Finnish telecom service provider DNA’s Director of Home Broadband Business Katri Perälä has a master’s degree in automation and system technology, and she has had an extensive career in the telecom sector both internationally and in Finland. Recently, Perälä graduated from the Aalto EMBA program.
“My supervisor and closest colleagues at work got their EMBAs from Aalto EE. I had only heard good things about the program from them, so I too wanted to experience this highly valued program,” Perälä explains.
“When I started the EMBA I had been working in telecom for about 15 years. I tended to focus most of my attention to fixing my business, developing my team and ensuring everything is working well. I felt it was a good time to invest in developing myself – and that doing so would benefit everyone around me as well,” she notes.
Perälä put a great deal of effort into the EMBA program and graduated with honors.
“Graduating with honors wasn’t my goal per se, just a reflection of my eagerness to learn and develop. My employer DNA paid for my participation, and I wanted to get as much as possible out of this considerable investment of time and money,” Perälä reminisces.
Perälä says she particularly enjoyed the EMBA’s versatile teaching methods.
“Simulations, live cases and group works broadened my own thinking and always brought new perspectives to each subject matter. At the same time, they offered an excellent opportunity to observe the different ways in which people understand things and act under pressure. It really affirmed why leading people and communication can be challenging,” Perälä ponders.
During the EMBA you are supposed to reflect on everything you learn and link it to your own practical work experience."
“All the modules had the same excellent structure, but nevertheless each module was its own, unique experience. The professors were highly knowledgeable in their own subjects and visiting corporate speakers brought a nice additional flavor to the topics,” Perälä continues.
Perälä emphasizes that exchanging ideas with other participants was a big part of the EMBA experience.
“Finance, HR, logistics – whatever the subject matter, during the EMBA you are supposed to reflect on everything you learn and link it to your own practical work experience. All the participants at Aalto EMBA are experienced leaders, which makes interaction and learning from everyone else’s experience highly interesting and rewarding,” Perälä highlights.
“As a woman working in the tech field, it was especially rewarding to hear about the challenges of business life from other women. I got tremendously good peer support during the EMBA journey and also felt I was able to support others by sharing my experiences,” she adds.
For me, the greatest personal gain was definitely the in-depth reflection and analysis of my own leadership methods."
Many of the friendships born during the EMBA became even closer during Study Tours to Palo Alto and Boston.
“We had an incredibly fun time together, and the Study Tours were marvelous, unique learning experiences. The Professors from Stanford and Harvard were superstars in their fields. If you decide to pursue an EMBA, you really should try and take part in the Study Tours if possible,” Perälä encourages.
Perälä had one clear favorite subject during the EMBA: The Personal and Organizational Leadership module led by Ben Nothnagel, which launched the entire EMBA journey and also started the Personal and Professional Development Process that lasted the duration of the program.
“For me, the greatest personal gain was definitely the in-depth reflection and analysis of my own leadership methods that forced me to take time and concentrate on myself. The impact of this is now clearly visible, both at the office and at home. I am more present and a better leader – and thanks to Ben, I will never attempt to multitask again,” Perälä remarks with a laugh.
Perälä says that the EMBA exceeded her expectations and affirms that she is pleased to endorse the program.
All of the arrangements were exceptionally well organized, and it genuinely felt like the people at Aalto EE were part of our group and our shared journey."
“I warmly recommend the Aalto EMBA program. If I think about where I was two years ago and where I am now, I feel I have developed tremendously both as a leader and as a person. I recognize my own strengths and weaknesses and I know how to take care of my overall wellbeing. I have shared many lessons learned during the EMBA with my team at work and their feedback has been very positive,” she mentions.
“The staff at Aalto EE also deserves special praise: all of the arrangements were exceptionally well organized, and it genuinely felt like the people at Aalto EE were part of our group and our shared journey,” Perälä adds.
Perälä emphasizes that support from loved ones is vitally important, because the EMBA is an intensive experience.
“If you are in a relationship, you need to make sure you have your spouse’s support. I am very fortunate in this respect; I have an amazing family – I have fond memories of Saturday evenings when I came home after a long EMBA day to find that my husband had cooked dinner and set the table with the kids. All I had to do was sit down and enjoy,” Perälä says.
Since this interview was conducted, Katri Perälä has moved to another company.