Kuntarahoitus: Alumni career story, Head of Funding Antti Kontio
Who: Antti Kontio, 35 years
Education: Aalto School of Business, MSc, 2003-2008, majoring in finance
Career in MuniFin: From the year 2008
Current role: Head of Funding
How you ended up studying at Aalto School of Business?
I have always been interested in numbers and while my high school friends went to study in Helsinki University of Technology, Aalto School of Business attracted me more. Afterwards I can definitely say that business studies are comprehensive and with the degree one can achieve a lot career wise.
How you ended up working in MuniFin?
I participated in Aalto’s work life affairs in 2007 where MuniFin was holding a stand. MuniFin’s representatives introduced the firm and arranged a lottery with a prize of a sparkling wine bottle. Unfortunately, I did not win in the lottery but that was not that big of a disappointment since later a person, who still works at the MuniFin as well, contacted me about an open trainee position. I, of course applied for the position and this is how my MuniFin career started.
Tell us your MuniFin career story?
My MuniFin career story has been very interesting. I started working as a trainee, just before the financial crisis in 2008 and nowadays I am leading the funding department as a Head of Funding. During my first year in MuniFin as a trainee I was able to work in several departments all over the organisation. I got to know with functions such as lending, funding, treasury, back office and risk management. After my first MuniFin year there opened a position in the funding department and I found it as an interesting opportunity with international aspects.
First, I worked in as an analyst, later as a manager and nowadays in my current role. During the past few years, I also led the corporate responsibility of MuniFin. Responsibility matters I have found very interesting and I am very proud that I have had opportunities to develop MuniFin’s actions regarding these topics. MuniFin was the first in Finland to issue a green bond in 2016, which is earmarked to finance environmentally friendly projects in all over the Finland, such as sustainable buildings, water and wastewater management and sustainable public transportation. I am very happy that I had an opportunity to lead this project. This year we also launched a new product called social bonds with a similar idea like in green bonds. However, social bonds are earmarked for projects that especially increase the welfare of individuals and vitality of the areas. Once again, MuniFin is doing something totally new in Finland.
MuniFin gains funding totally from international capital markets. Typically, my work consists of office days with trading and other funding tasks, following markets and discussing with investors. Sometimes we travel around the world to meet our international investors, existing and potential new ones. The busy years of business travelling are now in the past since the interest in video conferences has been growing. That is a positive thing.
What has surprised you about your employer MuniFin?
Now I have a 12 year long MuniFin career and I feel that one of the reasons why I have enjoyed my time in MuniFin is the fact that our employer trusts to employees and gives us possibilities – a space to develop, share and execute ideas and gain responsibilities. In my opinion, these are not self-evident factors in typical financial sector employers.
How was MuniFin then when you started and now?
The MuniFin where I started was smaller and the operations and functions were different. The number of employees has increased massively – from 40 persons to over 160 persons during these years. What comes to funding, it has been accented by the regulation as have many other functions in MuniFin, and changed the operations. Regulations has increased the internal workloads, reporting responsibilities and risk management because after the financial crisis more attention is paid to banks liquidity and solvency. It is very interesting to see how the current global situation shapes financial markets, economy, as well as MuniFin and other institutions.
A fun fact about your work?
I would say that bond markets are rather boring actually comparing to other instruments. However, funding overall is a really interesting, versatile and challenging job, and as we know, situations in the markets can change rapidly.
What is the most important knowledge or study you have gained from the university that you apply in your work?
I would say that ability to adapt to change was an important capability during my university years. While work life is in a constant change and employees face increasing demands, a positive attitude towards change is a highly valuable characteristic. In addition, one cannot emphasise enough the skills of cooperation and teamwork not only during the studies but also in a work life.
What piece of an advice would you give to yourself in past while you were still studying?
Perhaps to enjoy time in the university more. I graduated in four years since I was eager to start my career. Now when looking back I appreciate the studying time in a completely new perspective.
Greetings for Aalto students?
If I could go back, I would have included some environmental studies to my degree. I reckon that all should understand the risks and opportunities relating to environmental, social and overall responsibility matters better. The topic of responsibility has boomed in businesses agendas and I would definitely say that these skills and knowledge are highly valuable assets in work life now and in the future.
And go to student exchange abroad! It works wonders for your foreign language skills and for your mind.