We are team Ilo: Mia Hoang and Juhana Polso (Ilo is our oldest cat and he rules our household). Mia is the Data Product Owner at First National Bank of Omaha and Juhana is a Senior Business Intelligence Analyst at Valmont Industries. We are both nerds, basically. We are currently living in the United States.
(Note: ‘Ilo’ is a Finnish word and means ‘joy’.)
What and when did you study at Aalto University School of Business?
Mia: Juhana started in Aalto University’s BScBA Program in Mikkeli in 2009 but took a break to do his military service in 2010 and came back in 2011. I started the same program in 2010 and met him in 2011 in the Intercultural Communications class. I still remember declining to join his team when he asked me. I didn’t know then that I would end up marrying the guy.
Juhana: After Mikkeli, I worked in sales and social media marketing for a while, and then both of us went on to combine studies of business and technology through an MBA-MIS dual master’s degree program in the University of Nebraska, Omaha.
How’s your career path been?
Mia: It has been an interesting journey. I always thought I would be in business, more specifically some Marketing position, but I decided to acquire a master’s degree in MIS with a focus on quantitative techniques, and I couldn’t be happier with that decision. Being able to understand the business side and the technology side has been a huge advantage for me, as I’m able to communicate with both areas of the business when previously working as a senior Decision Sciences Analyst, and now as a Data Product Owner.
How did you end up in your current position?
Juhana: During my graduate studies in Omaha, Mia came across a job posting for a marketing internship at Valmont Industries, a global leader in products that support agricultural irrigation and various types of infrastructure. After several interviews, I got the job, and I continued with the firm full time after I graduated the following year. Five years since the start, I’m still with Valmont, but in quite a different role than where I started. With the aim of providing actionable insights to our leadership, my current focus is on market monitoring, research, and business intelligence.
How would you describe the International Business Programme?
Juhana: The International Business Programme is truly an exceptional business education opportunity not only within Finland but globally. Professors who teach in Mikkeli bring a wealth of knowledge and experience from universities across the world. Comparing with my other university experiences, I find that the modular study structure ensures students are more engaged, which is important in a setting where group projects are often a part of the course curriculum.
Mia: It is an amazing program that helped shape me into who I am today. I often get compliments on my presentation skills and understanding of business, and I always tell people it’s all because of the education and training I received in Mikkeli. My class of 2010 had many intelligent and talented students, from whom I learned a lot through our group work and presentations. Looking back, I did not like to have my presentation recorded and analysed at all, but it helped me become aware of my weakness in public speaking, and therefore, train myself to be a good presenter. Being a good presenter is important in any position, because no matter how brilliant your idea is, it will fail if people can’t understand it and see how it can solve their problems.
I also like the 3-week class schedule during which we could focus on only one topic at a time and met a new professor from another country who shared with us his/her experience outside the classroom. I actually decided to go to Omaha, USA for an exchange semester because of the Finance professors I met in Mikkeli who are still teaching at University of Nebraska at Omaha today. That then led to a full scholarship in the form of a graduate assistantship for an MBA and an MS in MIS.