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"The Aalto MBA is a great choice for entrepreneurs.”

Celso Khalili, Vili-Walter Lampén and Juri Sipilä

For Celso Khalili, Vili-Walter Lampén, and Juri Sipilä, entrepreneurship is a way of life. They all confirm that the Aalto MBA offers substantial benefits for entrepreneurs.

“When I look at our latest financial results, it is quite obvious that the Aalto MBA program paid itself back during the first year. I can directly attribute our improved performance to the practical tools and lessons that I learned during the Aalto MBA and then successfully applied at work,” says Juri Sipilä, CEO of Convergens Oy, who founded his company nearly 27 years ago.

Celso Khalili, CEO of Bevetrade Oy, established his current company 14 years ago, but just like Juri Sipilä, he has been an entrepreneur for most of his professional career.

“For me, the greatest takeaway was something that I cannot quantify in monetary terms. It’s also something I did not expect at all. I sleep better at night. I feel better about the decisions I make in my company. People have noticed the difference in me both at work and at home: I have a calmer mindset,” Celso Khalili explains.

Vili-Walter Lampén, Managing Director of Transitainer Shipping Oy, is a fourth-generation entrepreneur who has worked for his family company from an early age. He took charge of operations four years ago.

“The Aalto MBA program completely reshaped my approach to leadership and my strategic thinking,” Vili-Walter Lampén remarks.

“My day-to-day decisions are more informed, and my priorities have changed. I am now focusing much more on our people. It has already had a clear impact on our employees: I can see it in their engagement and in how they serve our customers,” he adds.

Juri Sipilä points out that focusing on people has significantly contributed to his company’s improved results as well.

“Out of everything I learned during the Aalto MBA, the People Management module was perhaps the biggest positive surprise for me. It was a real eye-opener. I took the key learnings from this module to heart, and it has made a big difference in my company,” he says.

“In essence, I realized that although we are an engineering company, we are fully dependent on people. The technology is important, certainly, but our people and their well-being are even more important,” Juri Sipilä explains.

Valuable insights from fellow Aalto MBA participants

Celso Khalili, Vili-Walter Lampén, and Juri Sipilä participated in the same Aalto MBA program. They all say that the experience surpassed their expectations.

“Whatever the topic – business model innovation, finance, or strategy – the Aalto MBA ensures that you have ample opportunities to reflect on issues from your own company’s point of view, for example, in the take-home assignments. Every step of the way, you get fresh ideas that you can directly start implementing in your own business,” Vili-Walter Lampén says.

“For me, the thing that really brought everything to life was discussing with the other participants, both in-class and during breaks. All of my most concrete takeaways from the Aalto MBA came from working together with my peers, for example, in the group assignments,” he underlines.

Juri Sipilä notes that the varied backgrounds of the MBA group greatly enriched the discussions.

“We had an international group, with doctors, lawyers, engineers, experts from non-profits and the public sector – and of course, entrepreneurs like us. All in all, a really fantastic and diverse group. I think our differences are what made all the discussions so interesting and rewarding,” Juri Sipilä says.

“With a group like ours, you could always count on getting fresh perspectives,” Celso Khalili agrees. “At the same time, it was interesting to see how people from completely different industries were tackling very similar challenges.”

“Some discussions also led to fruitful business collaboration. For example, one of our MBA peers works in international logistics, and I became his customer. Due to our shared MBA journey, we have something even stronger than a great customer relationship. Even if I am not buying anything, I know I can call him at any time, trust his opinion, and get great suggestions,” Celso Khalili remarks.

A diverse and beneficial curriculum

Celso Khalili, Vili-Walter Lampén, and Juri Sipilä mention many aspects of the MBA journey that left a lasting impact.

Celso Khalili explains that he initially entered the Aalto MBA program with a specific aim to bolster his expertise in finance and strategy. While these areas offered many insights that have already proved beneficial for his company, the program’s biggest impact came from topics that he had not even noticed in the curriculum when he enrolled.

“For me, the Self-Leadership module and Personal and Professional Development Process stood out from all the rest. They were not on my radar, but they turned out to be a life-changing bonus,” he describes.

“Both were such marvelous journeys. They gave so much that it is hard to put into words. In a nutshell, they help you come out of denial, realize all the mistakes that you make, and then help you grow as a person and as a leader,” Celso Khalili says with a laugh.

The Self-Leadership module left a positive impression on Vili-Walter Lampén as well. He also mentions the Business Model Innovation and People Management modules as particularly impactful experiences.

“If I had to pick, I’d say that these were my favorites – but for entrepreneurs like us, every single module was interesting and beneficial,” Vili-Walter Lampén says.

“The Aalto MBA equipped me with essential tools, frameworks, and skills for effective problem-solving. At the same time, I gained a broader perspective on many topics. Corporate social responsibility, CSR, is a great example. There is so much more to it than I had realized, we dealt with at least some aspects of CSR in almost every module. I am now taking sustainable development into account in all the decisions that are made in our company,” Vili-Walter Lampén reflects.

Celso Khalili shares similar sentiments: “Everything we learned about sustainability was truly enlightening for me as well. In the Business Project, I was in a group that focused on the recycling business. It was a fascinating project – and I think it’s fair to say that we did a good job. At least the company that we completed the project for implemented many of our suggestions straight away.”

Juri Sipilä mentions that the Business Project, BP, was an especially important part of his MBA journey.

“I was very lucky, because my own company was chosen as one of the business projects. It was highly beneficial, having a skilled team assessing our strengths and weaknesses and providing recommendations. While many of our BP team’s insights aligned with our internal assessments, the validation from my MBA peers added significant value to our development work,” Juri Sipilä remarks.

“I took the BP report and fed it straight into our strategy process. As a result, we revised our strategy and we have now implemented the majority of the recommendations we got,” he continues.

The MBA requires commitment from the entire family

Celso Khalili, Vili-Walter Lampén, and Juri Sipilä all confirm that they are pleased to endorse the Aalto MBA program to fellow entrepreneurs.

“I believe I was the second oldest person in our group. Looking back, I could have gone for the MBA much earlier – and enjoyed all the benefits it brought to my life longer – but I think I am a good example of how it is never too late to study,” Celso Khalili mentions.

“The Aalto MBA is an excellent choice for entrepreneurs. However, a word of caution: it’s hard work, and it’s time-consuming. As an entrepreneur, I am often pressed for time, but I am also used to being the boss of my own time. At times, balancing the MBA with my existing commitments felt almost like juggling two full-time jobs,” he adds.

Juri Sipilä and Vili-Walter Lampén both concur, echoing Celso Khalili’s sentiment.

“‘I got tremendously much out of my MBA studies, so it was definitely worth all the time and effort – but I did spend a lot of evenings and weekends studying. Support from your family is paramount on your MBA journey. Make sure they know what you’re getting into, and that they’re there to back you up every step of the way,” Juri Sipilä emphasizes.

“The Aalto MBA gave me far more than I expected, but I must admit that the program also demanded much more time than I had anticipated,” Vili-Walter Lampén observes.

“While I was studying, our second child was born, our firstborn started daycare, and our family business was going through some growth pains that demanded my full attention. It is totally thanks to my amazing spouse that I finished my MBA along with the rest of our group. I would not be here without her,” Vili-Walter Lampén says.  

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