Johanna Kantokari is an experienced professional in internal audit and controls. For the past two years she has worked as Head of Internal Audit at Kemira Oyj, a global chemicals company headquartered in Finland. Kemira serves customers in water intensive industries, and has operations in 40 countries around the world.
“Our areas of expertise are pulp & paper, water intensive industries & municipal water treatment, and oil & gas. We serve our customers around the world and improve their product quality, resource efficiency and sustainability,” Kantokari describes.
Kantokari recently took part in Aalto Financial Executive program. She says the program drew her attention for several reasons: she was assured good content was in store after seeing the list of instructors, and attending also promised to give her a good idea of what EMBA studies are like, as the program’s study credits can be directly transferred to Aalto MBA or Aalto Executive MBA programs. Aalto’s good reputation and accreditations sealed the deal.
Her overall opinion of the Aalto Financial Executive program? Kantokari summarizes the experience in two words: intense and enjoyable.
“Our group had a very open atmosphere. Participants came from diverse backgrounds and we all shared our experiences and opinions. Everyone’s point of view was valued. We challenged the instructors, and had great spontaneous discussions,” she explains.
Looking back, Kantokari characterizes the program’s content as highly useful, in-depth, and “heavy”.
“Nothing about this program was soft or fluffy. Our studies were intense from start to finish. Nonetheless, it was great fun."
"The instructors were skilled at linking demanding concepts to practice, making the content relevant and our studies gratifying,” she reminisces.
Kantokari asserts that all the topics covered during the program were useful, and mentions for example strategy and financial analysis as particularly valuable subject matters.
“In my previous studies, strategy never held center stage, and I found the topic especially interesting. Financial analysis was also beneficial: I got to brush up on skills I learned years ago while getting my master’s degree. Now that I was armed with years of practical experience, the topic opened up for me on a completely new level,” she contemplates.
However, it was not only about numbers, as the training also included interesting briefings on behavioral economics and influencing people.
“It was invigorating learning about how people behave and how they interpret financial data. After all, people may be biased and it is important to know what kind of pitfalls one can encounter when communicating financial information,” Kantokari observes.
Kantokari affirms that she was able to put a great deal of the knowledge acquired during the program directly into use at work. The program also gave her the opportunity to look into issues in much greater detail and depth than in her day-to-day life.
“Internal audit is a broad line of work. It is essential that we always question whether we are focusing on the right issues."
This program allowed me to take a step back and evaluate my own work and its focus. "
"Every new topic was an opportunity to consider: is this issue relevant for my work? Should it be relevant? This was beneficial reflection,” she remarks.
“I was very pleased with the entire program. In addition to the great teaching and atmosphere, all the practical arrangements went without a hitch. Everything worked as planned, communication was timely, and you always knew what will happen and when, which is something I appreciate,” she adds.
Kantokari underlines that she started the program with high hopes of gaining a great deal. She now assures that the program met and even exceeded her expectations.
“When I invest several days of my time – both working days and weekends – I want to be absolutely sure I reap the maximum benefit. This program did not disappoint. I am happy to recommend it to people working in financial management or people who want to understand how financial numbers come together. It has a lot to offer to participants from organizations of all sizes, and it is best suited for people with relevant work experience in the field,” Kantokari says.