Alumni of the month: Vesa Silfver, CEO, Motiva Group

Author Noora Ahti

Published 4.1.2022

Executive MBA Alumni

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

No more hunting for a purposeful job

Vesa Silfver, the CEO of Motiva Group, has a dream job. He works with climate change every day. Vesa’s studies at Henley Business School lead him to his current position and gave him many tools to utilize, both professionally and personally. After a couple of months since his graduation, Vesa now shares his thoughts from the journey.

Vesa’s background is within the Tampere University of Technology and with Industrial Management studies at the turn of the millennium. He also worked 15 years in global consulting companies, Accenture and Deloitte, before his current CEO role.  

“Henley helped me to gain a holistic understanding of business management and leadership topics” says Vesa without hesitation.

However, it wasn't a totally straight forward journey at Henley for Vesa. His studies were put on hold for three years, when he was asked to lead Accenture Healthcare and Public Sector consulting in Finland in 2017. Vesa points out one particular module that made him think and reflect.

“One of the most important learning experiences Henley provided was the Personal Development module and the different tools used for personal reflection. I looked at my life values, the path I had travelled and the choices I had made. I evaluated where I was: my competences and role, organization and context. I reflected where I was heading and what I wanted to change to feel more energized, inspired and balanced in my everyday life”, says Vesa.

Spot on

The personal reflection helped Vesa see multiple pathways going forward. In spring 2019 a headhunter called and wanted to discuss the role of CEO at Motiva Group, the government-owned sustainable development company employing 70 people.

“The role seemed perfect for my aspirations, since I wanted an impactful role in a private organisation, preferably working both with public and private sector organisations. Motiva supports all societal actors in achieving improvements in energy efficiency, material efficiency and circular economy. In short, my work was to focus on the greatest challenge of our time, climate change – no need to look for a more purposeful work”, concludes Vesa with a smile on his face.

Vesa has successfully used learnings from Henley in his role as a CEO and in his private life he was able to bring frequent sports back to his everyday activities. He made a commitment to run a half-marathon and achieved that target after 1.5 years of training, and with a decent time (under two hours).

Networks are a win-win

As the CEO Vesa is contacted by various service providers all the time. When in need for a new kind of a service, he prefers to initiate discussions through his personal networks with experts from different fields to understand the available options better.

Motiva also needs business partners for various kinds of client projects to complement the competences of Vesa’s own team. It is easier to partner with organisations where you have some mutual trust between key people.

Networks are also important in the CEO role.

“The job of a CEO is sometimes lonely. You are accountable to the board for delivering results, while employees have many expectations towards the CEO. There are times when all of these expectations contradict each other. Finding balance is hard and sometimes you have to make hard decisions. I use personal contacts to get peer support from other people in similar leadership roles”, explains Vesa.

Sustainable business with positive impact – a path for years to come

Climate change has reached the core of business strategy in most organisations. Focusing on your own operations' direct CO2 footprint (scope 1 and 2 emissions) will not be enough to win in the future. Businesses need to move attention to increasing resource efficiency, sustaining biodiversity, reducing water footprint and improving social and environmental impacts of their supply chain. All companies need a strategy for sustainable business.

“I have had the honor of taking part in defining the sustainable development road map for Finland during 2021. The road map process is lead by the Prime Minister’s Office and key actors of the Finnish society also participate in the Finnish National Commission on Sustainable Development. The road map will be turned into a strategy during spring 2022, so stay tuned”, says Vesa.

Read our other alumni of the month interviews


Noora Ahti