At the beginning of January 2022, Tom Lindholm, M.Sc. (Econ.), started in his position as Aalto University Executive Education Ltd’s new Managing Director and Aalto University’s Head of Lifewide Learning.
Lindholm has worked in management and consulting positions in executive education for nearly a couple of decades. From 2012 to 2019 he served as the CEO of Talent Vectia (now Verona Consulting), which specializes in executive consulting. From 2020 to 2021 he worked in a project-specific position as the Program Director of the construction company YIT’s KEKO ecosystem. In addition, he has extensive experience in board work.
Developing companies’ operations and people’s competences has always been central in Lindholm’s career. Over the years, the role of lifewide learning in society has grown enormously in importance.
My personal mission is to help people and businesses develop and grow."
“My personal mission is to help people and businesses develop and grow. This is the best place to carry out this mission,” Lindholm says.
For a long time, he has been worried about the fact that, while industries face disruptions, new professions emerge and work tasks change, the skills of people do not develop at the same pace. “This phenomenon is only accelerating, which means that people need to constantly develop their competence.”
Lindholm himself would like to learn more about sustainability-related issues from a management perspective. “Sustainable development permeates everything we do, and I would like to better understand how it affects leadership.”
He wants to emphasize sustainability also in Aalto University’s lifewide learning offering.
Lindholm works in two organizations but leads a lifewide learning entity covering both Aalto EE’s and Aalto University’s programs and courses. In his opinion, together they form the best competence development portfolio in the Nordics. On one hand the university offers free online courses of top quality, on the other Aalto EE organizes Executive MBA programs and designs and delivers customized training programs for companies for instance.
“It’s important to consider how we build interesting learning paths on an individual level and how we can utilize the top expertise of the academic world in the best possible way when we develop organizations.”
AI is a supervisor for many but does not replace a human leader
Working life is undergoing a transformation and requires fresh leadership skills.
Researchers and experts are largely in agreement that in the future, skills related to human interaction and human leadership will become highlighted in work communities. Lindholm also believes that the remaining tasks that can be assigned to artificial intelligence will be automated at some point.
The only one who can understand a human being is another human being."
He notes that artificial intelligence already acts as a supervisor for many. For example, in many maintenance organizations, machines share everyday tasks, which has traditionally been the work of a manager. The machine optimizes who should go to maintain, who has the most suitable competence for a task, and so on.
“This is based on the fact that what can be optimized and improved with data also uses and utilizes the data.”
The more important AI becomes in everyday life, the more important people skills and social relationships become. The pandemic has shown us how much the absence of simple and spontaneous encounters – such as exchanging a few words with a colleague in the coffee room – has affected people’s well-being. “Artificial intelligence can model us, but the only one who can understand a human being is another human being.”
In fact, Lindholm would not even like to talk about supervisors, but about enablers of success.
“One must be interested and eager to understand the direction in which people want to develop, what is important and what is not, what their strengths and weaknesses are, and how they can be supported in their personal development journey.”
A supervisor must be interested and eager to understand the direction in which people want to develop."
The responsibility of a supervisor is therefore to identify the individual’s strengths and know how they can be utilized and strengthened.
Lindholm believes that the role of leadership is emphasized both in remote work and in the work of the future.
Managers must be genuinely interested in how their employees are doing, respect their colleagues and support their development, despite the channels we are using and place from where we are working.
However, Lindholm considers that there is no one right way to take care of employees or to maintain the sense of community in remote work. Teams and relationships are so unique.
Training programs must meet the strategic objectives of companies
One thing Lindholm attaches particular importance to is ensuring the effectiveness of lifewide learning.
In the field of education, we need to think more and more about how to develop not only individual competences, but also the capabilities of organizations. “If one of these is zero, the end result is zero,” he says. For this reason, he considers it particularly important that Aalto EE’s programs that are designed for client companies respond to the strategic objectives of them.
On his LinkedIn profile, Lindholm mentions that his core values are honesty, respect, and achievement. According to him, in working life it’s important to be upright, discuss, form opinions – and also disagree – as well as be able to justify those opinions.
I want to set goals and guidelines together with the team. In no way do I believe in detail management, people must have enough space."
It is essential to cross the finish line. “It’s important that we don’t just talk and make action points, but really get things done as has been agreed.”
Lindholm himself wants to be a leader who inspires people to improve and see things from different perspectives. “I want to set goals and guidelines together with the team. In no way do I believe in detail management, people must have enough space. The best specialists are usually the ones who actually do that work.”
“I am demanding, but I hope that the demandingness comes in a positive package. We are working together to make things better.”
Managing Director, Aalto University Executive Education Ltd
Head of Lifewide Learning, Aalto University
Tel. +358 50 0474 746