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Mario Ascencao

Mario Ascencao


Principal Lecturer in Experience Design and Imagineering

Service Design Network Accredited Master Trainer and Certified facilitator of  LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® method

Sitting one afternoon with Dr. Mário Passos Ascenção, a variety of well-considered ideas and insights come thick and fast as he speaks, with each concept that is being discussed linking with ease to the next topic of conversation. A lecturer in many disciplines and the former co-ordinator of the Degree Program in Experience and Wellness Management at Haaga campus, Mário can be found lecturing in Service Design or Quality Management in Service Business for the eMBA Programme in Service Excellence.

“My key expertise is in marketing, but my focus recently has been in service and experience design, quality and sustainability,” he explains. “I’ve been teaching courses for master programs and bachelor programs here in Finland for over fifteen years. Also, in the past decade, I have been a visiting lecturer in the Master in Wellness and Spa Service Design and Management at Parnu College, University of Tartu, and in the Master in International Tourism Management at Vilnius University.”

In the past years, a significant part of his time has been dedicated to projects, such as The Box, which was the PRO2018-winner for best innovation in the restaurant industry.

Drawing on such a broad range of experience, Mário perceives the eMBA Programme in Service Excellence to provide a mix of academic discipline and practicality for each of its participant in a variety of manners.

“One of the strengths of the eMBA in Service Excellence comes from the diversity of topics within this service domain. It’s an interesting portfolio. It definitely is appealing. Furthermore people can immediately apply what they learn in this programme in their companies, which is remarkable.”

Interestingly, when discussing the issue of service excellence in the current age, Mário believes that we also need to look to the past, as well as the present, for inspiration. “Very few people have the patience to read material that is a few decades old,” he explains. “If you ask someone to read something from the 1970s, 1980s or 1990s, they would say it is outdated. I find that to be nonsense! Amazing things have been written back then that can still be relevant today just as well as what’s produced now. People tend to ignore that many of the management issues of the past are still unresolved today. So, we need to connect with the great management minds of the past as it provides a baseline for evaluating the extent of change in management over time, and assists us all to think about how supposedly ‘new’ management practices really are. I like the classics.”

With this in mind, Mário appraises the current climate of service provision, and its increased prominence in a vast number of fields, with a succinct observation.

“‘Quality is free’ as Philip Crosby wrote, and as the competition gets fiercer, only those who embrace creativity and designerly ways of searching for excellence will survive and develop.”

Text by James O'Sullivan