Europe Region Blog
Haaga-Helia visit to IATA MAD.png
  • Covid-19
  • Academia
14 May 2020

Connecting present and future generations for a better aviation industry

‘Connecting people’. The famous slogan of Finnish company Nokia perfectly applies to aviation, as well as to the extremely fruitful collaboration between Haaga-Helia University of Applied Sciences in Finland and IATA.  This relationship - started in January 2017- has prospered and resulted in a wide-ranging partnership involving students, professors, and industry experts. It has resulted in:

  • The creation of an IATA authorized training center on the University premises (2018)
  • The yearly participation of IATA experts (2017 onwards) at the Future of Aviation Seminar, and a communications lecture (2020)
  • Haaga-Helia students visits of the IATA offices in Stockholm (2017, 2018), Geneva (2018) and Madrid (2017, 2019 [as seen on the main picture])
  • The active participation of students:
    • Support for running the annual Global Passenger Survey
    • Theses with IATA serving as commissioner experts:
      • Benefits of aviation for healthcare in Finland (finalized December 2019),
      • Public opinion towards aviation in the Nordic countries (ongoing)
      • The importance of skilled staff in the future growth of aviation industry (ongoing)

This collaboration was recently recognized by Haaga-Helia University of Applied Sciences, which gave IATA the ‘Aviation Commissioner of the Year’ award. For Maija Eklöf, Head of Campus, Director of Aviation Bachelor, Sales & Marketing, Bachelor of Business Administration at Haaga-Helia, “IATA has been actively engaged with aviation business studies on Porvoo Campus, helping aviation business students network with the industry. IATA has been appraised as a commissioner of several thesis projects, enabling our students to contribute to highly relevant research initiatives across the globe.”

“We are extremely proud of this fruitful cooperation with a great potential to expand both in scope and geography. A student’s thesis focusing on the importance of air cargo for healthcare was started months ago and represents an excellent example of how academic studies can identify and highlight vital topics and share key valuable insights from a neutral perspective”, said Catrin Mattson, IATA’s Area Manager, Nordic & Baltic.

To learn more about this initiative, and their vision for the future, we interviewed Teemu Kokko, President & CEO of Haaga-Helia University of Applied Sciences, and Anton Grove, IATA’s VP of People Performance & Development.

Teemu Kokko President CEO Haaga-Helia University of Applied Science   

Teemu Kokko, President & CEO, HHUAS

Anton Grove VP PPD IATA

Anton Grove, VP People Performance & Development, IATA

  • Teemu and Anton, thank you for taking the time to answer our questions in these extremely challenging times. To start off, can you tell us what benefits you see in academic and professional partnerships? And what are the key elements of success in this particular collaboration?

Teemu: This is a very important question! All our activities – as a university of applied sciences – are based on corporate cooperation. The mission of Haaga-Helia is quite a simple one: “Haaga-Helia opens doors to future careers”. Without keeping the doors open already during the study time we could not live according to our strategy.

Anton: In a fast-paced world, it is important for businesses to be able to rely on the latest advances in science and technology. Simultaneously, it is also vital to share with students and members of the academia the practical experience and hands-on knowledge on how that knowledge is being applied in a professional environment.

  • Teemu and Anton, what specific benefits do you consider universities of applied sciences offer to the industry?

Teemu: I think that we have a lot to learn from each other. Industries are quite understandably true professionals of their own businesses. The strengths of the Universities of Applied Sciences are based on a quite extensive dialogue with several companies, representing different fields. We can also provide a nice combination consisting of applied theory and practice. UAS are transformation champions by nature.

Anton: UAS offer an exceptional mixture of scientific knowledge and the ability to apply it in practice, and of course a fresh and innovative outlook on the burning questions in the industry. In addition, they represent a unique talent pool ready to join the highly qualified industry workforce.

  • Teemu and Anton, in what direction do you see our collaboration heading moving forward? Can it provide value during the Covid-19 crisis?

Teemu: More than ever, cooperation is needed during these difficult times. International collaboration is not disappearing anywhere - but we have to find solutions that protect our health and make cooperation practically possible. We need process-innovations, equipment-innovations and maybe in the long run also business-logics innovations. All of that is easier together.

Anton: We are already seeing the value of our fruitful collaboration! Two student theses come straight to mind. The Benefits of aviation for healthcare could not be more fitting to the current Covid-19 crisis where air cargo is offering crucial solutions to societies and governments alike. The findings and analysis can greatly contribute to our advocacy efforts with governments whose support is needed to ensure aviation can deliver these essential benefits. Likewise, the ongoing thesis on Public opinion towards aviation in the Nordic countries can help us better grasp the present and future passenger needs in order to shape the industry of tomorrow.

  • Anton, what do you think the aviation industry will need in terms of skills and knowledge once the crisis passes?

Anton: At this point in time, it is hard to say what the industry will look like when we come out of the crisis. We will most probably have to reinvent ourselves to reach some sort of ‘normality’ or the new reality. Today’s young generations represent the future air transport staff and users, and will be the ones leading us into and in the future. Only time will tell what hard skills are needed, but tomorrow’s professionals will likely need to be creative, flexible, adaptable, and integrate the need for diversity, environmental sustainability and technology in their DNA.

  • Teemu, despite the dire situation, the environment remains a priority for the air transport industry. How can academia contribute to building a greener aviation industry?

Teemu: Our students seem to have internalized the idea of environmental thinking. One could say that they are looking at the world by wearing green eyeglasses. Therefore, involving students in process planning, in decision making and in innovation is a very clever action.

  • Teemu and Anton, with the crisis deeply impacting the air transport industry, what advice and encouragement would you give present and potential future aviation students?

Teemu: We will overcome these challenges. In the long run nothing beats true knowledge, true professionalism and open-minded innovation. Combining studying, working and networking globally is something that I, as a university President and CEO, love to see. At Haaga-Helia we do our uttermost to guarantee that our students can be active in all these three areas. Aviation is a fantastic choice for any student!

Anton: The current crisis has impacted the industry in unprecedented ways. However, air transport will remain a critical part of our society and economy, connecting people and cultures, enabling trade and creating millions of jobs worldwide. When we start coming out of the crisis, the industry will need all the talent it can get to spearhead our ambition to grow stronger, more sustainable and ready for any future challenges. Aviation professionals are passionate about the industry they represent -the business of freedom-, so be motivated, ambitious, creative, as well as respectful. And of course, enjoy while you can the long summer break ahead! As a future aviation professional, you will see this is traditionally a high-season with lots of work!


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