Alum of the Year, Karri Koskelo from Lundia: “Completing a master’s degree had a big impact”


Karri Koskelo, who started as the CEO of the traditional furniture industry company Lundia in the autumn, is HAMK’s Alum of the Year. For Koskelo, it is important to create a psychologically safe atmosphere in the workplace.

I chose business as a field of study because… That was a pretty clear choice for me. Business and trading have always been in the “back of my mind”.

In terms of future jobs, the degree programme gave me… HAMK’s Bachelor of Business Administration degree programme gave me an overview of how companies operate, accounting, marketing, internationalisation and so on. I liked the practical nature of my studies. That is why I have ended up in a company that produces concrete products instead of, for example, the banking world.

I wanted to complete also a master’s degree because… When I had worked for six years at Lundia after graduation, I had a burning desire to complete a master’s degree. I did not apply for a school of business at a university for reasons such as being totally rubbish at maths. A Senior Lecturer at HAMK recommended I would consider the MBA degree programme taught in English, which proved to be a good solution also from a practical point of view. The fact that I am not an economist has not made any difference in terms of making progress at work.

I completed my thesis… On Lundia’s carbon footprint. It was a topical subject in the company, and I suggested that I could do the calculations as a project. It was easy enough to determine the carbon footprint of buildings and people, but it is difficult to calculate absolutely everything. It is therefore important to explain what has been left out of the calculations. I dislike it a bit when an entity claims to be completely carbon neutral. When you scratch the surface, you often find out that this is not the case.

In terms of sustainable development, our goal is… The goal is not to determine a date when Lundia will be carbon neutral, but to be better at different things every year. I worked for a year alongside my own work to ensure that we now have an environmental certificate. We are monitored by an external, independent body in terms of achieving the objectives.

I progressed from a salesperson to a CEO at Lundia… Step by step. After graduation, I applied for work and was offered a job at Lundia’s flagship store in Helsinki. Alongside working as a salesperson, I completed the tasks of an export coordinator, managing export orders and taking care of arrangements for a range of events. After four years, I asked the then CEO how I had been doing. I was brave enough to ask what I could offer to the company, or whether I should look for something else instead.

I was brave enough to ask what I could offer to the company, or whether I should look for something else instead.

At the same time, the resale manager moved elsewhere. I was asked to replace him. The company had just concluded a new, big resale agreement, and I started working with the B2B sales. In practice, we had to build 27 stores around Finland and train the sales staff for them. Apparently, it went so well that when the CEO left, the company owners did not start the recruitment process but asked me for the position instead. The fact that I had obtained a master’s degree in between also made a big impact. The company realised that I wanted to progress in my career.

My work as a CEO has started… in a situation where the last three years have been full of turmoil. We benefited from the years of COVID-19, as people invested in interior decoration. We grew tremendously. Then, the war created a completely different atmosphere. Material costs are rising dramatically whereas demand is not. Fortunately, we are a strong and well-liked brand, and so far we have survived.

As a director, I am… participatory and a good listener. The concept of psychological safety is very important to me. It means an atmosphere in which people can speak openly, and also challenge and criticise without the fear of being humiliated. Research indicates that teams work more efficiently in such an environment. I am also a millennial who neither wants nor accepts that the world of work should be as tough as it has been for the previous generations.

I could also have become… an architect or an interior architect, because all kinds of visual aspects interest me. Here is a funny detail: when I was studying at HAMK, I made a presentation on Lundia’s lamps which I liked. At that point, I wouldn’t have guessed that one day I would be the CEO of the company.

Jaana Siljamäki
communications specialist
Strategic communications

Karri Koskelo

Place and date of birth/place of residence: Forssa 1987/Helsinki.
Work: CEO, Lundia Oy.
Work history: previous jobs include working at a sawmill, at a window factory, and as a salesperson in a clothing store.
Education: Business Administration, Bachelor of Business Administration 2012, HAMK, Master of Business Administration and Entrepreneurship (MBA) 2020, HAMK.
Favourite piece of furniture: Lighting. At the moment, my favourite lamp is Artek’s black ‘beehive’.
(Special) quality: “I am a really tidy person. At home, everything is where it belongs. I also tidy up at work and water all our plants.”

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