Susanna Tommila, Cultural Director of the City of Espoo, has taken part in an Aalto EMBA program tailored for the City of Espoo. The program aims to develop the strategic thinking of the city’s top leaders and support their growth. 25 leaders from the city’s different functions are currently taking part in the program.
“I knew most of the participants beforehand, but we don’t have time for in-depth chats in our day-to-day work. I got to know people in my own organization during the program. It’s clear that in cross-sectoral work it is easier to understand the other person’s perspective when you know them and the framework and practices of their work. It’s very enriching. Cooperation is easier when you meet the people behind their titles.”
Susanna Tommila has built her entire career in the public sector. She says she is thankful to be part of a group that is renewing public leadership and creating joint ideas for which direction Espoo should take as part of the metropolitan region.
The director’s task is to enable their work, building partnerships and collaboration across different sectors."
Back in university, Tommila studied art history. Now her work involves taking care of the issues of art and cultural experts, or “foreign policy”, as she calls it. Expert organizations like museums, orchestras, theaters, libraries and event organizations get on with their work independently, while the director’s task is to enable their work, building partnerships and collaboration across different sectors.
“My work in the field of culture takes place close to the customer interface. We don’t work with administration but everything is on a hands-on level, in contact with the city’s residents.”
In culture, work typically takes place in the evenings and at weekends. Now, Tommila’s time is taken up by work activities as well as studies.
“The work involved in completing the EMBA program is huge but it’s rewarding. You seize it with incredible motivation and enthusiasm. I’m eager to learn and increasingly curious.”
Tommila is most familiar with leadership and strategic questions, while economics poses more work. But you get through it all. “Studying as a grownup means you know what is particularly relevant, and what I can apply at work.”
Tommila gives plenty of praise to the lecturers. Some have raised completely new topics, while others have brought new angles to familiar themes. “It can be good to hear something you have declared yourself for years. It confirms one’s own vision.”
The Aalto EMBA City of Espoo group is now about halfway through the studies. “I look forward to what lies ahead. I have a strong feeling that the program is on the right level and with the right people. For once, you can sit in training for three days in a row without thinking that I know this already, I’ve heard this before, why are they asking that… The EMBA is spot on!"