My Story: Margit Suurnäkki: ”I’ve always wanted to do postgraduate studies. At Aalto EE, I can study while working.”

Aalto Executive DBA candidate Margit Suurnäkki recently returned to Finland after her posting in China.

28.01.2015

Here she talks about some of the turning points of her career, and why she has wanted to study throughout her working life.  

1990s / Tieto

Margit Suurnäkki works as a product manager at a subsidiary of Tieto in Espoo.

”I managed a software development team, overseeing the entire lifecycle of a new financial management solution. We had a brilliant team. I learned to manage and give enough space to people smarter than myself. The distribution of tasks worked well: one aced the technology, another knew all about testing and instructions… I did whatever others didn’t. We were all eager to develop new things.
I had studied management and organization in Tampere, but continued to study at Open University. What a wonderful place! I was interested in languages, and ended up studying French and Greek.
Studying has always been my thing. I remember carefully reading through the course programs of evening schools to find out what’s on offer.”

“Working life requires all sorts of skills. A M.Sc. in Economics provides a solid educational background, you learn the ropes at work in practice, and the rest has to be found somewhere else. Learning keeps the mind young and is really rewarding.”

2000 / Accenture

Suurnäkki is appointed as Senior Manager at Accenture, where she ends up working as a consultant for just over six years, including a one-year project in Switzerland.

”An opportunity to work with global companies and see how they operate was a major move.  I was involved in large-scale enterprise resource planning with multi-international teams. I appreciated Accenture’s extensive pool of experts, which gave access to a global competence network. Information on what had been done before was available on databases, making it always easy to find the right expert. You received answers immediately.”

“I carried on studying at Open University. I wanted to keep learning and took basic courses in different subjects, such as Finnish literature, media and communications, political sciences, and creative writing.” 

“I’ve managed to prioritize studying by leaving out something else, which has probably also helped me draw a line between work and leisure time. My mind is in constant need of stimulation and challenges. I study on my own terms, for my own pleasure. Studying helps to see the bigger picture, and allows to reflect on different issues and their interconnections.”

2006 / Kone

Suurnäkki transfers to Kone. She works for Global Development in Espoo, Brussels, and Shanghai  e.g. as Head of Process Solution Team Maintenance, and Head of Global Development China.

”I transferred to Kone during a really interesting phase, when the company was in the process of turning from international to global. I’ve moved on according to each task at hand, and although my career path hasn’t necessarily seemed so determined at the time, in my CV it all looks surprisingly logical. At Kone, I’ve had the opportunity to work in global units. It’s great to work with people from all over the world.”

“China made me see the good sides of European and Nordic management culture. Although China is such a dynamic market, people there value stability, security, and a respect for the individual. In recruiting new people, I noticed how being a family-run business arouses trust, even in the case of a company as big as Kone. One of my tasks was to develop my team to raise followers and make myself replaceable. China also taught me that work is really fun. My team worked hard and grabbed every training opportunity. People there strike a good work-life balance: good food and spending time together are valued. It’s something I would have wanted to bring back home as a souvenir.”

“Our team in Shanghai had a really strong bond. We had a shared goal and strived to reach it. We spent a lot of time together, deciding in chat groups what we’d do in the evening. In Finland, it’s more often the case of a bunch of individuals working together. Whether that’s independence or sometimes even a case of loneliness is another question. In China, I studied the language in my spare time. I moved back to Finland in autumn 2014, and now carry on studying.”

“I’m currently taking part in the DBA program at Aalto EE. I thought that as I seem to study all the time anyway, I might as well complete a bigger entity. I also wanted to make use of my existing work experience: I’ve gained a great deal of insight into how a global company is managed and developed, and how this can be supported by information systems.”

“The DBA program felt right for me, as I’d always wanted to complete postgraduate studies, but other options seemed challenging to combine with work. I saw a leaflet of the new Aalto Executive DBA program, and it seemed to suit my current situation perfectly.”

“The DBA program can be completed as long-distance studies while working, which requires self-discipline. Meeting face-to-face is extremely important. The group provides peer support, reminding of shared goals and spurring each other on.”

“I’ve set a goal of three years for completing the program. The initial stages involve immersing oneself in the subject through reading, gathering information, and planning. At the same time, you learn critical thinking. I’m still specifying my exact topic, but it deals with global operating models. After my experiences in China, I’ve been interested in the issue of where to draw the line between global and local.
Having always studied while working, taking part in the program feels natural. Studying broadens one’s view of the world and stretches one’s thinking.”

Aalto Executive DBA candidate Margit Suurnäkki is Head of CTO Office at KONE. She has M.Sc. Economics in Business Administration from the University of Tampere.

Currently reading: Aalto Leaders' Insight: My Story: Margit Suurnäkki: ”I’ve always wanted to do postgraduate studies. At Aalto EE, I can study while working.”

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