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Our Alumnus Antti Kaunonen: University mean an anchorage area and an opportunity to innovate

Published on 28.9.2021
updated on 23.11.2021
Tampere University
Tekniikan tohtori, johtaja Antti Kaunonen
Antti Kaunonen, President of Kalmar Automation Solutions at Cargotec, is Tampere University’s Alumnus of the Year. Provost Jarmo Takala announced the nomination at the Opening Ceremony of the new academic year on 7 September. The Alumnus/Alumna of the Year is an honorary title and represents the expertise produced by the University. Alumni of the Year contribute to introducing the University’s impact and the important role of alumni to wider society.

“I was raised in Tampere where I went to school. After upper secondary school, Tampere University of Technology was a natural and obvious choice. In fact, most of the boys in my class went to study in Hervanta. My connection with the University has remained strong throughout my career,” says Antti Kaunonen at Kalmar's offices in Rusko, Tampere, near the Hervanta campus.

The University is a centre of excellence

The architecture of Kalmar’s offices is inspired by containers and container cranes. The structures are made of glass, which gleams in harmony with the rough containers. No colours have been spared either. From the top floor of the main building, there is a spectacular panoramic view of the test area of sea container cranes.

“We would hardly be here in Rusko without the University and the Hervanta campus. We collaborate closely on research projects and engage many students in various positions,” Kaunonen emphasises.

“For our company, the close ties with Tampere University mean an anchorage area and an opportunity to innovate and create new products. Above all, the University is a Centre of Excellence. Our operations are very international, but our technological expertise is concentrated on and growing here in Tampere,” Kaunonen says.

Kaunonen is familiar with the histories and strengths of the universities in Tampere.

“Multidisciplinarity, new combinations of fields of study, and collaboration are the strengths of the new Universities community. We need innovative cooperation between technology, health, and social research,” Kaunonen points out.

Finnish universities’ business collaboration has long roots

“In my career, I have lived abroad for about 15 years and continue to accumulate at least 100 days of travel each year even while living in Finland. In, for example, Germany, China, and North America, all of which I know well, cooperation between universities and businesses is not as developed and established as it is in here. In Finland, we know how to cooperate and have a long tradition of doing so. Here, businesses, universities and the funding system are an efficient trinity,” Kaunonen says.

“An open mind and a willingness to learn new things are key skills in working life. Finland has had to find its resources from the forests, the cold climate and us Finns. We are experts in energy efficiency, thanks to the cold climate, and have an advanced forest industry. People are our third resource, which requires big investments in education. Some say that Finland is a country of the overeducated, but I find our education is fine. Even if you are overqualified for a job, education provides a good basis for learning new things, applying what you have learned, and renewing yourself,” Kaunonen notes.

Kaunonen’s wife works as a professor. Their two adult children have partners and children. Kaunonen’s wife and daughter are also Tampere University’s alumni while his son has chosen a different career as an officer in the military.

“In my free time, my three grandchildren who are toddlers are the most important part of my life, and I spend much time with them. I also enjoy running, losing golf balls, fly fishing and reading. I have run some twenty marathons. Nowadays, I run shorter distances because of sciatica and relax by running while on business trips around the world,” he says.

Link to the news article: Alumnus of the Year Antti Kaunonen

Here you can read other alumni stories

Picture Riku Niemi
Text  Minna Puntila