"I wanted new skills and a change in mindset to make my transition into sales a smooth one, and that’s exactly what I got.”

Miikka Åkerman
Enterprise Architect, Workday

Miikka Åkerman works as an Enterprise Architect at Workday – a U.S. headquartered company specialized in enterprise cloud applications for finance and human resources. Workday is especially well-known among tech professionals for its high rankings in several Best Place to Work awards.

Åkerman credits the Aalto MBA as a stepping stone that led to his new career as a part of Workday’s sales team.

“I had worked for a number of recognized, successful companies in both consulting and expert roles, specializing for example in SAP. While those years were highly invigorating in many ways, I reached a point in my career where I felt I wanted a new direction,” Åkerman explains.

“A leadership position was not my aspiration, what I wanted was to make a horizontal move to sales and work closely with customers,” he adds.

Åkerman had seen colleagues struggle with similar career moves and knew the transition could be challenging. Thus, he decided to pursue an MBA degree at Aalto EE to ensure he would be well prepared.

“I looked into both Aalto EMBA and MBA programs and quickly saw that the MBA program was definitely the best fit for me,” he says.

“The Aalto MBA has a great deal of in-depth discussions in class, which are followed by assignments that help you reflect on everything you’ve learned. This sounded very appealing, because I knew this would be a spot-on combination for my learning style,” he states.

I am now able to justify large, complex transformation projects in financial terms, and convey the value we create in a way that resonates with decision makers."

As Åkerman had a very clear career goal in his mind when he started his MBA, he also had a clear goal for each module of the studies: to concentrate on reflecting how the knowledge he gained would make him better at sales. He says one of the most pivotal lessons for him was learning the lingo of finance.

“It is the language that top management speaks, and fluency in finance is an essential talent for anyone wishing to succeed in sales,” he notes.

“Back when I worked in consulting and as an expert, communicating with other experts was always easy, but talking with top management was harder – we simply did not share the same language. This changed dramatically with the MBA. I am now able to justify large, complex transformation projects in financial terms, and convey the value we create in a way that resonates with decision makers,” he describes.

In addition to finance modules, Åkerman names strategy and HR among his favorite subjects during the Aalto MBA.

“While each and every module was beneficial – and we had terrific instructors – insights related to strategy development and human capital were fundamental in broadening my outlook,” he ponders.

“A good sales person is above all a good team player. Although my years in consulting and as an expert had taught me a lot about business, those positions always had me looking at things as an outsider of sorts, from within my own bubble. Today, I am much better at seeing things from everyone’s perspective,” he says.

Insights related to strategy development and human capital were fundamental in broadening my outlook."

Åkerman points out that in addition to expanding his knowledge of business, the Aalto MBA also gave him a great network and taught him a lot about himself.

“We had a marvelous, tight-knit group from diverse backgrounds. We learned a lot from each other, and we all supported each other along the way. I made some really good friends, and I gained an amazing network for life,” Åkerman remarks.

“To top it all off, the Aalto MBA’s Self Development Process gave me tools and skills that further eased my career transition,” he adds.

Åkerman emphasizes that although the Aalto MBA is often primarily seen as a springboard to leadership positions, it also has a lot to offer to professionals hoping to make horizontal career moves.

“I wanted new skills and a change in mindset to make my transition into sales a smooth one, and that’s exactly what I got,” he affirms.

Åkerman notes that while his switch to sales also increased his income, his greatest reward is working in a role that he finds thoroughly interesting – and thriving in it.

“Thanks to the Aalto MBA, I now have a significantly broader and more in-depth understanding of business, which is a huge benefit in my new line of work. Workday is growing fast and I am enjoying my job as a part of the sales team immensely. I am happy to recommend the Aalto MBA,” he concludes.

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