"Executive HR provided a welcome opportunity to reflect on how strategic HR can drive organizational transformation in a rapidly changing, evolving environment”

Anne Lappalainen, Kirsi Rechardt and Tommi Saikkonen
Executive HR

Executive HR provided a welcome opportunity to reflect on how strategic HR can drive organizational transformation in a rapidly changing, evolving environment.

Kirsi Rechardt, Anne Lappalainen and Tommi Saikkonen participated in Aalto EE’s Executive HR program in 2019. They affirm that the program enhanced their HR leadership skills.

All three have considerable experience in HR. Saikkonen works as Caruna’s Head of Human Resources, Lappalainen as Head of Human Resources at the City of Helsinki’s Urban Environment Division, and Rechardt as Head of Human Resources at OSM Aviation.

Saikkonen emphasizes that HR is first and foremost a service function.

“If you are not at the table, you are on the menu. HR’s sole justification for existing is bringing added value to the business,” he says and mentions deep partnering and learning agility as key talents HR professionals need to master.

Rechardt, Saikkonen and Lappalainen say that the Executive HR program provided a welcome opportunity to reflect on how strategic HR can drive organizational transformation in a rapidly changing, evolving environment.

The program allowed us to take a step back and look at the big picture – the underlying theoretical frameworks – instead of focusing on what is next on the agenda.”

Daily issues tend to fill your schedule in HR. The program allowed us to take a step back and look at the big picture – the underlying theoretical frameworks – instead of focusing on what is next on the agenda, Lappalainen remarks.

”The program offered fresh perspective on how ongoing trends like digitalization and changes in the labor market are affecting strategic leadership and the pressure put on human resource management,” Lappalainen adds.

Saikkonen points out that the program drew together fractured information about ongoing change:

”The instructors gave us a first-rate analysis of the operational environment, which put things into perspective,” he notes.

Rechardt describes both the content and instructors as excellent. She also asserts that the program acted as a reminder of how important it is to align HR with strategy.

“Everything we learned was relevant and thought-provoking. For me the key payoff was the outlook provided on the future of work,” Rechardt says, and mentions that alongside great content, the program also offered a marvelous opportunity to learn from other participants and the best practices used in their organizations.

Everything we learned was relevant and thought-provoking. For me the key payoff was the outlook provided on the future of work.”

Hearing about how other organizations have tackled HR challenges – and reflecting on how their solutions might work in different contexts was highly beneficial, Rechardt explains.

Executive HR is arranged as three intensive on-site learning modules with several weeks of assignments, and individual and group study in between. Participants get to know each other quite well, and Rechardt, Saikkonen and Lappalainen confirm that ideas were shared very openly in the group.

The HR leaders attest that the program’s takeaways – evidence-based knowledge, theoretical framework grounded on the latest research findings, and relevant practical tools – will be put to good use.

”Strategic business partnership between management and HR is a highly topical subject for the City of Helsinki. I gained very concrete ideas on how to advance this aspiration,” Lappalainen says and underlines that the program has a great deal to offer to public sector participants.

Saikkonen explains that he is already utilizing ideas obtained from the program in ongoing development work at Caruna.

We are further developing our competence management system. The program gave me both practical tools and food for thought for advancing this work, Saikkonen says.

Lappalainen, Saikkonen and Rechardt concur that many HR leaders share a common fault: forgetting their own well-being and development.

This program also helps HR leaders manage themselves.“

“Hectic work life does not often leave time for self-development. This program also helps HR leaders manage themselves,” Rechardt emphasizes.

“It is imperative in our field to keep ahead of the curve, but far too easy to neglect your own competence development while you concentrate on others,” Saikkonen admits.

”The program was a good reminder of how important it is to first put an oxygen mask on yourself. The Executive HR program gave me new self-awareness and definitely played a part in my decision to take a break from work life and concentrate on learning,” says Rechardt, who recently enrolled in the Aalto Executive MBA program.

Executive HR