”I work in a matrix organization with a complex environment. From the EMBA program, I was seeking tools for managing those complexities: leadership skills, strategic thinking, and expertise in the digital age”, explains Anton Yakovlev from St. Petersburg.
Initially, Russian Anton Yakovlev took part in the EMBA program offered by the Graduate School of Management of St. Petersburg State University. Aalto University Executive Education works in partnership with St. Petersburg, and Yakovlev ended up completing some of his compulsory and elective modules in Helsinki and Singapore alongside Aalto EMBA students.
“The Aalto EE modules were extremely useful for me. The programs in St. Petersburg are in Russian and the students local, mainly from St. Petersburg. The Aalto EE programs have an international approach: teachers and participants come from all over the world and people work for global companies.”
I became really inspired by the modules on startups that I even became a business angel for a startup.”
Yakovlev works for Finnish software company Tieto Oyj, which serve customers in the automotive industry, energy sector, public administration, logistics, social welfare and health care, IT… Yakovlev works with Russian oil and gas companies based in the Caspian and Middle East regions, with about half of his work time spent overseas. In his line of business, it is important to quickly adapt to the different ways of working in different cultures.
“In the Middle East, for instance, senior managers have graduated from expensive, western business schools, and the business culture there is one of a kind. People don’t drink alcohol, sometimes turn up 2-3 hours late to a meeting, drink tea, talk business for perhaps fifteen minutes before it’s time for another cup of tea… The pace is busy and very slow at the same time.”
Yakovlev was raised and schooled in western Siberia, far away from St. Petersburg and Moscow. He has two master’s degrees. Education in Russia is of a high standard – especially in natural sciences. “Business skills are thinner and the startup scene undeveloped. MBA programs have begun to consider digitalization only recently. The Soviet times continue to leave their mark on traditions. That’s why Aalto EE programs are useful for Russians; they provide business education of an international standard and everything has global coverage.”
“I became really inspired by the modules on startups that I even became a business angel for a startup. It left me feeling I wanted to do something on similar lines myself. Other particularly useful studies have included modules on leadership skills and lectures on the psychological side, statistics, and marketing.”
Studying business from differing angles provides tools for the larger, more complex whole.”
Although Yakovlev has found individual themes beneficial, grasping the big picture is what he sees as the main advantage of the EMBA program. Studying business from differing angles provides tools for the larger, more complex whole. At times, the studies bring momentary distance from daily routines and you notice how important it is to give yourself time to think – for instance about how to put a strategy into practice.
“Execution is always the hardest part.”
“I work as a regional director in a matrix organization with a complex environment. From the EMBA program, I was seeking tools for managing those complexities: leadership skills, strategic thinking, and expertise in the digital age. I’ve been able to put the lessons into practice straightaway. The EMBA program pushes personal boundaries and opens the mind.”
This story is part of the Aalto Executive Summit 2018 series. Other stories can be found below. Read more about Aalto EE's degree programs.