sciences as elective courses, and three of us from Vaasa completed them together virtually.”

Smoothly online

Jonna completed her Master’s degree almost entirely through self-study and online learning. Independent studying suited Jonna well, and she was able to complete her studies a year ahead of schedule.

“The flexibility came with distance and online studies. I could study in the evenings after the kids had gone to bed or when the grandparents helped with childcare on weekends.”

The downside of online and self-studies was the limited opportunity for networking and collaborating with fellow students. However, that was compensated by an actively used WhatsApp group, where students encouraged each other, shared successes, and asked for help.

“The on-campus days were the best when we could talk with our fellow students,” Jonna reminisces.

The studies progressed smoothly, and Jonna found the study units challenging enough.

“To my great delight, I received a scholarship for excellent academic performance. With the scholarship funds, I bought myself a sports watch to support the importance and joy of physical activity. I’ve accumulated a lot of kilometers,” Jonna rejoices.

The completion of studies did not mean saying goodbye to VAMK forever. In the autumn of 2023, Jonna will start working as a part-time lecturer at Vaasa University of Applied Sciences alongside her current job.

The story was published in August 2023.

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