"The program offered an extensive perspective of leadership skills that drive innovations. I gained tools and methods which help to agilely turn small experiments into scalable solutions.”

Päivi Salo
Director, ICT & Marketing, Pohjola Hospital Ltd

Pohjola Hospital Ltd is a private hospital specialized in orthopedics. It is best known for its investments into the patients’ treatment path, swift recovery and customer experience. Founded in 2013, Pohjola Hospital has expanded into a national network with five hospitals.

Director, ICT & Marketing Päivi Salo has a broad range of responsibilities: alongside leading the hospital network’s ICT, she is in charge of developing its chat and phone-based Health Advisor service, in addition to which she is director of marketing.

Salo’s career background supports her versatile scope of responsibilities well. She majored in marketing during her master’s studies, and she has worked at the interface of business and ICT for her entire career.

“Explaining business needs in a lingo that IT grasps has been the overarching theme of my entire career”, Salo says with a laugh.

In 2019, Salo participated in The Certificate in Digital Business Strategy and Innovation Agility program, co-created by Aalto EE and the Stanford Center for Professional Development (SCPD).

The program was exactly what the doctor ordered. It offered a great deal of new ideas and a chance to stop and contemplate what all digital strategy and innovation agility can mean in our context.”

“When I started the program, I had just received new, interesting responsibilities and also freshly started work in the management team. My work was immensely rewarding, yet I was somewhat concerned about how I could keep myself up-to-date with all the responsibilities I had taken on,” Salo explains.

“The Certificate in Digital Business Strategy and Innovation Agility program was exactly what the doctor ordered. It offered a great deal of new ideas and a chance to stop and contemplate what all digital strategy and innovation agility can mean in our context,” Salo ponders.

The six-month program offers participants a broad outlook on newest technologies and platform economy, as well as leadership skills needed to execute innovation initiatives and lead agile organizations. The program includes face-to-face learning in both Silicon Valley and Helsinki. Online portions of the program contain courses, webinars and keynote talks held by professors from Stanford and Aalto University.

“Visiting Silicon Valley was an amazing experience. Stanford University has an exceptional atmosphere, they live and breathe the startup culture there. The teaching was immensely inspiring, and in group work we had one epiphany after another. During corporate visits it was intriguing to see what kind of similarities our own company has with companies in entirely different fields,” Salo describes.

Salo’s best memories from on-campus days at Aalto EE in Helsinki involve excellent instructors, interesting content and rewarding discussions with other participants.

Reflecting on everything we learned together with participants from various industries enhanced my learning and enriched the experience.”

“Reflecting on everything we learned together with participants from various industries enhanced my learning and enriched the experience,” Salo emphasizes.

Salo admits that she was surprised by how high-quality – and demanding – the online studies were.

“The online studies were tremendously rewarding. I gained excellent tools for strategic thinking, for example insights on the different timespans we should consider strategic issues on. These lessons have been very useful in my work in the management team,” she points out.

“The material used in online teaching was first-rate, and the individual, highly relevant feedback from professors made for a very in-depth learning experience,” she adds.

Salo says that she utilizes many of the ideas that she obtained during the program in her everyday work.

“The program offered an extensive perspective of leadership skills to drive innovations. I gained tools and methods which help to agilely turn small experiments into scalable solutions. These lessons have been very beneficial in my work, for instance in developing Pohjola Hospital’s Health Advisor service,” she says.

“The program also acted as a good reminder of the fact that no matter how ardently excited you are about the technology; you should not force things. Everything should advance as agilely as possible, following the needs of the organization and the customers. For people like me with tech background, this was a good wake up call,” Salo continues.

Salo affirms that she is happy to endorse the Certificate in Digital Business Strategy and Innovation Agility program.

“Although there was substantial theory, the teaching was remarkably practical. In every exercise I was able to focus on issues that were relevant for my own work and the development of our organization,” she remarks.

“I warmly recommend participating in this program – and if possible, to engage colleagues from your own organization when you are working with the exercises, so they too can experiment with the highly useful tools,” Salo says.

Certificate in Digital Business Strategy and Innovation Agility