Alumni of the month: Jules Lajola, CEO, Ataca

Author Niina Tuttavainen

Published 1.6.2021

DBA Alumni

Alumni of the month is a news series of interviews where we feature Henley Business School alumni from various fields of business. In the interviews, our alumni share what were the most important lessons they learned during their studies and how studying at Henley has impacted both the career and personal life. In addition, you will also get insights on what are the keys to success in each alumnus’ field of business.

Listen to your heart

Why the DBA, a question that has been asked from Jules by many and frequently. After completing the programme and being awarded the Doctor of Business Administration, he is ready to reflect on the personal development journey at the age of 46. 

The DBA entails two key elements that must be met to obtain the award: the practical and the theoretical. Having been a business leader for 26 years, for Jules the practical element was an important motive behind choosing a DBA and not a PhD. His thesis explored the impact of culture and generational characteristics on coaching relationships and thus contributed to the body of knowledge in the field. Even though the study was carried out in Finland, it complemented the global academic discussion on coaching in various cultures in the same manner as other studies conducted recently in Islamic and Asian cultures.

Exploring and decision making go hand in hand

Having worked internationally for most of his adult life, cultural and global/local business aspects are close to Jules. This information brings us closer to a more holistic answer to the question on why he chose a DBA.  After the Henley MBA, Jules felt he needed more, and for a global business leader, it was a logical next step. Since Henley has one of the best globally recognised DBA programmes, it felt natural to continue the personal development on Henley’s path.

Our discussion moves into the field of personal development, an important subject for Jules.  “You have to evolve, you have to develop your skills and your awareness of the world” – a statement he lives by. “This journey never ever ends.” He smiles and continues: “I am an explorer, I am interested in people, processes, cultures and interactions, but I am also a decision-maker, which means I must make intelligent decisions backed with moral and positive emotions.” At one point of the DBA, when he felt he needed some contrasting insights to his personal development, he enrolled to a programme at Berkeley California, which gave him the credentials of a certified coach. In reflection, Jules says that one should always seek for alternative programmes and methods for personal development, and that in his case, the Berkeley experience contributed to the DBA journey by adding personal strength and psychological skills. 

A growth story of you

For those considering a DBA, he says, “yes, yes, hey, if I can do it, so can you.” On a more serious note, he admits the DBA was the most challenging journey he has ever taken. He adds that it is truly a substantial time investment, and the programme becomes a way life for several years. According to Jules, it will impact not only you but people around you, and that must be taken into consideration as well. However, if your heart and mind are saying, “You should do it”, you must listen to these voices. 

Last topic: any regrets, what would you do differently? After smiling, he says: “No regrets, but now after the experience, I would do many things differently and more efficiently on the level of practical research. However, I can only say this thanks to the experience and its results: the self-level learning achieved, the new insights discovered, and the increased level of personal awareness and knowledge. Above all, I feel I grew as a person. No regrets!” 


Niina Tuttavainen

Marketing and Administration Specialist +358 40 832 9406

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