This network gives me answers to almost all questions

Paulina Ahokas, Managing Director of Tampere Hall and a long time expert on cultural life in Finland.

Paula Salovaara, 22.04.2016

Survey by Paula Salovaara, Journalist, Aalto EMBA: Did the Executive MBA change something in your life? This question went to the Aalto Executive MBA cohort 2013, and the answer was “oh yes it did!”

Paulina Ahokas is a long time expert on cultural life in Finland, says she now has an amazing network to call upon when she needs answers. She built the network while studying in the Aalto Executive MBA program.

Ahokas was pregnant with her second child when she applied and was accepted in the pro- gram. She planned, together with the Aalto EE's staff, a schedule that would enable her to gain her EMBA degree in three years. This way she got to study as part of two different cohorts, which suited her curious personality well. One of the greatest benefits of the program is the possibility of really getting to know the cohort members well, she says. “And I am not talking about trading business cards now. These are people I can call any time, and they can call me.”

“Let’s face it. People often interact mostly with likeminded friends, and while at work, they meet people from the same sector”, she says, and points out that managers often need to find expertise outside their own field. In her work, Paulina repeatedly notices that the people around her do not always have the answers to all her questions. That’s when she picks up the phone and calls one of her cohort members.

Benefits: building the network, becoming a better leader while building a broad base of knowledge, and becoming a better leader by understanding herself better were the others."

The Aalto EMBA program had three main benefits in Paulina’s life, all of which she says can be felt in her daily work. Building the network was one, becoming a better leader while building a broad base of knowledge, and becoming a better leader by understanding herself better were the others.

“I needed to upgrade my knowledge to be- come a better leader; not just a team leader, but a manager of multipurpose teams”, she says. Financial accounting, management ac- counting, economics for executives, all had an impact on her. She would like to name every single module, when I ask about her favorite ones.

The psychological side of the studies came as a bonus. “All of us started out the program thinking we would gain more knowledge- based information, and all of us came out realizing it was the psychological side of leader- ship that affected us the most”, Paulina notes. We all need to know how to become a resilient leader and a more emphatic leader, and the modules, especially the Self Leadership process, gave us the tools to learn about this, she says.

If she has to name one specific skill above others, which she acquired during the Aalto EMBA program, it is the skill of concentration.

I need to know how to concentrate, otherwise I keep doing things wrong."

“I need to know how to concentrate, otherwise I keep doing things wrong. ”And did she master the skill of concentration? “I’m not sure my family or even my colleagues would agree all the time, but yes, I can manage myself better now, and I can feel it.”

Paulina Ahokas says she has been the youngest in almost all her working environments during her career, and she has learned to find the information needed for her work. When she started as Managing Director of Tampere Hall, she knew she needed a lot of new information and knowledge. “I needed to learn much more about leader- ship, and I wanted to study in the best program. ”She wanted to start right away, while still fresh in her new position: “It was the best time to learn new things, when I was not burdened by any notions of how things have always been done.”

Looking back at her earlier jobs, Ahokas says in her direct way: “I made so many mistakes. If I had known what I know now, after the Aalto EMBA, I wouldn’t have made those mistakes, or at least I would have tried to do things differently.”

She now knows much better how to handle conflicts and problematic situations, and she knows how to proceed to positive action when a problem has been identified. And when the question is outside her own field of skills, she picks up the phone and reaches for her network. 

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