Go Back

Marco Mäkinen

Born February 11, 1965, Helsinki

MA 1990, University of Helsinki
Executive MBA 1991, Helsinki School of Economics

Vice President 2013–, TBWA Helsinki
CEO 2012–13, TBWA Helsinki
Board member 2012–, Vallila Interior
Managing Director 2007–12, SEK & GREY
Director of Strategy, SEK
Chief Strategy Officer 2000–05, TBWA/PHS
CEO 1999–2000 Ego Taivas Media Lab
CEO 1997–99, AMG Helsinki
Customer manager 1999, Taivas

Bulkista brändiksi - käsikirja kasvuun ja kannattavuuteen (‘From bulk to brand – a handbook for growth and profitability’) Marco Mäkinen, Anja Kahri, Tuomas Kahri, Ossi Ahto. Docendo 2016.
Brändi kulmahuoneeseen! Marco Mäkinen, Anja Kahri, Tuomas Kahri. WSOYpro. Porvoo 2010.
Nokia saga: kertomus yrityksestä ja ihmisistä, jotka muuttivat senI (‘The Nokia saga: a story of the company and the people who changed it’). Gummerus. Jyväskylä, Helsinki 1995.

Written by Tiia Niemelä and Marco Mäkinen
Translated by Matthew Billington

The value of humanities in the business world

Marco Mäkinen has found his education in the humanities to be tremendously useful in his work. He feels the problem isn’t so much the content of education in the humanities, which provides students with excellent tools for business life, but rather that corporations don't understand the value of a humanities degree.

– Education as such is valued, but their notion of a useful education is much too narrow. Many companies hire the wrong kind of people, experts in a narrow specialisation, who burn out quickly in a business world that is chaotic and illogical and fails to follow rational laws. Thus, both the company and the employee suffer from recruiting the wrong people to the wrong jobs.

Nevertheless, in Mäkinen’s analysis Humanities education doesn’t come away entirely unblemished either. He criticises the researcher orientation of traditional humanities programmes, despite the fact that very few humanities students end up as full-time researchers.

– After graduating, I had to get further training to learn to speak the jargon of business in addition to the jargon of philosophy. Everything else I learned at university has been extremely relevant in business and in life in general.

Photo: Timo Mäkinen.

The fundamental problem is that humanities education and the business world do not see eye to eye. According to Mäkinen, at a deeper level the two are nevertheless very well suited; you can make excellent use of a humanities education in business, but humanities graduates must demonstrate the relevance of their skills themselves.

– Education and business talk of the same things but in different terms. So perhaps humanities programmes could pay more attention to how to market yourself, even outside academia.

For Mäkinen, the strongest advantage of an education in the humanities is the facility to understand people. He feels business is labouring under the misconception that people behave like machines. That’s why the typical corporate recruit, a narrowly specialised expert extruded from a strict technology/business programme, is in trouble when the everyday reality in business is “like the Greece of Nero.” Even in business, in the background are often the eternal great questions of life – hatred, envy, love – and humanities graduates usually have a good grounding in them from their education.

Mäkinen feels underappreciation of humanities education is a major social problem, since understanding people is becoming ever more important in business.

– Today, pretty much all they talk about in business is stories and how to influence people; that’s the very heart of the humanities.

Photo: Carita Päivinen.


Go Back