Mayor of Helsinki
Born in Helsinki in 1954, Jussi knew early on that he wanted an MBA degree in order to join the family retail business (Alepa retail stores), launched by his grandfather, Edvard Pajunen. Jussi studied at the Helsinki School of Economics before going to work in the family business.
After just one year with Alepa, Jussi felt ready to do his MBA; but would it be a US business school or a European one? He chose INSEAD primarily because he wanted to study in Europe, but also because he “felt that INSEAD had both the US high quality standard of teaching and a diverse European point of view.”
Before starting at INSEAD, Jussi and Jaana were married and moved to live in Fontainebleau. “It was an excellent start to our marriage.”
Mr Pajunen’s fondest memory of INSEAD was the birth of his first daughter. He says “She is my real souvenir of Fontainebleau.”
Jussi also recalls INSEAD’s excellent professors, the intensity of working in a study group and the extra curricular activities, “I learned a lot, not only about the different topics we studied but also from the challenging atmosphere.”
Jussi left INSEAD, returned to the family business and became an active member of numerous Boards for different companies in Finland, Estonia and Latvia. He was appointed to the Finnish Olympic Central Council in 1991.
In the early 1990’s, Jussi’s interests expanded to include politics: he became a member of the Liberal Party/Reform party Liberals, and a member of the larger National Coalition party in 1996. He was a member of the Helsinki city council for eight years, and Chairman of the city board from 2003 – 2005, when he was elected as Lord Mayor of Helsinki. “Being a Mayor of a European capital is very special.”
Jussi’s ambitions for the future are very much centred around the success of the city of Helsinki. “The city has a historical opportunity to become a real player in the Baltic Sea Region and in Europe. We have excellent companies and are closer to the Asian markets than any other capital in Europe. My ambition is to be able to lead the city of Helsinki in such a way that it would be able to turn opportunities into reality.”
Despite his business and political achievements, Jussi is most proud of his “wonderful family.” This summer he celebrated his 30th wedding anniversary with his wife and five children.
“I feel that one of my key assets is the ability to combine business life with the public one. The business point of view comes straight from what I learned at INSEAD.”
Jussi is the Chairman of the INSEAD Finnish National Council.