“Fourteen years ago, I made it my ambition and dream to bring the JA operation in Finland on par with the other Nordic countries. After many eventful years, I am happy and proud to say that we have achieved those goals. During the time of the coronavirus crisis, we were able to create an extensive regional network and complete a reorganization. The entire JA Finland crew is ready to serve schools throughout the country. I feel that this is a natural point for me to step aside from my role as the CEO, and continue supporting and encouraging JA in social media and at events.”
JA Finland has operated as an association in Finland since 2002. During Utriainen’s term as CEO, JA has grown from having one employee to an organization of approximately 30 employees in 10 regional offices throughout Finland. The entrepreneurship, worklife, and financial literacy education provided by JA has reached hundreds of thousands of children and youths ranging from pre-primary school to higher education.
“The best part of my work has been the thousands of encounters with children and youths, and seeing their excitement and the inspiration in their eyes. Many of those children and youths have been in contact later, thanking us for the Junior Achievement experience.”
– Virpi Utriainen
Despite the wistfulness, our paths will continue crossing”
In running the JA activities, Utriainen has taken on various roles from developing strategies and learning materials to training and organizing events. The raising of funds from partners and public funding channels has been an important responsibility. The education programs are free of charge for the schools. Utriainen calculates that through the years, she has raised over 15 million euros in funding.
“Over the years I have participated in hundreds of elevator pitches and negotiations, and numerous project and funding applications. Through my work, I have had the opportunity to meet and encounter thousands of people from the Finnish business community and education sector from Lapland to Hanko, while simultaneously building an extensive network globally as well. Our team has always comprised top people who are motivated and enthusiastic about their work. While there is a certain wistfulness in the air, I am pleased to know that our paths will continue to cross in the future”, Utriainen says.
“At this point of my career, it’s time to take stock of my experiences and consider the next challenge to take on professionally”, Utriainen muses.
“Virpi has played a key role in building the JA Finland of today”
Christina Dahlblom, the Chair of the JA Finland Board, sincerely thanks Virpi Utriainen for her years of passionate work.
“Junior Achievement Finland has grown to become a significant entrepreneurship education provider in Finland, and that is largely due to the work Virpi has done. Her passion and tireless work, together with the entire team, has been extremely valuable. JA is now very well placed to continue its development and growth. Our aim is to ensure that an increasing number of youths in Finland learn entrepreneurial attitudes and skills while still in school. Our personnel is exceptionally committed and competent, and ready to support schools, teachers, and students throughout Finland. While Virpi is handing over the baton, I am confident that she will remain a part of our ecosystem”, Dahlblom says.
The Board of JA has initiated the process of finding the new CEO.