1. Tell us about yourself.
I’m Aarni, your friendly neighbourhood geek from Helsinki, Finland! I graduated from ARU Cambridge a little over a year ago, and since then have moved on to undertake a fully funded PhD at the University of Surrey’s School of Hospitality and Tourism Management.
I love all things sci-fi, and quite fittingly my doctoral research looks into the application of artificial intelligence and robotics in Hospitality services. It’s a dream come true for a nerd like myself! In my spare time I like learning new languages (I’m currently on my fifth), exercising (my drug of choice is long-distance running), and cuddling with my lovely three-legged rescue cat Lily.
2. What is your fondest memory at Anglia Ruskin University?
I think the best part were the people. Our cohort was super international, and it was amazing to meet and learn with people from all over the world. It gave all of the lectures and seminars added depth and perspective, which was much appreciated.
3. What advice would you give to current students as they're preparing to graduate?
Make sure you finish strong even when you’re probably all fed up and just want it to be over. In a few years you will regret not giving it your all when you had the chance.
4. What do you know now that you wish you had known whilst you were studying?
The connections you make during your studies will last you a lifetime - so make sure you start building that professional network early on. Don’t be afraid to approach even the scariest, most senior academics - they’re only human, just like you!
5. How did your time at Anglia Ruskin help you?
My time at Anglia sparked my interest in research, and in doing so, opened up possibilities I never even dreamed were available to me initially.
6. What did you love about your chosen course?
Apart from my amazing colleagues, I loved how we were encouraged to pursue our personal interests and integrate them into our studies. There was a great mix of optional modules available, and the compulsory ones were super flexible, too. You had pretty much full control over your own learning experience, and everyone’s experience was different.
7. What would you tell someone thinking of studying at ARU?
Stop thinking and just go for it. You won’t regret it.
8. In one word how would you describe Anglia?
9. Who was the biggest influence on your career?
Our course leader Chris Wilbert and my PGMP tutor Mike Duignan. Both encouraged me greatly on my chosen career path.
10. What accomplishment are you most proud of?
Probably the First I got for a compulsory module called ‘Research Methods’. It was great fun, and provided a good opportunity to test my research ideas before launching into full-on dissertation mode.
11. What advice would you give your younger self?
Don’t be afraid to believe in yourself. You’re capable of much more than you could ever imagine.
12. What drives you?
Naive curiosity. An endless thirst for knowledge. A burning desire to help others, to give back. Green tea. Wool socks. And of course the brilliant team at Surrey’s School of Hospitality and Tourism Management, especially my amazing supervisors Dr. Iis Tussyadiah and Dr. Jason Stienmetz. I’m constantly inspired by them.
13. What’s next?
Working in science is addictive. It makes you feel like a modern-day explorer; you’re out there, chasing the great unknown, pushing the boundaries of knowledge, all the while standing on the shoulders of those who came before, building and refining their knowledge. It’s extremely exciting, and humbling. What more can one ask? I know I’m hooked.