Leader in Spotlight Hannu-Matias Nurmi: An entrepreneur with MSc. in theology – how did that happen?

Author Henley Business School Finland

Published 17.5.2024

Alumni Coaching Leader in Spotlight

Just before the global pandemic hit, in early 2020, Hannu-Matias Nurmi took a brave step. He founded a company. Not the most common route to entrepreneurship as Hannu-Matias has a humanistic background. However, nowadays, the company – called Chief Executive Search – employs eight people and is growing.  

Hannu-Matias and his colleagues have a fresh perspective and an innovative approach to the quite traditional business of high level executive search. The company’s mission is to improve leadership in Finland, one assignment at a time.

We aim towards leadership development approach instead of just moving executives from company to another.

What’s interesting in Hannu-Matias’s story, is his background which is not the most typical one for an entrepreneur. Hannu-Matias holds a MSc. in theology, with major in social ethics. He has also done some MBA studies at Henley Business School, and graduated from Henley’s PCEC (Professional Certificate in Executive Coaching) program. Hannu-Matias chose the Henley Business School and couldn’t be more satisfied. He had high expectations, and he feels that they have been met well.

“For someone with entirely humanistic higher education, MBA was a great accelerator in the general business understanding and in adapting the learnings for solving very concrete business challenges. I’ve personally enjoyed most the PCEC journey that challenged me to really adapt a coaching mindset, while building up my coaching toolbox to help top executives in their personal development”, elaborates Hannu-Matias. 

Hannu-Matias sees that coaching actually played a huge role already at the time he was doing his MBA studies. He had a tutor, who coached him and via that thought process, Hannu-Matias gained confidence to jump into the unknown and start his own company.  

This has been the step with the most positive impact in my career so far. Quite a huge impact!

When it comes to the key recipe in succeeding in today’s working life and leading a meaningful career, Hannu-Matias has many tips, but he still thinks, the question is really hard. A leader for sure needs strong self-reflection skills combined with ambition and a humble attitude. He also refers to the book he has written about CEOs (Toimitusjohtaja, Kauppakamari, 2021) and points out certain common nominators that people, who end up on the top. have: 1) interest in whole company’s success (instead of their own silo), 2) a brave attitude for accepting new challenges, and 3) enough humility and self-reflection to learn really fast whatever they need to learn in a new role.  

Every leader also faces setbacks and hardships, and this is where the ability to reflect & learn is tested. Good leaders are masters in knowing their people well enough to set the bar on the level that leaves room for professional growth but that is also reachable.

Hannu-Matias thinks that leaders at all levels would benefit massively from having a coaching mindset and an ability to coach their people.

I’d recommend Henley’s PCEC for any leader that wants to take their leadership to the next level. Our whole team goes through Henley’s executive coaching program (PCEC), which is an essential part of the consultant’s core expertise at Chief Executive Search.

But it’s not all about coaching, entrepreneurship or executive search. In the afternoons and weekends Hannu-Matias concentrates on being a father of two and a football coach for kids. That’s probably the most important job – to coach the future leaders of the future companies.  

Read our other Alumni in the Spotlight interviews. 

P.S. Have you already familiarised yourself with the Henley Student and Alumni Mentoring Programme? The programme is accessible through Henley Live. If you have not registered to Henley Live yet, signup here.


Henley Business School Finland

Henley Business School Finland