Risto Vahanen’s thoughts on his 60th birthday

When he was a young boy Risto Vahanen, now Chairman of the Board of Vahanen Group, tagged along with his father Mikko Vahanen on construction sites as soon as he learned how to walk. At the time Finland was building large garrisons all over the country, to which his father’s engineering company participated in. Risto says that on the construction sites of the garrisons a pair of concrete boots were grown into his feet that he hasn’t been able to get out of.

However, in school he thought he would never go into the construction business. Father was often away from home for his work and even on Christmas came home only after the Santa had visited. The boy still ultimately ended up studying engineering in Helsinki University of Technology, where it at first seemed as if everything in construction had already been invented. He did his master’s thesis for materials division of the Technical Research Centre of Finland, where his mentor was Mr. Hannu Pyy who nowadays works as a leading specialist in Vahanen Group’s laboratory services.Building materials swept him away to its world and as the years have passed, Risto has noticed in Finland we are still in the beginning in developing harmonious, healthy and safe built environment. It is this development that Risto wants to be a part of and has thrown the challenge also to his colleagues and other actors in the construction business.

Working with Scouts close to the heart

Risto’s dearest hobby once was scouts, where he got involved because his sister made him, but he eventually got hooked on it. Risto says that the scouts have offered him the best education in preparing him to be a leader and manage people. In scouts he got his first touch with internationality as well – he served for six years as the Finnish Boy Scouts’ international ambassador and participated for example in initiating Finnish Scouts’ development cooperation with scouts from Zambia and Namibia.

Through the international projects with scouts Risto understood that his own company has to internationalize too. Without international competence one will be left behind the competition. The international aspect has opened his eyes to understand that Finland has to invest in developing skills and technology – with current investments we can’t keep up with global development. According to Risto, the Finnish property and construction field with its clients and service providers therefore must combine their forces to develop the industry to become an internationally dominant cluster in its chosen areas.

Risto Vahanen celebrates his 60th anniversary on 27th of December 2013.