Marko Hantula’s thesis on the strategic development of maintenance-service product offerings has been chosen as the best Executive MBA Thesis of 2016 by the team of Avance programme managers. Congratulations!
How was your overall experience of working on the EMBA thesis?
In retrospect, doing my EMBA thesis was a fantastic, iterative journey that integrated the areas of business, strategy and management. A lot of reflection was needed over the theme, title and approach. Furthermore, there were changes in my organization and job description during the writing process, which affected the topic and approach. However, right at the beginning of the programme I knew that I would focus on the subject area of strategy in my thesis. This choice was chiefly based on my personal need to grow in the area of strategic management and, naturally, on the benefits of strategic business growth to the company.
What were your central learning experiences?
The EMBA thesis helped me understand how important a balanced and realizable strategy is for a company, as well as how important it is to find and promote the company’s competitive advantage in the market. Viability is an integral part of a strategy, and even a ‘good’ strategy is not good if its implementation stumbles.
I also learned to analyse company operations from a long-term strategic perspective and came to understand how challenging it is to create and implement a strategy in the context of ownership, management and market changes. In the area of management and leadership, my strengths have been in management and execution. My most significant personal learning took place in the area of leadership – in other words, with people – when I learned to engage people in joint activities and to understand how essential it is to do so. All of this taught me calmness and enabled me to develop a vision for my own management and leadership.
What in particular did you learn about strategic management through your EMBA project?
I learned to view strategic management as an entity in which the strategy process is as participatory as possible. The strategy is compiled and developed through a process. Over the course of the process, the staff members also learn from the strategy and commit to it, which makes implementation easier. I understand a strategy more and more as winning logic and as discovery and development of competitive edge. A winning strategy must also be based on the long-term utilisation of competitive ability, which must be pursued systematically.
What are your tips for future authors of EMBA theses?
The theme chosen for your thesis should be challenging – an area in which you want to develop and which benefits you and your company. It is good to examine the topic and content with your supervisor when choosing it and to use the supervisor’s advice in the work. Try to define a key question that you want to answer in your thesis as well as a thread that is easy to follow. Then you just need an open mind to take on the challenge. Good luck!
What is going on in your life?
Everything is just fine. I got plenty of new challenges in December 2016 when I began to work with Valmet Technologies Ltd. In January 2017, I moved to the Indonesian capital Jakarta. Valmet is opening a new maintenance centre here, and I am in charge of the maintenance business and its further development at Valmet Indonesia. My family is moving here in August, and my children will start school here after the summer holidays.
What are your greetings to the Avance network?
I am grateful to my former work supervisor, my thesis supervisor, the entire Avance personnel, my cooperation partners, classmates, and all the fantastic people I met on the way for all the help and sparring. This has been a fantastic, positive and energising journey!
The EMBA programme provided excellent opportunities for creating and expanding networks. My own LinkedIn network grew by hundreds of great experts and managers from different fields. I encourage everyone to create networks during the programme as well as afterwards. Irrespective of your field and task, the challenges in business are alike. Through the network and background created in the programme, all of us now have better chances to discuss and resolve challenges.
Best regards to the entire Avance network!
Head of Services, maintenance services at Valmet Technologies Ltd,
Interviewer: Ari Manninen, Avance Executive EducationTranslated from Finnish by University of Jyväskylä Language Centre / Language Services (firstname.lastname@example.org)