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Carl Thorfinn

"Faculty with a zest for teaching." Carl Thorfinn - LL.M, MBA, Senior IP Counsel, Volvo Car Group

How did the SSE MBA Program change you?
With my legal background I tended to see things as rather black and white. In the program I met people in high positions with different backgrounds, which made me realize that there may be more than one side to an issue and that the first solution you arrive at isn't always the best.

What impact did this have on your professional life?
I have come to understand that decisions based on a thorough evaluation of every conceivable angle are usually better decisions, which are easier to carry out since they tend to be better grounded. The SSE MBA gave me a whole new toolbox and an improved ability to assume new and different perspectives.

Why did you take the SSE MBA program?
In a management position, many challenges require skills in different areas and an understanding of general management. Experience helps you in many ways but you also need to add new competence and a helicopter perspective to meet the expectations on today's leadership. For a number of years I had contemplated replenishing my knowledge base at the right opportunity and at the right school. After screening several different MBA providers, I chose SSE.

What are the major strengths of the program, in your eyes?
The highly competent faculty were made up of stars in their respective fields and they adapted the teaching to fit the mixed background of the participants. The teachers were excellent coaches with a zest for teaching and for us to learn, and they were able to use the experiences of the participants and turn them into instruments of the learning process.

What did your employer gain from your participation?
My ChangeLive project started out with the task of reviewing the company's pricing structure, but it grew into something much larger and ended up in a whole new business model with many sub-projects. The input from the other participants in my group contributed greatly to the result and SSE gave us the time we needed and helped us incorporate the academic perspective.

The new business model has enabled the company to identify revenue sources that were previously overlooked. Neither I nor my employer could have anticipated that my MBA would yield tangible results of this magnitude.

What's your opinion on your fellow participants?
It's obvious that the mix of people in the group was the result of a very thorough selection procedure, since we completed one another so well. A group of 40 people with, say, a shared legal background would not have been as rewarding, and I have grown as a person from being part of such a diverse group for two years.

What's your advice to employers who plan to sponsor an employee?
The MBALive component is the first payback offered. When it comes to contributing with cases and problems for the MBALive projects, the company must be committed and set aside time to identify topics worthwhile. Carry on a dialogue with SSE, as the school is very keen to get a hold of good cases and committed companies.

Any advice to employees about to join the program?
This isn't just a course where you sit and listen, it requires active participation and real commitment. I have taken a number of courses in the past, where it was basically enough just to be present in class. At SSE, you have to prepare and read literature in advance and you are expected to make the most out of every single case. Yet it's not a sacrifice, but rather a challenge that you must be prepared to accept.‚Äč