- IMD Business School
Alumni Stories

Four countries, five industries: the Finnish Alumni Club President’s career of constant reinvention

Fernando Trolia Slamic (MBA 2010) has not only moved from Argentina to Canada and from Switzerland to Finland, where he has resided for the past 12 years, but he has also adeptly steered his career through diverse industries.
5 min.
November 2023

Starting off in construction, Trolia Slamic later transitioned to oil and gas, which was followed by a stint in electrical systems. But the journey didn’t end there; he then ventured into food and packaging and now works in the sphere of weather and climate.

The driving force behind these exciting shifts across industries is his passion for lifelong learning. This is an important motivator in both his personal and professional life.

“I’ve switched industries five times in my career. For me, lifelong learning involves stepping out of my comfort zone, or an industry you’re familiar with, and learning a completely new company culture or industry. This forces me to learn, be agile, and be open to new ideas.”

A better world

He is currently Director of Strategy and Business Development at Vaisala, one of the world leaders for monitoring and forecasting weather. Its slogan is: ‘Observations for a better world’. 

As an illustration, Vaisala collaborates with the aviation and maritime industries, given that both are highly susceptible to weather events; as well as wind and solar energy. 

“We observe, model the data, and then share it with various stakeholders to help them adapt to extreme weather and a rapidly changing climate,” explains Trolia Slamic.

“We’re also growing rapidly in the area of city resilience, which assesses how well urban spaces can cope with the impact of extreme weather, including heat waves and severe storms and floods. So that’s why we say observations for a better world.” 

He confesses to being a voracious reader, always eager to stay informed about the latest trends in business leadership and mega-trends. 

“That’s why I like to stay connected with IMD and follow what is going on in the world of business,” he says. 

Since neither him nor his wife are Finnish, they realized, after having lived in their new home country for a few years, that not having a professional network was quite challenging. It’s for this reason he decided to join the Alumni Club in Helsinki in 2018, with the intention of expanding his professional connections and engaging more in this community. 

“I wanted to accelerate building my networks and to be introduced to the local business environment,” he explains.   

“But the other reason is that we form a strong bond with our alma mater at IMD. We’ve been through all the lectures and project work during our courses, and many members from my own class are either sitting on boards or actively involved in various clubs around the world as well. 

“The MBA was a strong professional and personal experience, and you don’t really want to let go especially after you’ve gained all these friends.”

New Rules

Trolia Slamic has been President of the Finnish Alumni Club since 2021. He has enjoyed his time but will step down in February next year in accordance with new rules on tenure. 

“We’re very proud of how we improved and professionalized our operations, and for me as club president, it forces me to find the best next candidate.” 

The Finnish club was registered as a non-profit association in 2021, and it’s now legally recognized with its own constitution, operating principles, and an annual general meeting where candidates and other changes are to be approved. 

“For example, we have roles such as president, deputy, treasurer, secretary, and communications officer,” Trolia Slamic says.  

No one can hold the same role for more than two consecutive years. Additionally, the maximum term on the board is four years. After leaving the board, members can apply again to join one year later. 

As for other clubs around the world, board members are volunteers that give their time out of their personal time. 

“We are all professionals and alumni, coming from various programs and backgrounds, with our own day jobs and families, but committed to our club’s mission.” 

Two needs to leave

Another policy the Finnish club has implemented is that every year at least two members of the board need to leave and two new members need to join. That prompts the rotation and refreshment of the club. 

 “This rotation has helped to keep our club active and vibrant over the years, and reflects a strong diversity of industries and personal backgrounds,” Trolia Slamic says. 

“The aim is to continue with this, sharing also best practices with other clubs in the region.” 

The Finnish club’s mission is to organize events for local members to meet in person and to support them in their lifelong learning. The club’s membership stands at about 1,400 people, and all events are possible thanks to the support of corporations who are having or recently had leadership programs with IMD. 

“I was surprised by the significant alumni presence of IMD in Finland, and its strong brand across corporations,” reflects Trolia Slamic. “I think this is rooted in the early 2000s when IMD worked a lot with leaders in a thriving technology industry. Those leaders have since spread across to around different companies and industrial sectors, resulting in a strong connection back to IMD.”