Having a Purpose Beyond Profit


Thank God it’s Monday! Remember Postman Pat, the children’s cartoon of the mailman with the bright red van? According to the theme song, this is how he felt going to work early in the morning: “All the birds are singing, And the day is just beginning, Pat feels he’s a really happy man.” Hand to heart, how many of us felt this way the last Monday, or the one before, or the one before that one?

We spend quite a bit of time at work. Sure we get paid, and that’s part of the motivation and story behind slipping out of bed. But there’s got to be more, right? To really put your best foot forward, certainly there’s more to work than a little less room in your bank account once a month?

The best places to work inspire us and all fellow employees, management, customers, and other stakeholders with a sense of meaning and purpose. As Professor Ed Freeman said “We need red blood cells to live the same way a business needs profits to live, but the purpose of life is more than to make red blood cells; the same way the purpose of business is more than simply to generate profits.” A more profound purpose to running the business instills motivation, it energizes people toward fulfilling that purpose and gives a sense of direction also in tougher times. All stakeholders want to be part of the story and part of the movement for reaching that higher purpose beyond profit.

There are lots of examples of such companies with a higher purpose that have been very successful also commercially; Whole Foods, Patagonia, the Seventh Generation and the Container Store to name just a few. These are thriving businesses generating a healthy profit but that have an ulterior purpose beyond profit making, for example to help people lead healthier lives or minimizing our ecological footprint.

As a university, we at HAAGA-HELIA are in the very business of having a purpose beyond profit.


Our aim is to harness promising young talent and nurture and cultivate their potential and skills to make them ready to succeed and make a difference in today’s competitive business environment. Along the lines of the old proverb; we are not giving fish to feed on for a day but teaching the skills necessary to fish to feed our students for a lifetime.

Some mornings may open up with sunshine and a clear sky while others, like today, are so foggy you can hardly see the next 100 meters. Likewise, your job motivation may not always be there every minute of every day, sometimes we may have to dig a little deeper to find it. However, I am convinced that if we take a minute to think about the higher purpose of the work we do, we will find the silver lining to compliment the possible cloud. Isn’t that why we chose education?

Photos are from our new students’ recreation day on 2nd September in Vierumäki. 
Watch video from YouTube 

Text Minna-Maari Harmaala
Principal Lecturer, Corporate Responsibility

Photo made by Tarja Leponiemi


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