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Aki Hyryläinen

Aki-Mikael Hyryläinen
Born April 17, 1968, Helsinki

Master of Arts (Finnish and Nordic History), University of Helsinki

Vice President, Mercuri Urval, 2012-
Senior Consultant, Mercuri Urval, 2006–2012

Professional Footballer, HJK (FIN), Eendracht Aalst (BEL), FC Köbenhavn (DK) and FC Jokerit (FIN), 1988–2001

Football Coach: Kirkkonummen Salamat FCK, 2002–2004 (First team), HJK A-cubs, 2005–2007, HJK league team, autumn 2007. Helsingin poikien piirijoukkue (‘Helsinki boys’ area team’), 2006–2007 and 2011.

Board Member, HJK Ry, 2001-, Vice-chair, 2003–2013
Board Member, HJK Oy, 2009-
Executive Board Member, Santahamina Lower Secondary School, 2013-

Special Achievements
Finnish Champions, HJK, 1990 and 1992
Finnish Cup Winner, HJK, 1993 and 1996, and FC Jokerit, 1999
League Cup Champions, HJK, 1994 and 1996
Finnish Championships, Silver Medal, FC Jokerit, 2000
Finnish Championships, Bronze Medal, HJK, 1993, 1994 and 1995
Danish Cup Winner, FC Köbenhavn, 1997
Twenty-five caps for the Finnish national football team, 1992–1997
Helsinki Football Club: Hall of Fame players’ choice, 2005
Coach: twice A-cubs Finnish Championships (2005 and 2006) and one silver, HJK, 2007
Youth Coach of the Year, Suomen Jalkapallovalmentajat ry, 2006
Youth Coach of the Year, Suomen Palloliitto, Helsinki district, 2006

Written by Riitta-Ilona Hurmerinta
Translated by John Calton

Caring for employees

Coincidence led Aki Hyryläinen to work for Mercuri Urval. He applied for a job in an investment and financial management company and the recruitment was handled by Mercuri Urval.

– In the interview I was surprised to be greeted by a recruitment consultant who was a former ice hockey coach. During the interview he told me about his own work at Mercuri Urval and explained what kind of work they did as consultants. And after ten diverse and eventful years, I can easily say that it was not a mistake to say ‘yes’ to his proposal.

Mercuri Urval has been a major international business and institutional consulting firm for more than 45 years. Their consultants have extensive experience in strategic recruitment and selection practices, competence and leadership assessments as well as talent management and development solutions for organisations, businesses and executives. In Finland, Mercuri Urval conducts about 560 demanding recruitment and selection assignments every year, including more than 3,000 individual assessments.  On an annual basis, the company performs assessments of more than 50,000 professionals around the world.

In consultancy work, at least for Mercuri Urval, it is all about finding long-term co-operative solutions with the various clients. The core of the work is being in interaction with people – influencing and guiding them. Being a consultant is a service profession, where all solutions are tailored according to individual clients’ different needs.  

Consulting work is almost like being in a university. Every day brings the opportunity to learn new things from industry clients and meetings with applicants. The work is based on an understanding of the client’s current state, strategy and future goals. In this way, Mercuri Urval’s consultants can find the right people for the right places.  

People from many different educational backgrounds work in Mercuri Urval. There are psychologists, teachers, economists, military officers, engineers, political scientists, and at least one historian.

– This is the work of people who want to serve both our corporate clients and our individual jobseekers. A consultant needs to understand large complexes, quickly sketch cause-effect relations and guide people to the right places. The job requires a lot of exploring and familiarising oneself with different business, as well as the ability and desire to learn new things.

Customer projects define what kind of work each individual consultant does at a given time. The work is done both individually and in a team. For the last four years, Hyryläinen has worked as a consultant as well as a manager.

– It is difficult to delegate, but it is something I have been forced to learn. I work as a consultant, but more importantly also as a supporting manager for my team and we also work a lot together with various client projects. It is rewarding to work with people who are brighter than you.

In his experience, Hyryläinen has found that among the many reasons people choose to change jobs, around 90 per cent are down to poor leadership. Managing specialists requires that Hyryläinen recognises each employee’s individuality. People need clear objectives and a defined frame of responsibility within which they can work independently. A manager also has to have the time to be available and create the right atmosphere for the team.

– The manager needs to understand how far or close to be to each employee. At the core of a consultant’s work is the fact that there is a lot of responsibility but also a lot of freedom. As a manager, I need to ensure that each employee receives the necessary attention and support.

Watching his employees succeed brings a smile to Aki Hyryläinens lips.​
Watching his employees succeed brings a smile to Aki Hyryläinens lips.​

A consultant must be able to prioritise their working life and their free time. This is not easy because in most cases the consultant must be available to their client 24/7 and their salary depends on their results. Mercuri Urval helps their employees to deal with work-related stress and recovery.

– As a manager, I have learned that employees are our greatest asset. We have no means of production or machinery. We really have to take care of our employees so that they can manage to do the work and are motivated to develop themselves. Our clients pay us for the added value that we bring. In some ways this job is just as black and white as a football players – you are only as good as your last game and the past does not matter.

Hyryläinen’s style of management comes from his background in sports. Decades of experience as a competitive sportsman has taught him how to work with different personalities and with groups. His coaching years have developed his abilities to handle people and be attentive to them.

– Just like a sports coach, I smile a happy smile when I see the members of my team succeed. It’s absolutely fabulous that my employees are better than me in many respects. It may sound a bit strange, but I enjoy situations where I can influence things behind the scenes and make myself effectively redundant.


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