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Leader in spotlight: Miika Inkiläinen, SVP of Atlantic Airways

1000 recruitments in two years – how a business jet pilot became fascinated by academia and HR

1000 recruitments in two years – how a business jet pilot became fascinated by academia and HR

Miika Inkiläinen has experienced a lot in his life: he has been an airline pilot for 15 years, he has acted as Managing Director of a business jet company, done an EMBA and now he is SVP of a fast-growing long-distance airline, Norse Atlantic Airways – but his next endeavor will be PhD in human resources.

How a pilot became enchanted by an academic career?

Miika tells that as director of a business jet company he obviously had accumulated a lot of practitioner insight into running a business during his 10 years of tenure, overseeing a staff of 200 people and a fleet of 16 jets, but then he started thinking that it would be good to have a formal education. His father is Doctor in Economics, so he strongly encouraged Miika to do an EMBA.

Miika says that the EMBA journey was a fascinating one, as often he got a déjà vu feeling in workshops: he recognized that in his past career he had encountered exactly the same situation that was being discussed in the workshop, but he didn’t have a theoretical framework to process it. Miika affirms that being able to understand the theory behind the practice is something that enchants him.

Miika believes that very often decisions are made based on gut feeling, or intuition, rather than based on facts and evidence, even though there is a plethora of research available. He asserts that acquiring a way of thinking that is based on facts is the best thing he learned during his EMBA journey.

Miika’s current position and his next steps

In his current job as SVP People at Norse Atlantic Airways, a long-distance airline which took over Norwegian’s intercontinental routes, he is in a puzzling situation. On the other hand, costs should rigorously be monitored and cut, but on the other hand, there is an acute shortage of pilots, putting pressure on wages. The covid pandemic made a lot of pilots to leave the industry and not all of them have gone back. Norse Atlantic Airways is growing fast. When Miika started two years ago, there were 100 people onboard – now there are more than 1200. So, Miika has been in the process of recruiting 1000 people in two years!

The next step in Miika’s life is doing a PhD in human resources. His thesis explores how interim managers are being assesses and what kind of expectations are being set for them. His thesis which is a continuation to his MRC, is that interim managers are often not given a clear job description nor are their competencies and skills assessed in a systematic way. So, we can assume that in a few years time we will hear some interesting news on interim managers!

Read our other Leader in the Spotlight interviews.

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