Kemira Plc’s Senior Manager, Global Sourcing Polymer Joonas Likander enjoys his job in strategic sourcing.
“I am in charge of large raw material procurement contracts for our three European polymer plants. I like the challenge: the contracts I negotiate are typically worth tens of millions of euros and span several years. The best part of my job is when everything clicks and I am able to create contracts that benefit both Kemira and our suppliers,” Likander says.
Likander holds a master's degree in chemical engineering. In the beginning of his career, he worked directly in his own field, but about five years ago he moved to work in Kemira's strategy and business development team.
“I got demanding responsibilities fairly early on in my career. Although things went well and I was commended for my work, I had to put in a lot of effort to figure out things that are basic knowledge for someone with a business degree. Pretty soon I decided to pursue an Aalto MBA degree alongside my work,” he explains.
Peer support and insights from other participants
During his Aalto MBA, Likander focused especially on finance studies.
“I now have an even better understanding of our suppliers’ business environments, which has definitely been beneficial in my work. I comprehend how our suppliers’ decisions may be influenced by how they finance their operations: with their own equity or external funding – and why some suppliers are first and foremost after volume, while others seek steady business, and some only want the best price,” he describes.
“My understanding of derivatives and hedging is also much more extensive, which helps in supplier negotiations as well,” he adds.
Likander says that during the Aalto MBA, he learned a great deal not only from the instructors, but also from other participants.
“Regardless of what we were covering – strategy, HR, finance, or for instance digitalization – there were always several people in our MBA group who could share practical examples about the topic from their own careers. I was positively surprised by how much my study experience was enriched by the discussions we had in our group.”
The Business Project brought immediate benefits for Kemira
Likander has especially good memories of the Aalto MBA Business Project.
The Aalto MBA gave me a new kind of confidence, and the ability to throw myself into different situations."
“The six-month Business Project was a rewarding experience. I got a great team from our MBA group working on a strategic project regarding Kemira’s water treatment value chain,” he reminisces.
“Our project raised a lot of interest at Kemira, and our steering group included top executives from our business segment. I am proud of the work we did: it brought immediate business benefits for Kemira,” Likander emphasizes.
Looking back, Likander says that the Aalto MBA program gave him even more than he expected.
“I certainly got what I set out to obtain: a comprehensive understanding of business. But I also reaped many other benefits that I had not anticipated. They were so plentiful that the business acumen I obtained almost feels like an added bonus, although it was highly important to me,” he ponders.
“The Aalto MBA gave me a new kind of confidence, and the ability to throw myself into different situations: I learned how to give presentations and negotiate even in surprising situations with incomplete information. It’s an extremely important skill in work life,” he points out.
“To top it all off, I gained a marvelous network of like-minded people – and thanks to the Business Project, also clear benefits to my employer.”
Flexibility in the study schedule for a new father
Likander affirms that he sincerely recommends participating in the Aalto MBA program.
The flexibility allowed me to finish the MBA program within my target schedule even though I was a new father.
“You should definitely go for it. It is a demanding program, but doable alongside work as long as you are willing to put in the effort,” he underlines.
“Aalto EE is also flexible when needed. My spouse and I had twin daughters during my studies. Aalto EE modified my study plan so that I was able to complete some of the modules in advance and have room in my schedule around the time of the birth of our children,” Likander remarks.
“The flexibility allowed me to finish the MBA program within my target schedule even though I was a new father – and it also meant that I got to know MBA participants from other cohorts as well."