UCEM Property Awards 2020 – Our Academic Excellence nominees: Aino Kavantera

Posted on: 7 October, 2020

We will be hosting the 33rd UCEM Property Awards on Thursday, 15 October. Due to COVID-19, we will not be able to hold this in person but we will be sharing videos and announcements throughout the day on our social media channels to celebrate the achievements of our nominees and winners.


The event will see a sixth person receive our Academic Excellence Award since it was added to the Property Awards in 2015.


The Academic Excellence Award recognises the academic excellence and quality of a student’s research/dissertation submission.


In the lead-up to 15 October, we will be profiling each of the nominees for this Award. We have looked at Philip Goldstone’s, Laura Millican’s, Jasmine Walsh’s and Rob Sumner’s nominated dissertations, and next, we feature Aino Kavantera and her project on Agile Working in Hong Kong.


Aino Kavantera

Aino is a design and planning leader with over 20 years of experience in the Built Environment sector and is currently a Studio Leader for the international architectural and interior design practice, PMDL, overlooking Hong Kong Studio operations.

Having lived in Finland, the UK, the Netherlands and Hong Kong, Aino offers a distinct global perspective to her work. She has a keen interest in understanding the relationship between spaces and behaviour, particularly in relation to cultural constraints and sensitivities in different geographic regions.

As part of her MBA in Construction and Real Estate programme at UCEM, Aino studied agile workplace behaviours in Hong Kong, achieving a Distinction for her work. Aino’s dissertation was subsequently developed into an academic research article that was presented at the Transdisciplinary Workplace Research Conference 2020 in Frankfurt, Germany.

Aino continues to carry out further workplace research on an ongoing basis with a research team set up by UCEM.

Commenting on her nomination for the Academic Excellence Award, Aino said: “It was a great but pleasant surprise for me to receive a message on the nomination – I certainly wasn’t expecting it!”

Discussing her time studying with UCEM on the MBA programme, Aino added: “I opted for a slow route due to a lot of life happening alongside my studies, including becoming a parent as well as working full-time throughout the course. I also had a very supportive employer, which was a great help, as sometimes there are a number of deadlines to juggle both at work as well as at university.

“I found that UCEM’s online learning mode allowed me to balance all my commitments with greater ease, so it suited me well. Studying while working takes some commitment, patience and perseverance, but it is all worth it at the end. What you learn along the way is truly eye-opening.

“Through UCEM, I recently had an opportunity to join a Workplace Research Conference in Germany, where a number of researchers and scientists presented their findings on what impact workplace and our ways of working. With so much knowledge in a room, this was a very unique and inspiring event to be part of.”

What tips does Aino have for others embarking upon their dissertation projects? “I had a pretty interesting research topic so I found the research process fascinating,” Aino said. “My top tip would definitely be to pick an area that you have a genuine interest in, as it makes the project much more worthwhile and meaningful to carry out!”

As for the future, Aino stated: “I look forward to furthering and applying my knowledge on workplace behaviours both as a practitioner as well as through research. We are living through pretty unique times right now, which is bound to have an impact on the ways that we use our future workplaces too. This makes workplace design and research hugely topical and relevant, and an exciting area to be involved in. ”

Thanks for sharing your story, Aino, and all the best for the Awards and your continued career progression and research!

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