Kekkilä-BVB’s Sustainability, Brand and Communications Director Nina Kinnunen has a broad range of responsibilities: sustainability, communications, brands – and all digital development projects at the customer interface.
“Kekkilä is a household name in Finland, known for high-end growing mediums, plant fertilizers, and mulches that are sold to hobby growers, professional growers, and landscapers,” Kinnunen explains.
“In 2019, our parent company merged with BVB Substrates, and we became Kekkilä-BVB. Together, we are the European leader in horticulture, with customers in over 100 countries worldwide,” she adds.
Kinnunen decided to participate in Aalto EE’s Global Leader program in 2020 to refresh her skills and ensure that she is at the cutting edge in development areas that Kekkilä-BVB is focusing on.
“Networking and gaining insights from other participants were also on my wish list. For me, Aalto EE was an easy choice. It has a great brand and it’s known for its first-rate executive education,” she says.
Great conversations both in-class and online
Kinnunen says she enjoyed both the in-class and online learning experiences.
“We had the best conversations when we were able to meet face-to-face, but online learning had its perks as well. I remember for example attending the Financial Decision-Making module from the comfort of my own living room and our Professor Khaled Soufani from Cambridge University was also working from home. The casual surroundings somehow made asking questions and interaction even easier than in a class-setting,” she ponders.
All our group discussions – both in person and online – gave valuable insights."
“All our group discussions – both in person and online – gave valuable insights. Everyone had extensive work experience and we had an open, sharing atmosphere. I obtained so many new ideas while we swapped stories, both of successful ventures and failures,” she reminisces.
Kinnunen describes the program’s contents as versatile and interesting.
“Every module was rewarding and offered genuine joy of discovery. Learning was exciting and fast because all the topics were so closely linked to my own work. I was happy to find that even an old dog can learn new tricks,” she says with a laugh.
“The professors were splendid, and all the reading material was relevant and current. As most of the topics were very familiar to me beforehand, I thought the program would be more about refreshing my knowledge, not learning new things. I was happily surprised how many entirely new insights I gained,” she remarks.
Kinnunen was especially pleased with the Strategic Foresight module, which she chose as an elective.
Learning was exciting and fast, because all the topics were so closely linked to my own work."
“It gave me concrete tools and models for driving innovations forward at Kekkilä-BVB. The workshop held by Professor Eeva Vilkkumaa was an amazing journey. She used fascinating mathematical modeling to predict the future. I would never have guessed that spending a Saturday studying could be so invigorating,” she adds.
A comprehensive, multidisciplinary package
After each module, participants reflected on all the insights they gained.
“These exercises were surprisingly enjoyable. The assignments were all set in a way that enabled you to link things to your own organization, which helped implement the lessons learned back at work,” she remarks.
“We had strategy work ongoing at Kekkilä-BVB during the Global Leader program, and I was able to bring quite a few new perspectives to our conversations thanks to my studies,” she adds.
The assignments were all set in a way that enabled you to link things to your own organization."
Kinnunen emphasizes that the program offered across-the-board perspective on many relevant topics. She uses digitalization as an example.
“In the Strategic Marketing module, we learned how digitalization is changing marketing. During the Leading Change module, we delved deeper into how the world is changing, and how we can ensure our own organization is part of this change. Finally, in the elective Strategic Foresight module, we looked ahead, exploring what all digital transformation may bring with it,” she describes.
“Put together, it formed a comprehensive, multidisciplinary package that brought important perspective to digitalization and digital transformation,” she continues.
Kinnunen says that she is pleased to endorse the Global Leader program.
“Global Leader was such a great experience, I have been giving serious thought to continuing studies in the Aalto EMBA program,” she mentions.
“I’m happy to say that the program exceeded my expectations and I warmly recommend participating. It gave me a new boost of energy and made me even more passionate about my work,” she concludes.
Since this interview was conducted, Nina Kinnunen has moved to another position (Director, Landscaping and Recycling) at Kekkilä.