Hanken is a World of Its Own – Reflections from a Scholarship Recipient

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A young man who had spent a good part of his formative educational years dissatisfied with the education system in his country soon found his niche in the world of Finance. Now, studying at the Hanken School of Economics, that very young man sees hope that with his experience he will be able to bring about the change his country so desperately needs.


Growing up in a country like Pakistan has never been easy if you do not come from a background of privilege. For the struggling middle class even basic rights such as quality education become a matter of allotment at birth:  if you are born into privilege, you will get the best education and if not, you are on your own. Seeing this disparity, I began to lose my motivation to study. I was by no means lazy, nor was I someone who refused to do well just because it was not handed to me. But because the universe works in its own mysterious ways, I somehow found it in me to strive to do well in life and ended up getting admitted to one of the top-tier universities in Pakistan.  During my time in the Accounting and Finance Program at the Institute of Business Administration in Karachi, I met Dr. Hilal, who introduced me to Hanken, having completed his PhD from there.

The more I heard about his experiences, the more I began to live vicariously through him. All the reasons for my lack of motivation began to seem more like a bad dream, the more I envisioned myself studying here. And it wasn’t just the quality of education that had me sold on Finland. Here I was seeing myself spend time in one of the safest and happiest countries in the world. I knew no matter how much I imagined what the Northern Lights would look like, my imagination would never do justice to the real thing. I dreamt of trekking in the forests in the summers and going skiing in the winters. I even began looking forward to all-nighters if I could drink famous Finnish coffee.

But I knew the odds were never stacked in my favor. As much as my parents supported my dream to study at Hanken, they didn’t have the financial means to help fund my master’s education. As I was assessing my options, I came across the GSBN Scholarship Program. It was as though the program had been hand-crafted especially for me. I ticked all the boxes: I came from a developing country on their list, I had maintained a strong 3.5 GPA in my bachelors, I had work experience at one of the most sought out MNCs in Pakistan. Yet part of me feared rejection. After envisioning my life in Finland and Hanken, the fear of rejection was almost crippling. I cannot possibly put into words the happiness, relief and excitement I felt when I got accepted into Hanken School of Economics. There are way too many words and yet they still are not enough to encapsulate the feeling. It was almost empowering because I saw a future not just for me but for my country and my countrymen. I knew from the minute I got my acceptance that I would use all that I would learn in the upcoming two years to play a part on bringing about economic change in “Naya Pakistan” (New Pakistan), as it is being called in recent times.

It is fair to say that my time here has lived up to all the expectations I had. Hanken is a world of its own. With so much diversity, it is as though all the world network is connected at a single platform.  These international networks that we are forming during our time here will prove to be so much more important when we all go out in our respective fields and find that we are all still connected and available to help each other whenever the need may arise.  The learning environment at Hanken is a safe space. Competition is healthy and we have student unions in place to make sure whatever needs and concerns we have, are given a proper voice. We have both mental and physical health services available to make sure that our time here is well utilized and that the pressure that comes with any university experience does not get too much to bear.

Hanken is also invested in our future. It has provided career counseling services so that students do not get overwhelmed when the time to step out in the real world arises. They also serve as a link between students and future potential employers to ensure that we make the best use of our education.  Similarly, there are various opportunities to get help on assignments and thesis work without any registration required. Hanken also encourages us to grow into multi-dimensional individuals and allows us to study non-degree modules. So not only can we dip into other interests but can do it in universities other than Hanken to have a diverse experience. To put it in a nutshell, everything about Hanken is essentially wholesome.

It also goes without saying that the faculty at Hanken is unparalleled. With highly esteemed scholars, doctors and well experienced professors, there is nothing more a student could want. My time here at Hanken is probably the best time of my life. It has steered me in the direction I want to go. I have already made plans for my doctorate and it doesn’t end there. I have decided that I want return to Pakistan and not just teach, but actively partake in the new technocratic government as the country make its Hail Mary attempt to undo decades of malfeasance. I also want to be a success story, if not for anyone, at least for my family that privilege is not the key to success.

Sohaib Ahmed, Master’s student in Finance.


The Hanken School of Economics offered two scholarships to students currently studying at or alumni of GBSN member schools from developing countries who apply to and are accepted into Hanken’s 2-year Master’s Degree program in the 2019-2020 academic year. The GBSN scholars received the Hanken Premium Scholarship, which covers full tuition fee for two years and 8000 EUR/year for living expenses.  The same scholarships will be offered in the 2020-2021 academic year starting in Fall 2020. The application period will open in early 2020. More information can be found here.