Jussi-Pekka Erkkola, Vice President in charge of eCommerce and Digital Services at Elisa, paused for a moment when asked what he would like to learn next.
”Do I really have to choose? I’m interested in a bit of everything!”
After thinking for a moment, he sums up:
”I’d like to learn to become an even more multidisciplinary leader with a better understanding of the entire operating environment. It’s something you can never completely master. I’ve studied here and there, which has given me various lenses for viewing organizational activities, but there’s always more to learn.”
I’d like to learn to become an even more multidisciplinary leader with a better understanding of the entire operating environment. It’s something you can never completely master."
For Erkkola, ‘studying here and there’ means he has practically studied throughout his working life: communications at the University of Jyväskylä, digital media at the Media Lab of the Aalto University School of Arts, Design and Architecture, and, most recently, completing the EMBA program at Aalto EE.
His studies have become a natural part of his life, not just work, driven by his curious nature.
For the past twenty years, Erkkola has been engaged in ”digital work” for companies such as Valio, Nokia, K Group, and Elisa. The industry constantly requires an understanding of areas that are only just emerging.
During his studies at Aalto EE, Erkkola’s interest was initially captured by finance and the M&A module, which deals with mergers and acquisitions and their various stages, from transactions to integration. Although he was already familiar with the topics in practice, the studies provided an academic framework that deepened his understanding. This didn’t result in a state of satisfaction but rather fueled a hunger to learn more.
Erkkola echoes the idea of learning as a way to gain new perspectives, providing new lenses for thinking. In addition to his various tasks, Erkkola also chairs the Corporate Responsibility Management Board at Elisa.
“Studies bring different angles, lenses, and perspectives. Different disciplines provide unique approaches to an issue. Continuous learning gives a broad ability to analyze situations and make decisions.”
Another positive aspect of studying while working is the chance to immediately apply lessons to practice. Erkkola mentions the study trip to Yale School of Management during the EMBA program, which offered insights on employee engagement that he could put directly to use upon his return to work.
Balancing studies with a demanding work life is not that easy, often coming at the expense of one’s nearest and dearest. Erkkola praises his family’s support but also notes that sticking to a routine helps. When you get used to studying all the time, it’s part life, not just a specific period. It’s not a big leap to start writing and reading when you’re used to it. On the morning of the interview, Erkkola had already had a coaching session with his EMBA group.
No brochure for continuous learning will tell you what a big part meeting new people plays in the studies."
”No brochure for continuous learning will tell you what a big part meeting new people plays in the studies. Much of the time, it’s about learning together and making new friends in the process.
This is how a curious mind works: In successive sentences, Erkkola talks about maybe taking a breather after his current studies but admits to being ignited by the idea of studying economics, macroeconomics appealing in particular due to its clear nature.
“I’ve already been browsing through economics courses, which would be important even from a general knowledge point of view.”
”Another area I’d like to explore further is scaling leadership, and I’ve been thinking about how to scale good leadership methods in my own organization through coaching leadership…”
Erkkola describes the mindset of continuous learning by quoting Einstein’s famous words: When you stop learning, you start dying.