“I’m a proud alumnus of MDH”
Erik Lehikoinen studied International Business Management at MDH. He is based in Helsinki but current business endeavors take him around the world.“ I’m a proud alumnus of MDH”, says Erik.
Erik is Senior Vice President of Global Sales for a Finnish scale-up called Logmore. He is responsible for the go-to-market and internationalisation strategy, including building up and polishing the sales process and managing an international team.
“In addition to Logmore, I still advise and coach start-ups with their go-to-market, internationalisation, and fundraising strategies. Via my consulting firm I invest in deep tech and high growth firms and I’m also a member of various advisory boards for different venture capital and other smaller firms.”
How have you benefited from your studies at MDH?
“In my first marketing class our teacher brought the concept of “why” to the table. I love this question and at MDH I felt really privileged that no matter how many times I asked this question, the teachers were very eager to help. The open-door policy to teachers’ offices was also a fantastic privilege and still to this day I remember many interesting conversations that were initiated with a simple question like “why did you lecture so long about x and y”. The teachers liked to have these discussions outside of the class that really fostered my hunger to think beyond what the book says and connect more dots.
Without the people and learning methodologies I encountered at MDH I would not be equipped to run global teams and make any sense of this world. I have kept most of my notes from my lectures and keep going back to them. The more I work, the more sense the old study materials seem to make. I will see how I feel in 20 years.”
What made you choose International Business Mangement?
“Ever since I was a kid, I felt this urgency to break the bubbles that were built in Finland. That hunger to find answers and expand my thinking forced me to find a way to do this. My curious mind dreamt of being a sailor who sails to unknown territories to discover new places. Since we are not living in the 17th century anymore the obvious choice was to study International Business.”
What is your best memory from your study time?
“This is a tough one as I have so many good memories. In addition to all the great friendships I made and the fun we had I need to highlight the moment when, for the first time in my life, I got 100 per cent in an exam. I failed roughly 50 per cent of my exams during the first year of my studies. During the second year, I was so sick of the situation and therefore I made a complete change and decided to follow the best student, in terms of grades, and copy his methods.
During the course “Marketing & IT” I got the reward for my efforts and got my first A, and it proved that the implemented changes and methods were working. What an amazing moment that was, and even today it gives me the fuel to find the right methods to keep improving results.”
What have you been working with since you finished studying?
“Straight after I finished at MDH I arranged tennis camps in Spain for Swedish families and continued to look for further internationalisation opportunities. I started my Masters in Small Business & Entrepreneurship at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands. In conjunction with my studies, I wanted to put the theory into practice and used my consulting firm to advise and help Finnish start-ups to internationalise.
One of my consulting gigs got me so excited about the area of machine learning (ML) that I went all in and got my first equity stake in a deep tech firm that focuses on ML in the container logistics scene. I took over as the CCO for that firm, expanded the business to the port capital of Europe – Rotterdam. I was responsible for the commercial strategy, internationalisation and investor relations. We raised venture capital in a few successful rounds that enabled us to continue with the tech development and polishing up our go to market strategy."
What are your views on the future – what will you be working with in 5 years’ time?
“What Jeff Bezos has emphasised many times when talking about Amazon’s future strategy is very cool. He talks about why worry too much about how the world will change in the coming years. Instead, he and the teams at Amazon want to figure out what will not change. This view enables Amazon to create more effective strategies and provides the clarity required for effective execution. There are so many variables that one cannot hedge or control regarding how the world will change.
Following on the same line of thought I’m not going to stop craving more information and experiences and investigate how the economic machine of the world works. Thus, I’ll keep investing in early-stage companies. In addition, I really want to see the growth path of a young company all the way to an IPO. Time will tell if this will be by running somebody else’s company or starting something on my own."
We encourage all alumni to cooperate with Mälardalen University in various ways, for example as a mentor and guest lecturer. What do you think of that idea?
“I love it! Effective mentorship programmes create an awesome mutually reinforced learning experience and this is the way we can keep our minds sharp.”