The Power of Shared Experiences: Son & Mirjaliisa’s Journey

Every now and then, we hear a story that stops us in our tracks. A story that reminds us of the incredible power of human connection and what can happen when we open ourselves up to new experiences. For Son and Mirjaliisa, or Miri as she is called, it was a chance encounter on a residential leadership development programme that led them to a lifetime union. Both working at the same company but never having met, they attended our flagship Leadership in Management programme (LM) in 2014, and their lives were forever changed. Here we share their story of love, life, and leadership.

Prior to the training, Miri’s company had been acquired by the company Son had been working at for 17 years. An HR Director, responsible for the global sales and applications team of a Business Unit, Miri had been selected to go on the LM to support the team through the changes surrounding the acquisition. Son, who was managing Protection Technologies sales in Europe, reflects on the training with Leadership Trust as twofold. “The first week was conducted internally in Geneva and was more content-driven. The second week, where I met Miri, was at the residential component in the UK.” The pair recall their meeting fondly, in March 2014. While they had become aware of each other in Geneva, it was not until the charming backdrop of the English countryside that they really met.

And it was in the midst of their personal self-awareness journeys that Son and Miri formed a connection. After being on the same team on the Leadership in Management residential course and having made quite an impression on each other, the two of them stayed in contact in the months after the programme, with Son even reaching out to Miri for a reference at a new role he was seeking. “He asked if I could give some feedback based on what I had observed during the leadership training,” she recalls. “So while not working directly together, at least I had acquired some understanding of what kind of person he is. And in the end, well, I can’t say that it was because of me, but he got the job!”

After 18 years in the same company, Son left his role in search of a new challenge. Miri reached out to Son at the beginning of 2015 suggesting they meet up during her business trip to Geneva. “I received an email from Miri sometime in January and invited her for dinner. I think it was January 15th. We were having our meal, and the topic of the upcoming summer came up, so I suggested the idea that I visit her in Finland. I had never been there and had obviously heard a lot about it. With the northern lights, the lakes, and the fact that Finnish people are among the happiest in the world!” That summer, Son and his daughter made their way to Finland to meet Miri. After a wonderful holiday together, and with a potentially intentional missed flight home, Miri and Son continued to get to know each other in the months that followed.

“Long story short,” teases Son, “Miri resigned from her role, sold her flat and moved to France to join me! We then married in 2018.” Beaming, the pair go on to detail the career changes that followed, with a move to Zurich, and how their journey led them to Singapore just last year. Son, who now works for a global chocolate company, reached out to his network and reconnected with a number of his previous colleagues. The story comes full circle, with Son and Miri meeting Leadership Trust Singapore CEO, Garima Kothari. Son remembers this surprising revelation, “I was chatting with my friend and previous colleague Eric, and we started to talk about what he does and what his wife does. When we heard she worked in leadership development, we asked to see the details. After seeing the logo, I asked Miri, could this be the same company where we went to for leadership training? And it was!”

Asked to sum up their experience in a word, the couple compete for the phrase that encapsulates it all: life changing. The words grateful and meaningful also make the cut as Son and Miri reflect on what was truly a unique experience with the Leadership Trust. Son attributes much of the past nine years to the programme. “In a way, it gave me 3 new jobs, resulting in my new assignment in Singapore and, of course, a new wife!” he says. “The beauty of the Leadership in Management programme is that it takes you outside of your comfort zone, outside of your normal environment, outside of your company. You go to a place that you’re not familiar with; you almost feel like you are out of reality and time, so you can really focus on yourself. You become much more self-aware. I mean, through that week, there’s a progression. I’m sure the programme is built in a way that there are very clear milestones to be reached.”

Asked to sum up their experience in a word, the couple compete for the phrase that encapsulates it all: life changing

For Miri, the coaching element was one of the most important parts of the programme. “The coaching segment was so key to my personal development. I was told I am too nice! Which, of course, I do not think I became less nice after the revelation, but rather I had an understanding of what this meant for my leadership style in practice. Both Son and Miri think back to the session at the end, with Son referring to it as one of the most powerful moments in the programme and Miri mentioning her ongoing use of its outcomes.

“I still have the booklet with my notes, and I have gone back to my notes on a number of occasions,” she reveals. “Looking at what I wrote about Son and also noting down the things that people said about me, it’s incredibly insightful. Some things have developed while others haven’t changed at all.” Thinking about the Leadership in Management course in the Asian setting, Son says, “I believe with one hundred percent certainty that this programme can take place anywhere in the world.” Miri echoes this, saying, “There’s value in the way the programme is built, and that’s from the Leadership Trust. I have no doubt that it’ll work.”

Proof that love can be found in unexpected places, Son and Miri crossed paths in an unconventional setting and experienced what can only be described, in their own words, as life changing. We hope that their story has inspired you and reminded you of the power of love and connection.

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