My DBA Journey - The Beginning

An exciting opportunity definitely worth dreaming about, to channel one’s ambitions towards and to contemplate: Am I ready and able? Will I find the time to do it and am I committed enough?

Riitta Lumme-Tuomala, 13.02.2014

”Aalto University offers a global DBA program especially tailored for executives and other top-level business professionals, who desire a high-quality doctorate in business administration and are committed to conducting doctoral level research in strategic management, marketing or other business disciplines.” This is a quotation from the Aalto University Executive Education DBA brochure.

An exciting opportunity definitely worth dreaming about, to channel one’s ambitions towards and to contemplate: Am I ready and able? Will I find the time to do it and am I committed enough? These are quotations from my head.

And then, one day I found myself writing my application, drafting a research proposal, and asking for recommendation letters to be submitted to the Board of Studies. So quite obviously the answers to the above questions were positive. At least they were at the moment, when the application went in…

And since the beginning of December of last year, I have been a proud participant of the Aalto EE’s DBA program, a Doctoral candidate.

Who are you, you ask. Let me introduce myself.

My name is Riitta Lumme-Tuomala. Since 2006 I have been working in Aalto EE (or the predecessor JOKO actually first, then HSE Executive Education) in various roles. Presently my title is Director, Russia and Talent Management. The latter is the topic area I will do my research and write my DBA Thesis on. (Gosh, that feels so great to say!) The former part of my title tells about the frequent point of destination of my business trips and the market where Aalto EE’s business is expected to grow with giant leaps in the coming years. My academic background is that of a Master of Science, Economics and my alma mater is, surprise, surprise, Helsinki School of Economics. I am also an Aalto EE alumnus, my EMBA degree dates back to the year 2000.

Talent Management has been close to my heart and in my job description for several years and in different organizations. My role within the fields of TM has varied; I have worked as a trainer and an HRD Manager, a consultant and a supervisor. I have always felt passionate about TM and through my “practitioner’s view” the willingness to do academic research on that area has grown. When discussing that topic and my approach to it with academic people, including Professor Henrikki Tikkanen, Director of the Aalto Executive DBA program, my passion step by step started to take an academic form and I was able to say yes to the questions above. 

It is far too early to stipulate the actual title here. Having learned a fraction of academic reading and writing (the first course we need to take) and fighting with my first papers for the respective professor, I know that the title and my idea is just an embryo waiting for deep analysis, hundreds of articles, and dozens of interviews…

Articles very soon become one’s friends (or foes?) and different databases your regular hang around places. It is a new world, the academic one, to me in this format, even if I have had the pleasure to work with esteemed professors from great universities for many years. A world, demanding a lot of discipline, commitment, meticulous work, and curiosity. One of my favorite slogans is “Curiosity is the cure for boredom. There is no cure for curiosity”. So that one is “check”. Will my self-discipline be enough and am I ready for peer reviews, merciless feedback and questioning of my argumentation? I guess I am. And I will keep you posted. Next time, I will write the post together with my supervisor just to test the thickness of my academic skin. Until then, take care, keep up your curiosity, academic or not! 


Riitta Lumme-Tuomala is Head of Growth and Director, Russia and Talent Management at Aalto EE.
Aalto Executive DBA is a structured doctoral level program for individuals with considerable managerial experience who wish to make a significant contribution to the enhancement of professional practice. 

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