"The biggest challenge that you have as a board member is to keep current – ahead of the curve.”
Managing Director, AJAN Consulting
Board Member, Serres
Annika Jyllilä-Vertigans wears two hats. She is an entrepreneur at AJAN Consulting, and a board member of Serres, a family group of businesses in the plastics industry. In the niche market of high quality suction systems for healthcare professionals, Serres is the second largest supplier in the world and the market leader in Europe.
“Serres has always placed a great deal of emphasis on the importance of strategic board work – a lesson learned through experience well before my tenure as a board member,” says Jyllilä-Vertigans. “We are now in the process of entering the highly competitive U.S. market. To me, it seemed like an appropriate time to update my knowledge and skills, and I felt that taking part in Aalto EE’s Board of Directors program was a great way to do just that.”
“Aalto EE has a strong brand and a reliable track record. The professors teaching on the Board of Directors program were of a very high standard, and I found the content and the scope very compelling,” Jyllilä-Vertigans lists the reasons for her choice of executive training. She confirms that on the whole, the program was a very positive experience.
“The content insight in itself was impactful where the program setup covered many key areas. Particularly valuable modules included the sessions relating to strategy work and changing global dynamics, as well as Pekka Mattila’s session on team performance in a board – a highly relevant topic which I don’t think is discussed enough. An unexpected bonus for me was the network of peers participating in the program, many of whom I am still in touch with today.”
“Conversations with highly experienced peers from a variety of fields opened many topics in new ways. Looking at the theoretical frameworks together as well as finding practical applications and scenarios for board work was rewarding. Insights shared in these discussions were a huge bonus,” Jyllilä-Vertigans underlines.
A board member since 1997, Jyllilä-Vertigans says that she sees continuous self-improvement as an imperative – and as such any board member’s responsibility toward the company they serve.
“The current rule of thumb says that a board member’s tenure is five years. And I agree; if you don’t grow, you are definitely done in five years,” she says. “But if you are a person who has a bit more to offer every year, who keeps providing fresh insight and input to the company, then there is no expiration date to your board work. You push it forward,” affirms Jyllilä-Vertigans and reminds that contrary to what some may believe, the board is not just a compliance officer.
“As a board member on a strategic board, you must keep yourself current and ahead of the curve. In order to make the right judgement calls in this ever-changing ‘VUCA’ world, you must be capable of challenging the status quo. Where you may not have the deepest knowledge, it is critical that you have the headlines and that you have the right questions. This program helped me immensely in creating that framework.”
Jyllilä-Vertigans asserts that the program is suitable for a broad range of people.
“For people with experience in board work or aspirations toward it, the program is an excellent way to boost your skills. This said, a lot of the skills taught in the program are applicable to senior management roles alike. If you are in a senior position in operative management, I believe you would find these themes very relevant and topical to your work.”