Jukka Majanen had been a regular committee member of the Finnish Business Council in Singapore when in May he took over the highest position in the association. ScandAsia Magazine visited Jukka Majanen in his office at the INSEAD Asia Campus in the western part of Singapore city, where he works as Director, Sales and Business Development. We wanted to hear more about Jukka’s person and his future plans for the FBC.
– Tell us about yourself, your background and your education.
“I am from Finland, originally from Tampere and in terms of education I studied business there, until I in 1987 moved to the USA to see the country and learn English for a year or so. I ended up staying in the US for over three years and went to a grad school in Arizona, known as Thunderbird (American Graduate School of International Management).”
“After my return to Finland I worked for a Finnish pharmaceutical company Leiras as International Product Manager. It was this company, that in 1994 sent me on a three year contract to Singapore. As my partner Sharon is Singaporean, I decided to stay here.”
“I have had a couple of other jobs in the software business in between and now I have been with private business school INSEAD for eight years. I enjoy working in the academic environment even though I don’t actually teach.”
– How did you get the job as Chairman of the Finnish Business Council in Singapore?
“The committee chooses the chairman aming the elected people and back in May I was asked if I wanted to be Chairman. I think there is a certain sense of duty when you have been active for a longer time yourself like I have been. I was humbled and honoured that people placed their trust in me and I said yes. I wanted to give something back to the business community.”
“When I worked at the Finnish company in the nineties I was a regular member of the council, and I was a pretty active member joining the events, but I wasn’t in the Committee. I liked it back then, but then I was out of the FBC in some years working for other companies. Then I came back when INSEAD joined a few years ago and I started to get active again.”
– You have both your job here at INSEAD and now your new job as Chairman of FBC as well. How do you manage to combine the two things?
“The Chairman job is definitely an important job but it is not that overwhelming in terms of time commitment. From the way I see it, the Chairman of a volunteering organization is more a kind of a team leader than a typical boss.”
“We are a team who does the work. I may be the chairman but in the committee we are nine members all in all and many of them have been around for a long time. They are all very active so it is a shared work load. We have a committee with both men and women and representatives from both large and smaller companies, so I have a great team surrounding me and I am very confident about our work.”
– What does the Finnish Business Council and you do?
“I prefer to see FBC as a platform for interaction with both people within the FBC and others. We make a lot of opportunities for people to network with each other. One of our main kind of activity is events with different speakers. We try to organize an event every month and that is our key thing.”
– What is going to be different now you’re Chairman? What are your new ideas?
“First of all I think I need to give credit to my predecessors. I think they have done good work to keep the council growing through the tough years.”
“I am not trying to dramatically change FBC but I think it is always interesting to see how we can reinvigorate the association and look at what it is the members really want. We are here for the members, those who pay the dues so they want something in return of course.”
“But I can say that we have three top priorities. First of all we need to make sure that we have a business model which keeps us financially viable. We are living in tough economic times and we need to ensure our revenue streams (mainly the membership fees) and watch our costs.”
“Secondly it is very important to us that we meet the need and the expectations of all the members of the FBC, and we are able to deliver high quality events and other membership benefits.”
“Eventually we would like to consider joint activities with the other Nordic business associations. As long as it could make sense for both parties I am very interested in looking into that.”
“What we are trying to get started now is also more diversity in the kinds of events that we will set up. More company visits instead of having company leaders visit us. Learn more about interesting types of industries and see how they work. It’ll all be very exiting work.”
“Thirdly, we want to increase our membership base further which then provides better networking for all members and allows us also to do conduct more activities. So, the three points are all interlinked.”