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Matti Hirvola

Matti Johannes Hirvola
Born December 17, 1974, Pori

MA 2004 (General History), University of Helsinki

Project leader (Public relations and communications expert) at SAK, 2015–
Special advisor to Minister of Finance Antti Rinne, secretary of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) ministers’ group, 2014–2015
Senior advisor and partner at Miltton Networks, 2013–14
Special advisor to Minister of Finance Jutta Urpilainen, 2011–13
Head of Communications for SDP, 2006–11
Training and organisation secretary at SDP, 2006
General secretary of the Advisory Council for Youth Affairs at the Ministry of Education, 2004–05
Information officer for the Socialdemocratic Youth in Finland, 2002–04
Board member of the National Union of University Students in Finland (SYL), 2001
Board member of Student Union of the University of Helsinki (HYY), 2000

Photo: Matti Hirvola
Written by Tero Juutilainen
Translated by Joe McVeigh

Amidst the Euro Crisis

Matti Hirvola already dabbled in politics at university. Like many others, this happened through student movements. The years he spent at the Student Union of the University of Helsinki were good practice for national politics.

– A typical career in politics starts with student politics.

Hirvola joined the Social Democratic Party of Finland at the age of 27, after his time in university politics.

– I would not necessarily have even been mature enough to commit to any one party when I was younger! After all, I have never had any particular desire to become a politician myself. I have always seen myself as someone who works behind the scenes and gets things done.

Hirvola ended up in communications through working as an information officer for the Social Democratic Youth and later for the SDP itself. Around the same time he finished his studies and qualified to work as a teacher.

– I was a publicist for the youth party for a couple years, during which time I finished my degree. For a year I held a locum post on the Advisory Council for Youth Affairs at the Ministry of Education. Ultimately I completed teacher training and ended up in the SDP as the officer responsible for educational matters and contacts with civic organisations. This is how I was chosen as Head of Communications for the party.

The parliamentary election of 2011 and the resulting government negotiations meant new challenges for Hirvola, who became the special advisor to the newly elected Minister of Finance, Jutta Urpilainen.

– Those were truly exciting times. The critical phase of the Euro Crisis was 2011-2012, when the stability of the entire Eurozone was threatened. In hindsight it can be said that a touch of humanity and solidarity would have been appropriate in dealing with the crisis.

Hirvola made sure that his role was limited to supporting and assisting the Minister.

– Ministers are the ones who make the decisions, as it is they who have been authorised by the people to do so. This is one of the cornerstones of representative democracy. An advisor is there to do just that, to give advice, to share their views, and to make sure that the Minister has all the necessary information to make the decisions.

Brussels became familiar to Matti Hirvola when he was a special advisor to Minister of Finance Jutta Urpilainen.

Hirvola regrets that despite his background in history he did not take down any notes from those days.

“Fortunately, I had the sense to encourage my superior to do so. They were dramatic times for the Continent, and somehow they had to be documented for posterity. Urpilainen took advantage of the time spent on a plane flying back from Brussels to write down all that had happened.”

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