EBS Helsinki Alumna Paula Kuusipalo-Määttä: “EBS changed my life and made me think differently”

Paula Kuusipalo-Määttä
Paula Kuusipalo-Määttä. Photo credit: Kimmo Karinen, Huvila Brand & Design
2021 marks the 10th date of establishing Estonian Business School’s Helsinki campus. We will introduce you EBS Helsinki Alumni in the next few months; April is dedicated to the graduates of 2014. Let’s get to know their stories and how EBS and its community has changed their lives.

Name: Paula Kuusipalo-Määttä

Graduation Year: 2014

Study Programme: International Business Administration BA, Marketing and Public Relations

Workplace: Entrepreneur


What did make you choose to study at EBS Helsinki? Where did you hear about the study possibilities?

I was studying in Helsinki Kauppakorkeakoulu for a couple of years in the open university side. But I really missed a group and people with whom to study with. That was the main reason. Secondly, I wanted to have more discipline for my efforts – I thought that kind of cooperation and community would be helpful.

I heard it with my husband Ossi when we were driving in a car and listening to the radio, and EBS had a commercial there. Then we decided to contact you, and so it went. We met with Ossi in school in the mid-’80s and had nostalgic memories of studying together as well. We knew that we need to refresh our education and knowledge. We were doing such a great job, and we had a good career, but it kind of stopped because of our lower education. So that was the main reason for starting to study for a university degree.   


How has studying in EBS changed your life?

EBS changed so many-many things - it is actually very difficult to say precisely. It really has changed me.   For example, how I think about things, how curious I am to get more knowledge, put ideas on paper, discuss with people, and so on.


An excellent thing that comes with all those great things is the English language skills, which has really changed my life. Because I can now learn new things in English, communicate with people abroad, connect and network. When I was working in Finnish railways, it was easier to communicate with foreign guests and other railway companies abroad. When I started as a consultant and coach, I was not limited in Finland because my skills and knowledge are valid abroad when I can communicate in fluent English.


You worked during your studies; how did you manage to combine work and studies?

Yes, I did work 100 percent full-time. The three-and-a-half years was a really tough time. Somehow, we managed to cut everything else but necessities. It means that I was forced to prioritise family, work and studies only and cut off everything possible to cut. It was difficult to think that I really now again have time to do this and that. We had to have a very strict timetable and schedule. I remember when once I finished some homework on Saturday evening, and when I was trying to upload my homework to the study system, I did fell to sleep three times until I finally managed to upload it. Maybe that tells you how tired I was.


You already had an excellent job? Did you get promoted after graduation, or did the study time positively change your work or career?

I worked as an innovation manager all that time, with no promotion. But what happened was that I had more courage to start growing my own network outside of my workplace and company. For example, I was part of two research projects at Lappeenranta LUT University and participated in a research project at the University of Chester in the UK. In these projects, I learned a lot and got connected with interesting people. That created the basis when I turned to be an entrepreneur and started my own company. My goal while studying at EBS was to be an entrepreneur. EBS gave me an understanding of what it means to be one, what to expect, and the entrepreneurial mindset. That was a powerful learning experience at EBS.


Please talk about your current work-life as an entrepreneur.

I have owned my own company since November 2019, and last December, I hired another employee. It is consulting and coaching company. We have many topics we deal with. For example, we have one long-term employer branding project currently going on. I  had a two-year-long project in service design. Then I do many HR projects – how to develop leadership, and how to develop executive group ability to work more efficiently, how to have better cooperation and communication. I have also done some projects about innovation culture, creating innovation process and climate, preparing organizational culture and leadership that supports innovation, and managing those things. All these are lengthy processes for companies. Luckily, the coaching methods that I use are very efficient remotely, and so far, we have succeeded very well also during the recent pandemic year.


What is your future dream? How do you see your future career and your contribution to society?

My dream and vision are sustainability – how to do consultation and coaching in a sustainable way. Sustainability consultation is what I offer to my customers, but we also want to find ways for my company to be sustainable. While putting together our company strategy, we put a lot of effort to describe this. My company promises to give customers through consulting and coaching solid and long-lasting value. We also want to do volunteer work to drive a better future. And we do want to work with companies who have the same values as we do.


Tell us about your student life in EBS Helsinki - were you active also in HEBS (EBS Helsinki Student Organization)? How active is the EBS alumni network, and how much benefit do you get from it for your career?

I was not one of the organisers, but when there were some parties I participated. We, with my husband, we’re a bit older than the others, but we made a lot of good friends and follow each other’s lives now in social media and LinkedIn. We have also met in business-oriented meetings. When I have some work-related topics, I can always contact my schoolmates.


What would be your alumni career advice?

Studying is very important, valuable, and funny. It takes time, you are very busy and tired, but it gives you back so much. You cannot even imagine what it does to you; it is a total change. It changes your thinking and your life.


During this month, you will get to know more EBS Helsinki Alumni that graduated in 2014. In May, we will meet Alumni from the year 2015. It will be a great journey to look forward to and mark our anniversary year!