Introducing the foundation’s personnel: the Research Director and Administrative Director occupy a vantage point in environmental protection and research

Minttu Jaakkola and Jarmo Hirvonen enjoy their work with the Nessling Foundation. Both are passionate about working towards a common goal, using their specific areas of expertise. What exactly are these areas and what are the differences between their work-related duties?

Administrative Director Jarmo Hirvonen and Research Director Minttu Jaakkola feel that their work with the Nessling Foundation has offered them a vantage point in the transformation of environmental work and foundations.

Jarmo: Back when I joined Nessling 25 years ago, it was common for people working at the court of appeal to have a second job. I’ve worked for the Supreme Court and the Ministry of Justice, among other things, and currently, I’m employed by the Office of the Parliamentary Ombudsman. I have always worked for Nessling alongside these positions.

At the time, most of my working hours were consumed by real estate matters. The foundation mostly awarded grants using rental income. These days, my duties at the foundation include managing administrative and financial matters. The world of foundations has become more transparent, which is why the legal work is now more precise.

Minttu: My background is in ecology and evolutionary biology. After finishing my doctorate, I left my position as a researcher and worked in science administration. I also worked as a teacher and developed multidisciplinary studies in sustainable development at the University of Turku before joining Nessling. Today, I still work with science and research at the foundation, but from a slightly different perspective. This job is the perfect vantage point in discourse concerning the environment, research and the prerequisites of research.

As the Research Director, my responsibilities include managing the operative side of things. This means considering the purpose of the foundation in this day and age and the best ways to realise the purpose of the foundation through funding here and now. This way, the foundation operates in interaction with research, researchers and social discourse.


Jarmo: While ‘attorney’ is a traditional title associated with foundations, it can result in some confusion. Someone unfamiliar with the world of foundations might confuse ‘attorney’ with ‘lawyer’ or simply not understand what the term even means. On the other hand, those who know more about foundations might assume that the attorney manages the general activities. However, in our foundation, that’s Minttu’s responsibility. We decided to change the title to Administrative Director.

Minttu: The goal was to make the differences between the positions clearer, and in that regard, I find the new titles very functional. You immediately understand that the Research Director is in charge of substance while the Administrative Director handles administrative duties. Both have their areas of responsibility that are now reflected in the titles. The new, gender-neutral title is also a big plus!


Jarmo: Our shared activities are mostly related to board meetings. Minttu presents the operative matters to the board, while I present financial and administrative topics. We prepare the agendas together. In a way, our operational sectors always come together when preparing board meetings.

Minttu and I find it easy to work together. Minttu is creative and energetic and always full of new ideas.

Minttu: The benefit of a small working community is that we are able to talk and work on things together. The division of labour between us enables both of us to focus on our core competence in our respective areas of responsibility. As a result, we can discuss the operations and development of the foundation together through our expertise.

As a coworker, Jarmo acts as a great counterbalance. If I sometimes get carried away with my ideas, I can rely on Jarmo to bring me back to earth. Jarmo has been a great support for me as he has extensive experience in the world of foundations and his expertise helps me trust that everything at the Nessling Foundation will be managed just right.


Jarmo: Working for the foundation has opened many doors I wouldn’t have otherwise had the chance to walk through. It’s been wonderful to be involved in the activities of a foundation where you can do good deeds. I don’t think there are many side jobs that make you feel this way. Working at the Nessling Foundation is a great counterweight for other work. The working community is very dynamic and I’ve met so many nice and smart people along the way!

Minttu: The agility mentioned by Jarmo has truly been a great asset. The foundation makes you feel like you can actually make a difference and change the world. You get to meet incredible researchers and people from different sectors and talk about themes related to environmental research, the changing world and the means of changing the world.

The field of environmental protection and research is undergoing major changes. Just five years ago, I was made to feel like a tree hugger for having a job related to the environment. Now, being aware of and concerned about the changes in the environment is part of an all-round education. Taking environmental issues into consideration also plays a strategic role in pioneering companies these days. It has been great to have a vantage position in witnessing the world change its views about the environment.

Jarmo: The shift in the world of foundations has also made transparency unprecedentedly important. I feel that, as a foundation, we have the responsibility to be open and present the operations of foundations at their best in Finland.

Minttu: I also feel that our responsibility as a foundation is to consider what kind of a field of operations we are creating for other foundations. The Nessling Foundation can play a role in promoting a favourable atmosphere for foundations in Finland by setting an example for good deeds carried out by foundations in order to build a better society for all.