Olli Rehn is the Alumnus of the Year for 2011

The Alumni Association of the University of Helsinki has presented the Alumnus of the Year recognition to Olli Rehn, Member of the European Commission, Economic and Monetary Affairs.

Olli Rehn is the Alumnus of the Year for 2011

The title of Alumnus of the Year was conferred in an alumni celebration held in the Vanha Ylioppilastalo on 27 Oct.

Olli Rehn earned his master’s degree in social sciences in the 1980s. During his studies, Rehn also played as a striker on the University’s football team and worked as the vice-chairman of the Centre Party of Finland.

- My graduation was expedited by the fact that I happened to give a public promise to graduate by the end of 1989. Even during the Midsummer celebrations, I was writing my thesis in Helsinki and enjoyed the deserted city, says Rehn, reminiscing with a smile.

According to Rehn, he has been attracted to strategic leadership and social issues since he was a schoolboy. In elementary school, he sat in the former study of Field Marshall Mannerheim’s ‘right hand’, Lieutenant General Aksel Airo. His father, who sold spare car parts for a living, liked to talk about Finnish history with his son, and his teacher mother subscribed to The Economist and Newsweek.

In politics, European cooperation became Rehn’s speciality. But when, in 1996, he was not re-elected to the European Parliament, there was time again to do research. Rehn completed his doctoral degree in political economy at Oxford University. He worked as professor in the Faculty of Social Sciences of the University of Helsinki in 2002–2003.

Rehn says he is "better at doing than conceptualising" but adds that scientific information is the basis of decision-making in the EU.

- The basic instinct of Commission officials in all fields is that learning about various issues self-evidently begins from going through the existing research information.

The Alumni Association of the University of Helsinki » »

Text: Marko Leppänen
Photo: Veikko Somerpuro
Translation: AAC Global

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