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Dean’s Circle brought influential societal actors to Aalto to explore future leadership

The event was attended by a record number of key stakeholders from business and society.
Kone CEO Henrik Ehrnrooth

The Dean’s Circle organised by Aalto University School of Business brought together more than a hundred central opinion leaders from business and society to explore future leadership.

Keynote speakers included Professor Julian Birkinshaw from London Business School, Kone CEO Henrik Ehrnrooth and Slush CEO Marianne Vikkula. Discussion was facilitated by Vice Dean Kristiina Mäkelä, Executive in Residence Juha Äkräs and Professor Olli-Pekka Kauppila from the School of Business.

Professor Julian Birkinshaw from London Business School

Birkinshaw pointed out that digital disruption makes it necessary to re-examine the issue of leadership. He argued that the firms should foster a culture of decisive action allied to emotional conviction. He emphasized that leadership is about guiding the way, and employees’ proactive participation is crucial in this respect. Birkinshaw also noted that future leadership requires ambidexterity.

Ehrnrooth emphasised that leadership is about providing an optimal context rather than defining content. Context shows the direction through vision, mission, values and strategy. He also used the term ambidexterity and noted that today’s leaders need to be humble, adaptable and curios, as well as ready to change their opinions whilst at the same time holding on tight to the direction they have set.

The notion of leadership as service was highlighted by Vikkula and she described herself as a guardian of culture in terms of leadership. Leadership at Slush is based on both full responsibility and freedom. She further stressed the importance of collective ownership and doing things together – “Ego is the enemy”.

The host of the event Dean Ingmar Björkman highlighted in his opening speech that solving real world challenges is a central part of education at the School of Business, and he emphasized the role of collaboration with businesses and other organisations. Björkman also thanked the School of Business’ partners and supporters for their input with regard to the School’s development as part of Aalto University. He concluded with an overview of the School’s move to Otaniemi in summer 2019 and emphasized that also in the future the School of Business is built on collaboration with important partners.

Dean Ingmar Björkman

At the end of the event students from the School of Business presented Aalto University’s student-driven start-up activities and discussed their studies with the guests.

The event was held on 3 October. Dean’s Circle is a cooperative network for Aalto University’s important stakeholders and donors. Dean’s Circle offers a multidisciplinary community and a unique meeting point for the university and central opinion leaders from society.

Photos: Anni Hanén

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