Short Payback Time: “Lessons can be quickly put into practice at work”

Ville Blåfield

Aalto EMBA participant 
Pauli Torikka, Director, Pulp Raw Materials, UPM, Finland

Pauli Torikka is responsible for pulp raw materials at UPM pulp business. Both his own role and the field in general are changing rapidly. Before joining the Aalto EMBA program, Torikka felt he wanted to gain new tools in strategic thinking, leadership, and finance.

“I’m really pleased my company was ready to invest in this, and I even got to decide on where to study.”

Before deciding to go for the EMBA program offered by Aalto EE, Torikka compared his options. “I wanted to be sure that the invested money and time would pay back. The themes and structure of the modules on the Aalto EMBA program seemed interesting, and have proven to be so in practice. I don’t believe I would have gained the same learning experience somewhere else.”

In addition to Finland, Torikka has worked in Germany and Uruguay.

“The international aspect was a key factor in choosing the right study place”, Torikka says.

“A number of senior-level directors taking part in the program is also beneficial. In a way, you gain free coaching and consultation for your own business problems from professionals in other fields.”

“The program has totally lived up to expectations. Existing knowledge is combined with new information, and lessons can be quickly put into practice at work. The payback time is short.”

Torikka is now nearing the end of his studies.

Combining family life, work, and studying has been hectic and rewarding at the same time.

“It has required self-discipline. I’ve consciously skipped some of my evening engagements, and generally prioritized my time.”

Similarly to many other Aalto EMBA participants, Torikka mentions personal growth and developing personal skills alongside gaining new technical knowledge.

“Growth is a matter of interest also for the employer - whether an employee has the ability to develop, and the motivation and commitment for renewal and learning new skills.”

The studies included carrying out a business project as group work.

“We drew up a growth strategy for a mid-sized Finnish company. It was a great experience, as we viewed a company from the owner’s point of view, with completely different resources, decision-making methods, and business logic at hand than in one’s own work. It made you learn, and was a good opportunity to share external views and good practices from your own sector with others.”

In the fall, Torikka will be heading to Palo Alto in the U.S. together with other Aalto EMBA participants.“It’s a great chance to take part on the lectures with Stanford professors and see the start-up culture first-hand. I am sure I can get valuable learnings that will help my company to drive trans- formation and growth in our business.”

In Torikka’s view, the Aalto Executive Summit has especially highlighted the significance of work culture, which was mentioned in some way or another in nearly all of the lectures.

“What is the work culture like at my workplace, how can it be influenced, how to create a healthy culture in one’s own unit? Work culture has a huge significance in achieving goals, and it is something you cannot simply copy from another company. This leaves plenty of food for thought when returning to work after the summit.” 


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Aalto Executive MBA is one of Europe's leading EMBA programs. The program holds the three most respected university accreditations and is the only Financial Times ranked EMBA program offered in Finland.

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