Ville Jokela, new campus developer

Aalto University Campus and Real Estate's new managing director Ville Jokela knows Otaniemi since all the way from his childhood.
Image: Kalle Kataila / Aalto University

'Though everything started with construction, nowadays the real estate development side is more my thing', says Ville Jokela, Managing Director at Aalto University Real Estate (Aalto CRE).

Jokela took up his duties as managing director on 2.1.2020. He is familiar with Otaniemi since the 1980s, when he visited his schoolmates living on campus, and played sports in Otahalli with Espoon Tapiot. Home was not far away either, as Jokela's childhood home is located near Tapiola in Tontunmäki, Espoo.

'My father was an architect and my brother was studying architecture at the time, so I said that I wouldn't become the third architect in the same family. I've always been a numbers guy, so I began to study mathematics and physics at University of Helsinki, but a career teacher or a researcher didn't seem interesting enough. Otaniemi, however, intrigued me more', Jokela continues.

Grown in Otaniemi

Eventually, he was drawn to Otaniemi. Jokela had spent his life hearing stories of the construction industry, so in 1993 he applied for and was admitted to Helsinki University of Technology to study civil engineering, construction management and real estate management.

'It felt it was mine. Otaniemi was what I wanted and which would suit a person interested in numbers, while being a technically-minded, but also a creative person. In the end my background determined exactly what I wanted. And I haven't regretted it.'

Jokela was active at the guild and professional club activities. He has the best memories of short and long journeys travelling in Finland, during which he got to know people and build his social networks. For the young student, the trips offered a suitable balance between lectures, that focused on providing new information. The joint events between guilds, professional clubs and meeting with businesses also stayed in Jokela's mind as they offered new perspectives, new networks and concrete information on working life.

The changing world is visible on campus

The Otaniemi campus has developed a lot since Jokela's studied there. The area has grown into a lively neighbourhood with diverse services. Previously, there was not even a decent grocery store available.

Today, Otaniemi is accessible also via metro, which Jokela takes daily for his commute to work. 

'Otaniemi, Keilaniemi and Tapiola will form one blend of boundaries that will enhance the campus's attractiveness and the community feel. The campus is much more international today - the potential has been discovered, no longer just being in Otaniemi or Finland, but being part of the global world.'

In addition to the campus development, Jokela has also noticed other changes. Since the founding of Aalto University, Otaniemi has developed into an enormous, multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary campus, where collaboration between students, researchers and companies generates new innovations.

'There are things tought in Aalto that did not exist before. Cooperation in various fields has increased competitiveness competence. Nowadays, it is possible to consider the entire product process from materials, to design, design, finance, marketing, sales and ultimately to implementation.'

With new eyes on a developing area

For a moment, Jokela can see at the campus with new eyes. His goal is to take advantage of this and look at campus solutions to see how to make the campus more attractive and functional for its users. Could some other implementation work better or are things really good, but would need some fine tuning?

The new managing director also wants to highlight his knowledgeable and top-notch team. Campus users do not always see how much work is done in the background. And when things work, Aalto CRE's work is usually not visible to users.

'It seems that we're mostly contacted when something is not working, but I would like to connect even when things are working. No-one will be harmed with praises. Aalto CRE creates an opportunity for the entire campus community to function well, and I want to give my team the opportunity to work as well as possible, help solve problems and be available to them at all times. The best part of my job is when my team succeeds.'

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