Corporate General Counsel at YIT Corporation Juha Jauhiainen has worked in the construction industry for the past 12 years. While combining Aalto EMBA studies with demanding work is always an effort, Jauhiainen had a larger than average share of responsibilities cut out for him: during his studies his employer YIT joined forces with Lemminkäinen in one of the largest mergers to date in Finnish construction history. To top it all off, toward the end of his studies Jauhiainen also invested in a startup and joined its board alongside his day job.
“I had a lot on my plate. The merger, my normal work as General Counsel, demanding EMBA studies, and of course family life with teens active in their hobbies. It may sound surprising, but the Aalto EMBA helped me keep everything in balance. While studying late at night or on Sunday mornings while the rest of the family was still asleep, it cleared my mind from other issues, forcing me to stop and focus completely on the subject I was learning,” he says.
As an in-house lawyer, Jauhiainen has experience spanning a wide array of organizational functions. Internal and shareholder communication, marketing, HR, strategy, leadership, finance – most all of the topics covered in the EMBA were ones he had dealt with regularly in his work for years.
“While none of the subjects taught in the EMBA were new to me, most of them were issues in which I had no formal education. I have always been interested in the bigger picture and I enjoy understanding how different issues connect to each other. It was fascinating studying these topics, gaining a deeper understanding and more perspective,” Jauhiainen describes.
There was theory, of course, but most everything was very nicely tied to practice. I could directly utilize so much of what I learned."
When looking back at his EMBA journey, Jauhiainen says he obtained the greatest benefits from topics he could immediately utilize in real life – and proceeds to list most subjects taught during the EMBA.
“What can I say? The EMBA was highly useful. There was theory, of course, but most everything was very nicely tied to practice. I could directly utilize so much of what I learned,” he affirms.
“Change management, leading people, how to communicate with different stakeholders, interact and effectively collaborate with other people, economics – I learned useful lessons in all of these topics. The broader and deeper business knowledge I gained enables me to better understand different business functions and offer insight beyond my core field of expertise,” he comments.
Jauhiainen brings up the Self Development Process, which spanned the entire duration of the studies, as the greatest positive surprise of his study experience.
“I started the Aalto EMBA with a good idea of what was in store, because I had participated in the Global Leader program a few years earlier. Also, Aalto EE had held a highly useful tailored program for YIT with credits that could be transferred to the EMBA. The only thing I was a bit skeptical about upon starting the EMBA program was the Self Development Process. I wanted hard facts and practical business skills, and Self Development sounded a bit questionable to me. I very quickly realized that my prejudice was entirely misguided,” he remarks.
The broader and deeper business knowledge I gained enables me to better understand different business functions and offer insight beyond my core field of expertise."
“The Self Development Process was beneficial. It taught me for instance how to endure stress much better, and it gave me tools that enable me to achieve results under pressure. I feel it gave a strong base that helps me better put to use the new substance expertise obtained during the EMBA,” he underlines.
Jauhiainen confirms that the Aalto EMBA met his expectations very well. Although the studies were taxing and in many ways it might seem like the timing of his studies was far from ideal, he emphasizes that the Aalto EMBA gave him continuous benefits from the start.
“The merger of YIT and Lemminkäinen was a real life corporate situation where I could directly put into use new skills acquired in my studies. All the communication and leadership skills I gained have been highly beneficial during this substantial change and integration process of two large listed companies,” he notes.
When Jauhiainen’s studies were nearly finished he decided to invest in a startup called Lifthanger Finland and joined its board. He readily admits that the EMBA had an impact on this decision.
“The startup also gave me many opportunities for putting newly acquired EMBA skills into practice – in a completely different kind of context. My studies enabled me to ask broader set of questions than I would have prior to the EMBA,” Jauhiainen explains.
“Although there are vast differences between the world of a startup and my work as General Counsel at YIT, there are certain similarities in all businesses. Change is constant for everyone, and the skills I gained during the EMBA have made me better at my job at YIT and helped on the board of the startup,” he confirms.
Jauhiainen says he is pleased to endorse the Aalto EMBA, and personally would not hesitate for a second to do it again.
“I sincerely recommend the Aalto EMBA. It gave me a broader perspective on business and taught me that you can achieve a great deal in a limited time span. I do, however, urge anyone contemplating studies to have a long honest discussion with yourself to make absolutely sure you are ready to commit to the studies,” he concludes.