Childhood dream – and then something else
This time our alumni spotlight story touches not only human beings, but also our animal friends. Susanna Peiponen graduated from the Henley Executive MBA last year, she is the Director of Partner and Customer Experience in the Finnish animal pharma company Vetcare.
However, earlier on in her career, Susanna worked as a practicing veterinarian. No wonder her Management Research Challenge (MRC) topic came from the veterinary field.
In her MRC, Susanna focused on one of the biggest challenges currently seen in the veterinary field, the difficulties of maintaining a healthy work-life balance and the extremely high risk of burnout for veterinarians especially in their early career.
“I especially wanted to study the role of self-reported resilience as a protective factor against burnout for Finnish veterinarians in their first years in practice”, explains Susanna.
Like for many of her colleagues in veterinary medicine, a career as a veterinarian was Susanna’s dream job as a child. For the first 25 years of her working-life she spent pursuing that dream.
“It was quite a surprise and somewhat of an experience of personal growth when I realised that I found motivation and purpose not only offering hands-on care for animals but working with a more broad sense of animal wellbeing and focusing on human interactions”, explains Susanna.
The pandemic taught resilience
Susanna is happy that she jumped into her Executive MBA journey and started exploring different angles during her studies, as it then inspired her to choose her MRC topic. Susanna’s studies were mainly done in times of continuous uncertainty due to COVID-19 and she came to understand her greatest assets, strengths and trigger points. She realised that one of her most important strengths is her resilience in times of adversity.
Susanna feels that the studies were the pathway needed to understand her true self in a leadership role. Like for most of the Henley alumni, also for Susanna the biggest learnings were on the areas of self-development and reflection. Susanna of course had fellow students from various backgrounds and fields of business. Against her expectations, it wasn’t hard to find joint solutions.
“The challenges and possibilities were very relatable, only seen from different perspectives”, says Susanna.
The learning journey really was quite out of the ordinary as the global pandemic was on. After having crossed the finish line in those circumstances, Susanna feels confident, no matter what.
“I feel that after balancing a full-time job in a growth company, ambitious studies and family life during the crisis that the pandemic raised in every aspect of life, there are no mountains left that I could not conquer! This journey proved to me what I can accomplish if I have determined something. I believe that the sense of perseverance or “sisu” I gained, lead me to trust my decisions and goals in life”, summarises Susanna.
After her studies, Susanna was offered her current role and she firmly believes that having the possibility to study in the international cohort of the Executive MBA prepared her for the role.
Success – what is it?
When asked about what is success in today’s work life and career, Susanna points out that first it needs to be defined, how one sees success.
“For me, success comes from the balance in my own life. People are entities and need different things in their life that nurture wellbeing”, says Susanna.
We all know that speed of change is accelerating all the time. Susanna thinks resilience and curiosity towards new are most likely to help people with this.
“What I found interesting during my studies was that you are able to enhance your own resilience with different techniques and you can actually see a positive effect on self-perceived resilience!”
So, to sum it up, defining your own criteria for success is key. And human interaction – people need other people. Susanna is doing as she preaches: “I volunteer on mentoring young people entering work life”, says Susanna with a big smile.
Read our other Alumni in the Spotlight interviews.
P.S. Have you already familiarised yourself with the Henley Student and Alumni Mentoring Programme? The programme is accessible through Henley Live. If you have not registered to Henley Live yet, signup here.