Around the world, many companies in, for example, the garment, food, and electronics industries are replacing the plastic used in product packaging with Paptic®, a flexible and recyclable packaging material made of wood fiber. The developer of the material innovation is Finnish growth company Paptic Oy.
Heidi Saxell, Paptic’s CTO, has a PhD in organic chemistry. She has developed her business acumen first in the Global Leader program and soon after in the Aalto Executive MBA program.
“I started my new, inspiring job at Paptic during the Aalto EMBA program. I attended the Global Leader program a few years earlier when I was working at Stora Enso as a Business Development Director,” Saxell explains.
“Everything I learned during the Global Leader program was extremely useful in my work at the time. At Stora Enso, I worked with innovations and the program raised my business skills to a new level. I no longer had to Google the meaning of words when someone was talking about things in financial terms,” she reminisces.
“The Financial Decision-Making module was a particularly rewarding experience. It was beneficial outside of work as well: it inspired me to start analyzing financial reports and investing in stocks more systematically,” Saxell remarks.
Saxell says that the Global Leader program not only provided useful lessons but also boosted her energy levels.
“At the time, I was going through a particularly difficult period in my private life. My studies gave me incredible energy. They were like a breath of fresh air during a challenging phase of life,” Saxell describes.
Soon after completing the Global Leader program, Saxell decided to continue her studies in the Aalto EMBA program with the help of an inheritance from her father.
“Shortly before he died, my father told me that he had wanted to get an MBA, but his employer had not supported him in pursuing his studies. My father passed away in April. In June, I had to decide whether to enroll in the EMBA program. I thought to myself, now I can put this money dad left me to a good cause and invest in my own skills. I started the EMBA program the following autumn,” says Saxell.
Beneficial insights for a new position
Saxell was headhunted to Paptic as CTO during the Aalto EMBA program. She affirms that she has made versatile use of the EMBA lessons in her new job.
“I work primarily with product development and innovation. For instance, the marketing modules were very inspiring and useful for my work. I now see the role of marketing as a strategic function. I have also realized that a company’s R&D activities can be seen in part as a continuation of marketing, because understanding customer needs should also be a guiding factor in research activities,” Saxell points out.
I now also have a better understanding and appreciation of all the areas of business that are not directly under my responsibility."
“As regulation is being reformed, it has been very useful to understand the drivers that guide the market entry of new products. I now better understand, for example, the importance of product differentiation,” she adds.
Saxell emphasizes that she also gained many useful insights for management team work.
“The greatest benefit of the Aalto EMBA program was, without a doubt, the wide-ranging view of business that it offered. Strategic Foresight and Corporate Responsibility are good examples of modules from which I drew numerous ideas for my work. As a member of the management team, I now also have a better understanding and appreciation of all the areas of business that are not directly under my responsibility – and I can strongly integrate my own area of responsibility into our company’s operations,” she mentions.
“I’ve also become aware of how important corporate culture is, and how much work it takes to create or change it. I was especially interested in all the lessons related to corporate culture because Paptic’s work community was an extremely positive surprise for me. Sure, I have worked in good work environments in the past, but I have never before been part of such a fun and motivating work community. We must do everything we can to hold on to our great corporate culture now that we are growing rapidly,” Saxell continues.
The Global Leader program is a great way to start your EMBA journey
Saxell lives in Stockholm and completed the entire Aalto EMBA program from there as distance learning due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The distance learning was excellently organized, and I got to know everyone surprisingly well even though I participated from afar. It was great to notice what marvelous teams could be created from our group – and wonderful to observe how different people excelled in different modules. We came from very diverse backgrounds, but we all shared a strong enthusiasm and drive to learn new things,” Saxell says.
According to Saxell, interaction with the other participants was very rewarding.
“I really admired the lifewide learning attitude of many people in our group. I decided to follow their example and adopt one myself. During the EMBA, I met many people who had a mindset that I genuinely admired. It was inspiring to notice that wow, I would have never thought to approach this issue from that angle. It definitely broadened my thinking,” Saxell underlines.
I really admired the lifewide learning attitude of many people in our group."
“Even though I was not participating in-class, I fully felt like I was a part of the group. I gained a great network of contacts from the EMBA. Fantastic people, with whom I believe I will continue to keep in touch,” she says.
The Aalto EMBA program also increased Saxell’s self-knowledge.
“All my life, I have struggled with the fact that I am often my own worst critic. The Self-development Process helped me recognize that some things I thought were limitations or challenges were not very important,” she reflects.
Saxell says that she warmly recommends the Aalto EMBA program.
“The Aalto EMBA is a lot of work, but it’s broken down into inspiring parts. I personally felt that it was quite easy to fit the studies into everyday life,” she notes.
“For me, the Global Leader program was definitely a good way to start my EMBA journey. It was highly beneficial in my work at the time. Moreover, it gave me a good idea of what the EMBA would require and made me realize just how much I would get out of it,” she concludes.