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.
From practice to frameworks
Anu Tuomola’s career as a lawyer and in leading positions had continued for nearly 20 years before she dived into studying an MBA at Henley. She wanted to prove to herself and to others that yes, also lawyers can excel in numbers, in business and in leadership. However, after graduating, she realized she had gained much more than that.
For Anu, her studies at Henley, were a way to convince herself and the ones around her, that she understands business holistically – from the perspective of strategy, processes, finance, personnel, sustainability and communications. She wanted to be able to contribute more widely in her job than just from the law and compliance angle.
“During my studies, in several instances, I was able to validate things I had already done in practice. Additionally I was able to give them a theoretical framework. Exchanging views and having conversations with fellow students, both widened and deepened many dimensions”, elaborates Anu.
Values and personal development as cornerstones
Broadening the professional horizon and proving to herself that she can lead business holistically were of course the two great things for Anu during her studies. But also, something else became important. “The personal development part of the studies was super good. The exercises taught me self-reflection in a more compassionate way. In particular I understood how important it is for my wellbeing that I can be true to my own values”, explains Anu.
High integrity, commitment and result orientation are the most important things for Anu at work. However, during her Henley time, she also realized that courage to renew, respecting the differences in people and letting colleagues to have space to do their job, are crucial for her as well. Anu feels that to be the best and most motivated version of herself, she needs to be able to share the same values with her employer, her superior and her colleagues.
Anu started in a new role, in a new company during summer and says the learnings from the personal development module at Henley were also embedded in the recruitment process. In her new job as the SVP, General Counsel at SRV Group, Anu works with the new strategy, updated to meet the demands of the changing operating environment. In this work Anu is able to utilize the learnings from the MBA and she also praises her colleagues who are fully committed and striving for results.
Networks bring knowledge and energy
Anu considers networks as being a must have in the fast-changing operating environment. She thinks networks enable renewal and help to avoid blindsides, both for individuals and for companies. Companies can for example find partners to pilot their ideas if their own resources are not enough.
On a personal level Anu considers networks as an asset. With the help of networks Anu is able to develop by testing her ideas, getting new perspectives and having someone to challenge old ways of doing things. There is always someone to ask from when you don’t have the expertise or the time to explore a new area. Additionally Anu thinks networks bring her joy and energy – helping someone brings you a feeling of success.
Climate change and people on top of the list
In the field Anu’s employer operates, the construction business, the biggest challenge is climate change and responding to the implications of it. CO2 emissions must come down and material usage needs to get smarter. At the same time construction needs to start from people and customers’ needs have to be heard.
To be able to respond to the changing operating environment, leaders must be visionary and good in change management.
“We can support efficiency with technology but in addition to digitalization, keeping on the growth path also requires strong people leaders. Leaders need to be able to draw a clear direction and get people excited to join the journey”, concludes Anu firmly and with a smile.
After her studies at Henley, Anu now has a nice toolbox to utilize to be exactly that people leader of the future with a strong business acumen. Not bad at all.