The University of Vaasa to award 12 honorary doctorates – among them the President of Finland, a minister and prominent international business leaders

The University of Vaasa is organising a conferment ceremony of doctoral degrees from 19 to 21 September 2024, during which it will award honorary doctorates to 12 persons of scientific or societal merit. Conferment of honorary doctorate is the highest honour that a university can award.

– In nominating honorary doctorates, we have taken into account both scientific and societal merits and contribution to the University of Vaasa and to Finland as a whole. Recipients of honorary doctorates representing society and international business include President of the Republic of Finland, Alexander Stubb, Minister of Agriculture and Forestry, Sari Essayah, Chairman of Investor AB, one of Sweden’s most valuable investment companies, Jacob Wallenberg, and CEO of ABB, Björn Rosengren. I am delighted that we have such a diverse and distinguished group of new honorary doctors, all of whom are leaders in their fields and advocates of our university's disciplines, says Minna Martikainen, Rector of the University of Vaasa.

The conferral of doctorates in September 2024 will be the sixth in the history of the University of Vaasa. The following people will be awarded honorary doctorates at the graduation ceremony:

Honorary Doctor of Philosophy: 

Alexander Stubb

President of the Republic of Finland Alexander Stubb holds a PhD in international politics. Before becoming President, he was Professor and Director of the School of Transnational Governance at the European University Institute in Florence, Italy. President Stubb is a former National Coalition Party MP, Member of the European Parliament, party leader and multiple minister. He has served as Minister of Foreign Affairs, Minister for European Affairs and Foreign Trade, Prime Minister and Minister of Finance. 

After his ministerial term, he was Vice-President of the European Investment Bank. Prior to his political career, President Stubb worked as a researcher at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Permanent Representation of Finland to the European Union and the Academy of Finland.

The University of Vaasa regards President Stubb as an exemplary international leader who, throughout his career, has drawn attention to the importance of knowledge and science in decision-making.

Honorary Doctor of Administrative Sciences:

Katju Holkeri

Counsellor of Finance, Katju Holkeri is Head of Unit in the State Administration Development Department of the Ministry of Finance. She has become known as a promoter of transparency in various areas of administrative policy.

At a national level, Holkeri has contributed to governance research by serving on the steering groups of numerous research and study projects. She has been a key contributor to the OECD in several roles during her career. She has also been very active at the International Institute of Administrative Sciences (IIAS).

Holkeri's interest in administrative transparency, strengthening democracy, phenomenon-based governance, systemic change and evaluation of governance fits well with the profile of administrative sciences at the University of Vaasa.

Honorary Doctors of Science (Econ. & Bus.Adm.):

Tim Baines

Tim Baines is Professor of Operations Strategy and Executive Director and co-founder of the Advanced Services Group at Aston University. He is the most cited scholar in servitisation and product-service systems and one of the leading intellectuals in the field. He is working hands-on with both global and local manufacturing companies to understand servitisation in practice and help to transform businesses.

Baines has had significant collaboration with the Strategic Business Development research group at the University of Vaasa for many years, including two edited books on servitisation, and the Servitisation Spring Conference organised by the University of Vaasa in 2023.

Sari Essayah

Minister of Agriculture and Forestry Sari Essayah is an alumna of the University of Vaasa. She has a very long and distinguished career in both politics and sports. She is the Secretary-General of the Christian Democrats (Finland), and she has held positions on municipal councils, in the Finnish Parliament and in the European Parliament. In addition to her political roles, she is a board member of the International Olympic Committee and board member of the Finnish Olympic Committee. As an athlete, she achieved notable success, including being the world champion in race walking 1993 and European Champion in 1994 over 10 km.

Throughout her career she has consistently highlighted the positive aspects of University of Vaasa and has positively influenced the perception of her Alma mater.

Iftekhar Hasan

Iftekhar Hasan holds the title of University Professor at Fordham University and has forged a distinguished career in finance. He also serves as the E. Gerald Corrigan Chair in Finance, academic director of the Ph.D. programme and co-director of the Center for Research in Contemporary Finance at Gabelli School of Business. Professor Hasan's research interests are in the areas of financial institutions, corporate finance, capital markets and emerging economies focusing on interdisciplinary questions and public policy issues.

He has had strong practical impact as a scientific advisor at the Central Bank of Finland. He is involved in joint projects with the University of Vaasa and has contributed to these with a very broad and high level of expertise.

Anne Korkiakoski 

A professional board member Anne Korkiakoski is an alumna of the University of Vaasa. She has held positions such as Executive Vice President at Kone Oyj Global Marketing and Communications, Marketing and Communications Director of Elisa Oyj and CEO of Euro RSCG Nordic. She was awarded the Talouselämä Marketing Director of the Year award 2012. Korkiakoski's long list of board assignments includes Nordic Morning Group, Helsinki Marketing, Lunawood, Kalevala Koru, UN Women Finland, Kämp Group, and Lindström Oy. Korkiakoski is a highly regarded figure in the field of marketing and communications with a strong track record of influencing and engaging with corporate executives.

Korkiakoski has selflessly given her time and shared her expertise with her alma mater University of Vaasa. She served as Vice-Chair of the Board of the University of Vaasa from 2018 to 2021. She was a member of the board for two terms. She has been a speaker at several university events and lectured at the university for almost 20 years. She has greatly impacted the university’s fundraising by chairing the university’s Fundraising Committee.

Roberto Verganti

Roberto Verganti is the Josefsson Family Acting Professor in Art and Innovation at the Stockholm School of Economics – House of Innovation, where he is director of the Center for Art & Innovation. Verganti is also a visiting lecturer at Harvard Business School and Co-founder of Leading’Lab at the School of Management of Politecnico di Milano. He is also an Ambassador for the European Innovation Council at the European Commission.

His research focuses on how to create innovations loved by people, both their users and creators. He explores how leaders and organisations generate radically new visions, and make those visions come true. Verganti has published extensively in many leading journals and is the recipient of many prestigious awards. He has actively co-operated with the University of Vaasa, especially in the field of user-oriented innovations.

Jacob Wallenberg

From our university's perspective, Jacob Wallenberg has made a significant contribution to developing the Vaasa region into the largest energy technology hub in the Nordic countries, with significant investments in companies such as ABB and Wärtsilä through his role as Chair of Investor AB.

Under his leadership, Wärtsilä made its largest ever investment in Vaasa. The new Sustainable Technology Hub plays a crucial role in fostering innovation and cooperation as a global competence centre.

This investment in Vaasa region and the new strategic agreement between the University of Vaasa and Wärtsilä are of great significance to the University as we join forces in addressing the energy transition and moving towards a carbon-neutral society. The University of Vaasa truly values Jacob Wallenberg’s visions and efforts in helping Nordic companies, universities and research organisations to collaborate.

Johnny Åkerholm

Johnny Åkerholm, an expert on economic policy, is an exemplary economic influencer. His career includes leadership roles at various institutions: he has led the Nordic Investment Bank and has, held important positions in the Ministry of Finance, Bank of Finland and European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. He has also chaired the Economic and Financial Committee of the European Union.

Åkerholm served as Chairman of the Board of the University of Vaasa for two terms from 2014 to 2021. During this time, he led the University of Vaasa through many transformative changes, investing in research and teaching, not forgetting the university's vital role in the economic region of Vaasa.

Honorary Doctors of Science (Technology):

Björn Rosengren 

From the perspective of the University of Vaasa, Björn Rosengren, CEO of ABB, is an exemplary influencer.

Throughout his long and significant career, he has led not only ABB but also Sandvik and Wärtsilä. He has also been a board member of Danfoss. His actions have greatly impacted the transformation of the Vaasa region into the largest energy technology cluster in the Nordic countries.

The university of Vaasa collaborates closely with ABB and other energy cluster companies in research, product development, innovation and education. Rosengren has often visited Vaasa, inspiring stakeholders to explore new forms of collaboration. The university highly appreciates Rosengren’s contribution to this collaboration through the companies he leads.

Angappa Gunasekaran

Angappa Gunasekaran is Professor of Supply Chain Management at the School of Business Administration at Pennsylvania State University Harrisburg. He has also served as Director of the school. Gunasekaran is a globally recognised interdisciplinary researcher committed to integrating perspectives and methods from various disciplines to create innovative projects. He ranks as the fifth most cited researcher in the category of “Business and Management Scientists” on

In the 1990s, Dr Gunasekaran worked as an associate professor at the University of Vaasa, and later he held the position of FidiPro Special Professor in emerging areas of management and information systems. He still regularly visits our university and has influenced multiple research projects and publications.

Piotr Bielaczyc

Professor Piotr Bielaczyc, Fellow SAE, PhD, currently serves as Global Powertrain Expert and a member of the Scientific Council at BOSMAL Automotive R&D Institute Ltd in Poland, which is the largest vehicle and powertrain systems research and development centre in Central Europe, and as a professor at Krakow University of Technology. Previously, he held the position of Head of the Engine Research Department at this institution for over 20 years and was also Scientific Secretary.

Bielaczyc is a visiting professor at several EU universities where he lectures on global trends in propulsion technology development, the future of emissions legislation and emission reduction technologies.

He has been cooperating with Finnish companies and universities for about 30 years in many research projects, organising scientific conferences and joint publications. He has been a long-time supporter of the University of Vaasa and an active keynote speaker in various forums. In particular, he chaired the advisory board of the Clean Propulsion Technologies project led by the University of Vaasa.

Further information

Chair of Conferment Committee, Rector Minna Martikainen, tel. +358 29 449 8611,  minna.martikainen(at) 

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