Becoming a modern marketer

New Year's resolution: Participate in projects where you can truly challenge yourself and learn from getting out of your comfort zone.

Aino Aho, 25.01.2018

New Year, new resolutions, new possibilities. January is a fantastic month for planning new ideas and developing one’s visions and mindsets. Amongst many other things, this is also a great moment to start with new projects and embark on new ways of performing work.

In my case, this will not be a challenge – I’m already being encouraged to reflect on my routines because I am fortunate enough to be participating in Aalto EE’s Next Gen Marketing Professionals program, together with Valio, Paulig, Kantar TNS, and Bob the Robot. Exciting, right?

What is this Next Gen Marketing Professionals program about?

For decades, Finland has been identified as an engineering-lead country for innovations. Many great ideas have been born up here in the North, but potential is lost without proper knowledge of the “how to” side of selling our products and services. The marketing field has evolved, but Finland is still lagging behind other lead markets (like our much loved-hated western neighbor!).

As the former U.S. Ambassador to Finland Bruce Oreck observed, we Finns don’t know how to brand ourselves. Are we even too modest to do so? Marketing experts see that Finns are highly skilled and competent but are not well enough trained in storytelling, branding and design thinking.

Objective is to enhance the competitiveness of Finnish marketing knowledge."

The Next Gen Marketing Professionals program wants to get involved in changing the situation. The program’s objective is to enhance the competitiveness of Finnish marketing knowledge. It is designed to give hands-on experience and learning opportunities to future marketing leaders from a wide range of angles. As Next Gen Marketing Professionals, we get to work on real-life cases both in a Finnish FMCG company and in a media, marketing and market research agency, where we get to learn by cooperating with extremely skilled colleagues. In addition, we get to grow our insights using the top education and mentoring from Aalto EE.

So far during our training days, we have discussed such topics as self-leadership, agile marketing and brand design, topics that we only learn the principles of in Business School! The training aims to support our learning curve by working with top Finnish brands and focuses on teaching practice rather than theory.

Why did I apply for the program?

My personal story as a Finn is maybe not the most common one. Friends call me an “unusual Finn” (although I’m not convinced there is a type) because I’ve lived almost half of my life abroad in Belgium, Peru and South Africa. In addition to having learnt different languages and adapted to highly different cultures and peculiarities, my international experience has grown me both as a person and professionally.

I don’t fear to tackle new objectives and I constantly seek new challenges – whether at work or when planning my next holiday destinations! New environments get me excited and I love enlarging my worldview through meeting inspiring people. This is also why I admire authentic brands that truly understand their consumers and are successfully able to connect with them.

Almost overwhelming investment of time and effort provided to us participants."

What particularly attracted me to the Next Gen Marketing Professionals program is the almost overwhelming investment of time and effort provided to us participants. I see that people at my current employer Valio aim to teach me a lot, and I am encouraged to participate in discussions and question sessions and suggest novel methods of doing things.

Having formerly worked in sales and promoting exports of Finnish products abroad, I am excited to enlarge my knowledge now by working in marketing with an international scope, and participating in creating value and enlarging the footprint of amazing brands. I am about to graduate in spring 2018, and I couldn’t have chosen a better moment to participate in Aalto EE’s program!

What have I learnt so far?

All of us probably know it by now. Digitalization, urbanization and the rise of individual empowerment are just some of the major changes that challenge our everyday life. These major trends also challenge the daily life of a marketer. We live in a complex and quickly evolving environment where we don’t have sets of rules that we can follow faithfully, and companies must innovate in order not to die. Not an easy place to work, right?

We live in a complex and quickly evolving environment and companies must innovate in order not to die."

During the training program, my key responsibilities have been in implementing brand marketing guidelines in practice, assisting in Valio’s export marketing activities and participating in brand performance projects at Valio and later at Kantar TNS. The past weeks have been full of onboarding meetings at Valio and I have had the privilege to meet experts from the marketing and product group team with fascinating insights and experience.

In the environment of constant globally shaking trends, it becomes gradually more important to understand the everyday of consumers in order to create content that gives meaning to their everyday life. We must remember that whether the marketer is officially in charge of creating, designing or managing the brand, they are most of all responsible for the customer experience.

Learning is an ongoing process that never ends and I get reminded of this every day at the office. "

Learning is an ongoing process that never ends and I get reminded of this every day at the office. It has been extremely rewarding to work with the greatest minds and see myself evolve and grow while being respected for my own fresh thoughts. Being given responsibility for tasks is highly motivating, while getting to know the industry of Finnish FMCG and the marketing field as a whole.

And about those New Year’s resolutions? I dare you to do one thing in 2018 – do as I am doing and participate in projects where you can truly challenge yourself and learn from getting out of your comfort zone!

Aino Aho's mission for the year 2018 as a Next Gen Marketing Professional? To dare to be more creative and try not to do, but to be agile.

You might also enjoy reading the blog by Pauliina Määttä (in Finnish) who participated the previous program.

Currently reading: Aalto Leaders' Insight: Becoming a modern marketer

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