He has been with the ILO since 1996. He served as Deputy Director-General and Executive Director from 1996 to 2010. Since October 2010, he has been Special Adviser to the Director-General of the ILO. Before joining the Office Mr.
Tapiola was a member of the ILO’s Governing Body, representing the Nordic Workers, for five years. He attended his first International Labour Conference as a Workers' delegate of Finland in 1974. In the Conferences 1991-1996, he was Workers' Vice-President of the Resolutions Committee.
Mr. Tapiola worked in Finland as a journalist (1966-1972) and as the Political Secretary of the Minister for Foreign Affairs in 1972. He was International Secretary of the Central Organization of Finnish Trade Unions (SAK) in 1972-1976;
Special Assistant to the Executive Director of the United Nations Centre on Transnational Corporations (New York) in 1976-1978; and General Secretary of the Trade Union Advisory Committee (TUAC) to the OECD (Paris) in 1978-1985. In 1985 he became Information Director of SAK in Finland, moving on to International Affairs Director in 1988 up to the beginning of his assignment with the ILO.
In his professional life Mr. Tapiola has especially dealt with questions of international labour standards and fundamental principles and rights at work, multinational enterprises, the social and labour effects of globalization, technological change and industrial relations, and the social and labour issues in countries in transition.