2023 Best & Brightest Executive MBA: Tapio Kallonen, INSEAD

Tapio Kallonen


Age: 39

“I’m active, energetic, competitive, reliable, trustworthy, ambitious, father of three, husband, sport enthusiast, ambivert, and leader with global mindset.”

Hometown: Helsinki, Finland

Family Members: Three kids ages 2, 6, and 7 and a wife

Fun fact about yourself: I’ve played in World Cup in Italy as a captain of team Finland in 2002. This was a World Cup of high-schools in football, where our high-school from Helsinki qualified as the representative of Finland. This was a fantastic experience to play against some of the world’s best players at that time in a big tournament. Afterwards some of my teammates went to professionals to the top leagues in Europe and even played in the Champions League. 

Undergraduate School and Degree:

Waseda University (Tokyo, Japan) – Executive Training Programme, nominated to the Program’s Valedictorian.

Aalto University (Espoo, Finland) – Master of Science (Technology)

Where are you currently working? Specim (Konica Minolta Company) as Chief Executive Officer

Extracurricular Activities, Community Work and Leadership Roles: I played football at the highest possible level my whole youth and continued to play semiprofessionally during my studies in men’s leagues until age 30.

I regularly play tennis, golf and padel, and I love to enjoy warm summer days either on a sailing boat or a motorboat. I also regularly play chess both off- and online.

I was nominated as Valedictorian of the Executive Training Programme at Waseda University, Tokyo, Japan.

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? I’m very proud of that I have been able to allocate sufficient time to read and digest the materials provided for the core courses. I’m proud of my learnings in Finance, where I feel that I’ve upgraded my skills significantly from my base level. In addition, I’m happy how well I was able to internalize course content, particularly for Macroeconomics and Price and Markets.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? Since my graduation, I have been able to create international growth strategies, execute strategies, expand global distribution channels, build a successful management team, lead a full acquisition process from seller’s side, and oversee post-merger integration activities under new ownership. In all my c-level roles, I have been able to lead the companies to a very high and profitable growth path simultaneously outperforming general market growth in these specific sectors.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? My favorite professor was the Finance professor, Olivier Dessaint, who had such a high passion for the topic he taught. He was extraordinarily good keeping the focus in class to relevant matters, and he was helpful to explain topics between the classes. I also learned the most from this particular course.

Why did you choose this school’s executive MBA program? I wanted to join one of the absolute best business schools in the world. Due to practical reasons, I wanted it to be located in Europe. I had two final candidates, IMD and INSEAD, and I chose INSEAD because I felt it was better suited for my needs and ambitions.

What is the biggest lesson you gained during your MBA and how did you apply it at work? Honestly, I’ve learned so many things that I’ve already taken into use in my daily work. They include the investment decision rules from Finance, profit maximizing marketing strategies from Marketing, and increased self-awareness in my own leadership through the Leadership and Communication courses. One of the biggest takeaways for me has been the group work assignments, where we have had to crack various cases with limited time and with very diverse teams. I’ve been able to see and learn from different styles of others, and to reflect those to my own behavior.

Give us a story during your time as an executive MBA on how you were able to juggle work, family and education? By far, the greatest challenge for me is to juggle all these professional activities together with family. As a father of three small kids, I’ve really needed to master my calendar and time management to a different level than ever before. A huge thanks goes to my wife, who has made it so easy for me to pursue my dream to do this MBA even during this hectic period of life.

What advice would you give to a student looking to enter an executive MBA program? The only thing you need to ask if you have will and motivation for the program. If you do, then you just make it happen and organize it (well in advance!), so that there is not too much burden to your close ones nor to your colleagues at work.

What was your biggest regret in business school? There are so many interesting new things to learn, and I’d like to use more time to many of the subjects to really get deep into them. However, in the end, it is about time management and one just can’t do everything

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? There are so many fantastic people in our cohort from whom I’ve learned so much. The willingness to help each other has been amazing to witness. I was lucky to get into a special group in the first module where we did organization culture group work together, which turned out to be top scored work piece by the professor. The team consisted of Kristof Storms, Olaedo Osoka, and Kiran Randhawa, who have become very close friends to me during the program. Each of them works at such a high level of professionalsim in their fields with superb personal characters.

What was the main reason you chose an executive MBA program over part-time or online alternatives?  The main reason was the people in the cohort. I believe that only through intensive EMBA program one can create long-lasting and meaningful personal relationships.

What is your ultimate long-term professional goal? There is no single end point in my vision. I want to master the different aspects of leadership, so that I can ensure the best possible success to the company I work in, with the ability to provide tangible growth and success to the people around me.

I’ve always pursued my leadership towards level 5 leadership, a concept developed in the book Good to Great (Jim Collins) where success is not about the leader itself, but it is all about the team and the cause.

What made Tapio such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2023?

“The Admissions Committee members who had the opportunity to review Tapio’s application during selection process were first of all impressed by the breadth of his international experience. Originally from Finland, he lived and worked in Spain, New Zealand and Japan. These experiences have given Tapio the clout to steer his company through international waters, to the extent that a Japanese company became interested by buying them out.”

Teresa Peiro-Camaro
Associate Director Global Admissions, Degree Programmes at INSEAD


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