Executive MBA adds confidence in leadership role

26 June 2023

When Joakim Lindholm took the step up from the role of Sales Director to Managing Director at Altair Engineering AB, his Executive MBA education from the School of Business, Economics and Law at the University of Gothenburg made a difference. He says, “The programme gave me a solid foundation that helps me manage the wide variety of situations, questions and issues that I have to deal with in this role.”

In 2012, after several years of working as a highly skilled engineer, Joakim Lindholm accepted a job at Altair that was mainly sales focused. This led to a growing interest in business, entrepreneurship and leadership, as well as to thoughts about an advanced, complementary business education.

“I wanted to broaden myself and improve my leadership skills to be able to take on more strategic tasks and more overall responsibility. Altair develops world-leading software for physics-based simulation and AI. Physics, mathematics and technology are key to our business. My Master of Science in engineering background is very important. However, I lacked a theoretical framework and a clear understanding of how all the different parts fit together when leading and running a business.”

Better collaboration
In the autumn of 2016, Joakim Lindholm started his Executive MBA programme at the School of Business, Economics and Law at the University of Gothenburg. At that time, he worked as Area Sales Manager. When he graduated in the spring of 2018, he was promoted to Sales Director and, a year ago, he was appointed Managing Director for Altair Engineering AB. The company has around 55 employees in the Nordic region, a turnover of approximately SEK 130 million and business responsibility for the Nordic and Baltic countries.

“When I started as Managing Director, it was vital to have the solid foundation that the Executive MBA programme provided. It has definitely helped me. In this role, you deal with a wide range of situations and issues. Thanks to the programme, I can have a good dialogue with experts in legal, finance, HR and other functions that I interact with on a daily basis. I know what questions to ask, what I need to keep an eye on and what I don’t need to worry about. I have an understanding of their tasks and that makes it easier to achieve effective collaboration.”

Academic nature provides structure
The academic nature of the programme was stronger than Joakim Lindholm had expected. At times, he experienced this as somewhat burdensome, not least when it was time to write the thesis. However, throughout the course of the programme, his perception of the academic content changed.

“During the programme, the academic theoretical parts could feel quite abstract there and then. But the fact is that they provide a structure that makes it easier to apply knowledge in the real world as a business leader. I have often reflected on the thesis project, which at times felt very academic, and realized that it was most developing. It provided experiences that have proven very helpful. The thesis work included interviews with ten high-performing CEOs, who shared their experience of managing specific situations, as well as their more general thoughts on leadership. The whole process was very rewarding, and I realize that the academic nature of the programme really provided a solid framework that helps me to structure theoretical knowledge so I can apply it to real-life situations and issues that I face as a business leader.”

Challenging and energizing
All in all, the education has contributed to Joakim Lindholm feeling secure and more confident in the role he has now. In his daily work, he can relate to knowledge from most of the modules in the programme. More specifically, he highlights the visit to India as something unique and very rewarding. Nevertheless, he primarily underlines the exchange with the other participants and the network that the programme gave him.

“It was fantastically exciting and inspiring to be in a room with 30 people who all have the same drive and attitude; who are positive and see opportunities rather than problems. I am still in contact with several of them almost every week.”

So, even though the programme was demanding, it is something he would recommend to employers and potential participants.

“Employers must invest in the employees they believe in, the ones they want to keep and award greater responsibilities. The Executive MBA programme provides the breadth needed. Sure, the education requires a lot of work. It is challenging. But it is also energizing and developing. For me, it was a very positive period in my life.”

Joakim Lindholm

For more information on GU Executive Education’s leadership programmes, see www.guexed.com or contact:

Peter Salomonsson, Sales & Business Development Manager
peter.salomonsson@handels.gu.se, +46 708 62 48 60

Håkan Ericson, CEO
hakan.ericson@handels.gu.se, +46 709 50 63 35