Cooperation and passion for food

Matti Hakkarainen, HKFoods' VP Red Meat Business, is passionate about food even in his spare time. HKFoods has taken Matti through China and Denmark to roles that emphasise collaboration within the organisation and with stakeholders.


Could you briefly describe your career path?
I graduated with a Master's degree in Economics from the University of Vaasa in 1994 and in 2006, I completed an MBA at Henley Management School. From 1994 to 2014 I worked in various positions at Metsä Tissue and Metsä Group. I then took a year of family leave with my children and worked as a partner in two small companies. In 2016, I started at HKFoods in exports, and my journey took me through China and Denmark to the position of Export Development Director in 2021. At the moment I work as HKFoods’ VP Red Meat Business.

Describe HKFoods briefly as an employer, in three words for example.  
There are of course more words to describe our company, but in a nutshell, HKFoods is iconic, diverse and traditional. And while we are traditional, we are also a truly modern food company!

What is it that you do at HKFoods?
I’m responsible for HKFoods' Finnish red meat business, which means implementing the product category strategy in cooperation with the HKFoods organisation. The main objectives are to maintain and strengthen the iconic HK brand and develop high-quality, tasty and interesting beef and pork products for Finnish consumers as part of HKFoods' diverse food offering.

What is the best thing about your job?
Working with food. I'm passionate about home cooking, and the most fun moments in my job are when I get to put on my chef's jacket and cook. I also find it very motivating to work as part of the Finnish, clean and authentic food chain from farm to table.

What does your job require?
My job definitely requires cooperation, determination and the ability to see things from many different angles. In addition, the ability to translate strategy into measurable goals and action is a good skill to have.

What makes a good colleague?
I think a good colleague is someone who takes others into consideration, knows what he/she is doing and is willing to take responsibility.

Why do you like it at HKFoods? What makes you excited at work?
Definitely the food! And the variety of tasks. I'm constantly being given new and interesting challenges at HKFoods. On top of that, the great thing about my job is the amazingly competent colleagues – I’m constantly learning new things from them. They help me feel at home at HKFoods and get excited about my work every day.

What are your working days like?
The great thing is that no two days are the same. My days involve working with different functions and people, both within HKFoods and with different stakeholders and partners. In addition, my to-do list usually includes business analysis and decision making. The focus is strongly on the future.

How is responsibility reflected in your work?
Responsibility is a concept with many dimensions, from social and environmental responsibility to economic responsibility. Food production must be economically viable, otherwise it will go somewhere else. All these aspects are reflected in my daily work. At HKFoods, responsibility is something you do, not something you declare!

What’s your favourite food?
My favourite food really depends on the season, place and company. I like to experiment with different recipes and ingredients. I like to organise wine & dine dinners for friends. Asian flavours have been on the pan a lot lately. But what I really love is cooking freshly caught fish in my summer kitchen at the cottage using a wood stove, gas or charcoal grill. Potatoes from the neighbour's garden, and for example dry-drubbed pork. There’s nothing better!

What do you do in your spare time?
I spend my free time cooking, building and renovating. I like to walk with my dog and to read history and biographies.