Name: Ali Jahangiri
Birthplace: Tehran, Iran
Place of residence: Vantaa, Finland (in the Greater Helsinki Metropolitan Area of Finland)
Fun fact about yourself: I meditate in cold water and constantly battle iPhone Siri.
BSc and MSc programmes:
Bachelor’s programme in Business Administration; MSc Economics and Business Administration
Can you tell us a little bit about your life and career before studying for a business degree?
I moved to Finland with my parents and brother at the age of 10. Grew up in a poor suburb of Vantaa, Finland. Started working at the age of 13 to help my parents cover living expenses. Played basketball for the local team until 17. Applied for High School and got accepted to the Helsinki English School. It was a private school where I thought break dancing to cover my tuition. After high school went to the army and got accepted to the Finnish military academy, but my parents did not allow me to enter because they did not flee one war to see their son join another military.
(Please note that in Finland, every male citizen has a duty to serve the country as conscript. Women have a possibility for voluntary service.)
Talk us through your decision to seek refuge and move, and the journey this involved?
I did not have much saying in the matter. My parents woke me and my brother up in the middle of the night and we left.
What did you find most difficult when arriving in a completely new country?
I was 10 at the time. Learning the language and finding new friends was the most difficult in the beginning. Also becoming the family caretaker as I was the first to learn the language left its marks. I had to translate my parent’s doctor appointments, social care meetings and other events that a normal 10-year-old would not have to face.
Why did you decide to apply for the Helsinki School of Economics (today Aalto University School of Business), and a degree in Business?
Since I could not accept my place in the Military Academy, I took a year off to figure out what I wanted. Medical School and Law School were good options but I was more eager to become an entrepreneur. Some of my friends had applied and got accepted to the school so I chose the same path.
How was your experience and what did you find most challenging?
I had a very good experience. It took me about 10 years to finally graduate from Aalto University School of Business since in my final year I got a job in a prestigious consulting company. I climbed the ranks fast and my studies became secondary. But finally, in 2012, I graduated shortly after resigning from my position in the company and founding my venture.
Can you talk us through your life and career post-graduation?
I graduated in 2012. I had already built a career in consulting and it was time to set up my own company. I had started performing stand up comedy in 2007. And by 2013 I had built a brand around my comedy that needed my full-time attention. In 2016 I relived my refugee tail while filming a documentary about the refugees entering Europe. Hamy Ramezans and my movie, The Refugee Unknown won the best movie title at the Tampere Film Festival.
What skills have you utilized from the program in your career?
Overall knowledge of marketing and the essence of management has helped me build my current status.
What advice would you give to other refugees looking to leave their countries and considering studying for a business degree?
Don’t give up. It’s a lot of work, but you will make it. I became an established comedian and an entrepreneur and my brother studied to become a medical doctor and he has also started his own company.
Where do you see yourself in the next five years?
I have a plan for my future, but I can only live this moment
DON’T MISS: MEET THE BUSINESS SCHOOL REFUGEES