Paula Viikari has worked as Plant Director at Valio’s juice factory for nearly five years. The factory Viikari is in charge of produces all of Valio’s juices and berry soups. The majority of their juices are sold in Finland, where the volume and range of Valio’s products are most evident in the refrigerating display cabinets.
Viikari has a master’s degree in business administration. She had contemplated additional studies for some time before she ended up choosing the Aalto Executive MBA program.
“My work is very interesting, but it is its own kind of bubble and I did not feel like I was in touch with the most current information. I considered Ph.D. studies, but then I found the EMBA program while I was browsing Aalto EE’s website. It seemed like a marvelous opportunity for combining work and studies,” says Viikari.
Viikari carefully assessed various EMBA programs before opting for Aalto EE.
“I participated in information events organized by many different training providers. After that my choice was clear. Aalto EE’s package was so thoroughly thought through and well-organized from the first contact onwards,” Viikari reminisces.
The EMBA studies had practical benefits in Viikari’s work from the very start.
Aalto EE’s package was so thoroughly thought through and well-organized from the first contact onwards."
“As Plant Director I was in a lucky situation, because I could try out everything I wished. I discussed issues with my executive team and we got to work. In one module, for example, we discussed trust as an indicator of workplace well-being. It sounded smart, so we carried out a survey on it immediately. We have the Meaningful Work survey in use from Valio as well, but we went the extra mile,” Viikari says with a laugh.
“For me, the Operations Management module had the most immediate benefits, because it concentrated on Lean and production processes. Valio has Green Belt and Six Sigma, and the ideas I got from the EMBA enabled us to rekindle drive in our operations,” Viikari ponders.
Viikari characterizes the studies as an intensive and all-embracing experience.
“The teaching methods were so efficient that when I now come across a new situation in everyday work life, I frequently find that I have learned about it during the EMBA – and I remember that I have useful material on the issue at hand. I have many great models and tools that I don’t actively remember, but which pop into my mind as soon as they are needed. I also gained extremely beneficial tools that I use on a regular basis, for example relating to problem solving,” she describes.
The teaching methods were so efficient that when I now come across a new situation in everyday work life, I frequently find that I have learned about it during the EMBA."
The EMBA’s versatility was a positive surprise for Viikari. She has a great deal of praise for the other students and the Self Development Process.
“Our group was really excellent. The comradeship was genuine from the very start. Aalto EE had a lot to do with it: the group was steered and managed so well and we were given such good opportunities to get to know each other”, she remarks.
“The Self Development Process was perhaps the most rewarding part of the studies. For two years, I was guided in reflecting on my own work and I received new tools which made it easy to try out new things in practice. It gave me a new kind of self-knowledge and insights relating to presence. I have always been quite effective in my work, but I had a tendency of sacrificing my sleep to get everything done. Now I get more done with less effort and stress,” Viikari points out.
Although Viikari says that the work load of the EMBA felt enormous at start, she did not find the studies strenuous.
“Everything was so systematic and well-organized – you always knew exactly what was in store and what you had to do. The benefits of the Self Development Process could also be seen in my studies. Especially towards the end, I was much more efficient, although the work load had not decreased. I got better grades and no longer studied into the night,” she explains.
The great thing about the EMBA is that everyone can easily take the lessons learned and put them into practice, and thus get new drive into their work."
Viikari says she is pleased to endorse the Aalto Executive MBA program.
“I got more out of the EMBA than I could have imagined. Thanks to the studies, I am more composed and contemplative and I have a more wide-ranging outlook on leadership,” she lists benefits she gained from the EMBA program.
“The great thing about the EMBA is that everyone can easily take the lessons learned and put them into practice, and thus get new drive into their work. You can always reflect on the issues you learn from the point of view of what you are currently doing at work. The studies require discipline and take time, but if you are genuinely interested, I definitely recommend participating,” Viikari affirms.