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"The Aalto EMBA taught me a lot about myself as a person and a leader.”

Leena Pihlajamäki
CEO, Founder, Ravenhill Consulting

Ravenhill Consulting’s founder and CEO Leena Pihlajamäki describes her path to the business world as somewhat atypical.

“I studied social ethics at university because I wanted to understand why people behave the way that they do. I have also been very active in various associations ever since my university years,” she explains.

During her versatile career, Pihlajamäki has worked in both consulting and leadership positions. Prior to founding Ravenhill Consulting, she worked as Business Director at Ylva Group, where she was in charge of the hotel and restaurant business and led a staff of 170.

The teaching was extremely high quality and the versatile content very relevant for my work."

At the end of 2021, Pihlajamäki graduated from the Aalto EMBA program. She describes her study experience as tremendously rewarding.

“The teaching was extremely high quality and the versatile content very relevant for my work. Peer support and discussing everything with other participants was almost the best part of the entire marvelous program,” she says.

Switching from the MBA to the EMBA program

“An EMBA or MBA? I pondered this question for quite some time, and it was not an easy choice,” Pihlajamäki reminisces.

Due to her background in humanities, she first opted for the Aalto MBA.

“My MBA studies got off to a great start and I was very enthusiastic – but I soon started wondering if the even stronger leadership perspective in the EMBA program might be more beneficial for me. At the time I was still working at Ylva, and I had P&L responsibility for a turnover of about 17 million euros,” she says.

“Luckily it was easy to change programs. I seamlessly switched to the EMBA program right after the first modules. In the end, this small detour was a good thing. Thanks to it, I got to know all the wonderful people in both the MBA and EMBA groups,” she points out.

Useful insights

Pihlajamäki says that she got more out of the Aalto EMBA program than she had expected.

“The Mergers and Acquisitions module was particularly rewarding. The lessons I learned have been highly beneficial in my current work as a consultant and will definitely be advantageous in the future as well,” she underlines.

“The Financial Accounting and Finance modules also left lasting impressions. Strengthening my theoretical base on these topics was very gratifying,” she remarks.

“The Aalto EMBA also taught me a lot about myself as a person and a leader. I believe that honest self-reflection is a leader’s most important skill,” Pihlajamäki emphasizes.

In the spring of 2020, Pihlajamäki found a lot of use for the tools taught by Ben Nothnagel in the Personal and Organizational Leadership module.

“When the coronavirus hit, nearly 90% of Ylva’s hotel and restaurant business revenue was lost. I worked 70 to 80 hours a week for several months, under enormous pressure. At that time, I returned to lessons that Ben had shared about stress management. His insights were a really big help,” Pihlajamäki acknowledges.  

Strong business expertise and a great network

Pihlajamäki decided to take a new direction in her life at the end of her EMBA studies. Just before graduating at the end of 2021, she founded Ravenhill Consulting.

I am now constantly utilizing the skills I gained from the Aalto EMBA program."

"I am passionate about business development. As a consultant, I get to work with brilliant people and dive into fascinating development projects. I am now constantly utilizing the skills I gained from the Aalto EMBA program,” she mentions.

Pihlajamäki affirms that she warmly recommends the Aalto EMBA program.

“It was an exceptional experience. I obtained a strong theoretical foundation for running a business and great practical leadership tips. I also got a splendid professional network and wonderful new friends,” she says.

“I have recommended the Aalto EMBA program to many people. Although it’s probably not a good idea to deliberately start studies during a hectic life situation, I am living proof that you can thrive in your EMBA studies even if the whole world collapses around your employer’s business,” points out Pihlajamäki, who graduated with honors.

Pihlajamäki has one important tip for anyone considering either Aalto EMBA or Aalto MBA studies:

“Fortunately, I had the chance to participate in the Boston Study Tour before the pandemic. If such an opportunity arises, you should definitely go for it. The Study Tour was an absolutely fantastic learning experience, and as a bonus, you get to network and meet an even wider group of EMBA and MBA participants from other cohorts.”

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