Juho’s year as a member of the KY Board

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I have no idea how I even got the idea that Academic Affairs could be a role for me. I had zero experience in advocacy work or working with the school personnel, and it was painfully difficult trying to figure out what the two advocacy people in the board were even doing. I have no idea why I still told Henrik that he should specifically pick me to be the next kopo. Sometimes you just have to trust a feeling and I couldn’t be any happier with the result.

The advocacy sector of the board is a strange combination of being a perfectionist and not being able to reach any of your goals by yourself. This may not be a job for a person who wants to see concrete results of his work quickly, as practically every improvement you are promoting will have to go through the school’s governing bodies. While the cooperation between KY and the School of Business works really well, some good ideas simply won’t advance past a certain point and there might be nothing you can do about it. This may be rather frustrating sometimes.

But motivating yourself will not become a problem as the topics you will work with are massive and affect every single student in the school or sometimes in the whole university. This year I’ve been e.g. planning the new Otaniemi building for the School of Business, discussing the models for tuition fees and student intake as well as defending students’ right in the new exam regulations. Sometimes it only takes a single comment to make things happen, whereas sometimes we’ve been telling every single contact person how something isn’t working and things should be changed. The most important thing in academic advocacy is the courage to open your mouth and speak.

In particular, I would like to highlight how much your argumentative skills will improve during the year. On one hand, the board constantly discusses about the important decisions and the direction of KY; on the other hand, as the Academic Affairs representative I’ve been trying to out-argument deans, vice-principals and members of the university board in topics that actually matter on a weekly basis. I’ve seen that even the smartest professors are only people and that student perspective can has a huge impact if it’s presented in a right way. After this year, I won’t shy to challenge anyone in a debate when the topic is something I have expertise in.

Academic Affairs is difficult to explain but surprisingly easy to master. The same thing can be said about being a part of the board in general. So, even if you feel hesitant or think that you don’t have enough knowledge or experience about certain things, give the idea of applying for the board a chance and listen to your feelings. I got the feeling that KY Board could be a job for me, and it has been hands down the most fun that I’ve ever had.

Carpe diem.

Juho Paavola

Member of the Board, Academic Affairs