Alumni of the month is a news series of interviews where we feature Henley Business School alumni from various fields of business. In the interviews, our alumni share what were the most important lessons they learned during their studies and how studying at Henley has impacted both the career and personal life. In addition, you will also get insights on what are the keys to success in each alumnus’ field of business.
She believed she could, so she did
Self-limiting beliefs can play a major role in life. But so can overcoming them. Johanna Kettunen graduated from Henley in 2020 and wants to share her own story with us. Johanna’s path is maybe not the most common one, but it surely is inspiring.
For a long time, until the age of 35, Johanna had a strong self-limiting belief that she was not intelligent enough for academic studies, to be a student in the university. However, she started to feel increasingly eager to educate herself more while in a demanding position at work. Luckily, this feeling was so powerful that Johanna applied to study an MBA at Henley Business School.
When she was filling out the needed paper work, she ran into a question about possible learning difficulties that they would need to consider at Henley while providing the classes and education. This question was a critical one, the one that made Johanna get tested for learning difficulties.
The tests revealed that Johanna has dyslexia. “One of the biggest reasons behind my belief about not being clever enough for university was actually my undiagnosed dyslexia”, she explains. Henley Business School supports students with specific learning difficulties and this combined with the support and inspiration from an amazing group of people in the study team, helped Johanna to complete her studies.
Learning about yourself
Johanna says she has been curious and highly interested in communication and interaction for as long as she can remember. Prior to her studies at Henley she had taken courses in Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) and through that got further interested in personal development. Developing management and leadership skills through the Henley MBA studies was the next phase.
“I wrote my MBA thesis study on strategy and organizational culture alignment, focusing especially on the management culture and leadership styles to support the growth and innovation of the company. Organizational culture and leadership development are very close to my heart and significant drivers for me in my work as Agilist at Siili Solutions Oyj and as a trainer at Siili Academy”, elaborates Johanna.
Johanna describes the studies having been a journey that encouraged and forced her, in addition to personal development, to also develop time management, prioritization, and problem-solving skills.
Networks are the key
Johanna is convinced that networking is a superpower. Whether seeking new business opportunities, knowledge-sharing, mentoring, sparring or a new book club, it is a richness to have a network of professionals with a variety of competencies from different business branches.
“Interdisciplinary interaction enriches thinking, creativity and gives well needed new perspectives”, she says with enthusiasm.
Johanna has a firm view on the winners of the future. She states that in practice “every business is a digital business” and customer demands are changing fast. This is the last moment for leaders to double check that their organizational culture and leadership style are enabling the change, not hindering it. The businesses with a continuous learning mindset combined with curiosity and adaptability are most likely to be the leaders in their market. That same mindset has brought her far.
“During my first trip to the Henley campus ‘She believed she could, so she did’ became my new motto and self-fulfilling prophecy. That motto has stayed with me, and it cheers me to pursue my dreams and believe in myself”, concludes Johanna with a shining smile.