From hosting Hollywood celebrities, and serving champagne under the sun and the warm rain of Maasai Mara, Kenya, Haaga-Helia alumni, 34-year-old Jaakko Eskola is nothing short of amazing. Born in Kuopio, Finland and having grown up in Uusikaupunki, South West Finland, Jaakko moved to Helsinki to pursue his dream and study hospitality management. Being an active student, Jaakko took part in two international competitions (YHS in Lausanne, Switzerland and Mise-en-place cup in Netherlands) which just confirmed his passion for this industry. He also took part in organizing EUROCHRIE conference which was held in Helsinki in 2009.
Jaakko completed all of his internships abroad in order to develop multicultural leadership skills. His first internship took place near Stockholm, Sweden in a place called Friiberghs Herrgård, one of the Sweden’s first conference centres, now offering truly creative meetings, weekend and golf packages. On top of operational skills here, Jaakko learned how good managers build and motivate teams to perform together. Second internship took him to Lanzarote, Spain where he got insight into admin and management side of work while working at the back office. Last internship he completed in the headquarters of the Leading Hotels of the World in New York. As he said: “This experience helped me to understand the level of performance needed to be part of an international organisation and also my first exposure to luxury”.
After coming back to Helsinki from the last internship and taking on the position of club leader of Haaga Future Leader’s Club, Jaakko took part in organizing Gastro Fair as part of his studies, through which he got a job in Kempinski Hotels’ Corporate office in Geneva, Switzerland. He started as a corporate F&B trainee and was promoted to a role of a manager after 6 months. He worked in the corporate office for 2 years in total where he met some of the industry’s most talented people, got to travel to three continents and grew as a professional. After that he was transferred to Kenya as the acting head of department for Villa Rosa’s F&B operation. The hotel has three restaurants, two bars, a large banqueting hall and a safari camp. Jaakko had 80 people in his team and another 70 in the kitchen. It was a magical place that attracted movie stars and heads of states including Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. Apart from the amazing people he met, Jaakko remembers his four-legged guests as well: “I served champagne under the sun and the warm rain of Maasai Mara with a pack of lions resting before the night of hunting with wildebeest herd hundred strong nervously observing both us and the big cats. So many amazing experiences!”.
After leaving Kempinski, Jaakko opened his own consulting company, before starting to work in HUONE as market entry manager. HUONE is fairly new established company, which offers creative meeting rooms (such as Electro room in the picture) and helps businesses achieve their meeting goals. They focus fully and solely on meeting agenda and the meeting experience and together with meeting owners, they design perfect solution for the meeting /event attendees. After a few years of successful operation in Helsinki, HUONE team decided to expand to Singapore. Jaakko joined them on this journey through his consultant company and soon after that he became market entry manager. HUONE has ambitious plans to open in many locations around the world and as Jaakko stated: “I very much look forward to help HUONE to become globally recognized brand”.
Jaakko reflects on the most valuable lessons he learnt from his experiences: “The most cherished lessons I have are about the beauty of working with individuals from different backgrounds and cultures and how to find a common goal for everyone. Finally, nothing beats the joy of seeing someone in your team to grow as a leader.”
Market Entry Manager
HUONE Events Hotels
Electro room: HUONE Helsinki, Finland