5 questions with... Markku Markkula
Rowing, connecting with nature and learning the art of listening.
1. Which person you have worked with has most inspired you in your career, and how?
Zhang Shourang, the chief engineer at Wuhan Iron and Steel, a company that, at the time, employed 100,000 people. He was the Vice-President of the International Association for Continuing Engineering Education, when I was their Secretary General. Zhang was a true human personality - he completed excellent university studies, but then in the turmoil of the Cultural Revolution, he worked in a plant at floor level. He was later promoted to key global roles. He influenced me through our long discussions on Chinese culture, and by being an example of what real life competences mean in true leadership.
2. What do you do in your free time to relax and unwind?
As a typical Finn, I love to go fishing, using a small rowing boat or canoe in a lake or a river. And of course hiking in forests and picking mushrooms. Maintaining a connection to nature is very important to me.
3. How would you describe your political style in three words and why?
Empathetic, innovative and target-oriented. I am very committed to achieving results and impact - in many cases via complex routes, as tackling societal challenges in politics is not an easy task.
4. What was the most humbling thing you have experienced in your career?
As a 14-year schoolboy, I was invited to take part in a psychological test. I was in a group of people who each had to listen to a story independently and then, after a few minutes, tell it to the next person in the chain. I was the fifth link in the chain. I completely mixed up the key points of the story and forgot half of it. This taught me to listen and use my brains to remember things. I started a conscious learning process based on that experience.
5. What was the most inspirational and influential book you have read and why?
When I was a member of the Finnish Parliament visiting London in 1999, I met Subir Chowdhury in a bookstore, signing copies of his new book, Management 21C. It comprises of some 30 articles written by more or less well-known thinkers such as Peter Senge and CK Prahalad, people I went on to meet. The book includes 'dreaming' through several in-depth ideas and analysis which I have used in my pioneering global ventures. It is one of the most inspiring leadership and management books, among the more than 1000 professional books I have at home.