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Jens Schmidt appointed as the Head of Department of Industrial Engineering and Management

Associate Professor Jens Schmidt wants to focus on strengthening the relations with companies and policy makers and the diversity of the faculty and student body.
Jens Schmidt, photo by Mikko Raskinen
Associate Professor Jens Schmidt has been appointed as the Head of the Department of Industrial Engineering and Management as of 1 April, 2023.

Jens Schmidt has begun as the Head of the Department of Industrial Engineering and Management at Aalto University at the beginning of April. He is a tenured professor of strategic management at the department and the head of the master’s programme in industrial engineering and management. Schmidt first came to Finland and Helsinki University of Technology (TKK), Aalto’s predecessor, as an exchange student already in 2002. He moved from Germany to Finland in 2004, spent a few years in the industry before moving back to TKK and getting his PhD in strategic management in 2012 at Aalto University.

What is your area of research?   

My field is strategic management. Much of my work in recent years has been on ecosystems and on strategic thinking. They are actually quite closely connected, since strategic thinking must be systemic to make sure one sees the big picture and how things are related, and one needs to make sure to get all relevant stakeholders on board. I think that there are also lessons here for my head of department role.

What expectations do you have for your new role?

This is actually a quite nice job to have, since we've been able to build a strong community within and around our department. It's great to be able to discuss with colleagues, students and alumni about how to move things forward together. We also have many in the department who work on highly relevant current topics, like the impact of digital technologies and new AI tools, sustainable supply chains and the future of work. We are also very strong when it comes to our research output.

These are great achievements. But there are always a few things that we need to consider for development. One important topic is the diversity of our faculty and student body. It would be great to get especially more people from outside of Finland into our community. We can also do more to engage with companies and also policy makers and become better known in the field. Finally, we need to make some effort to tap into external funding sources, not only to broaden our ability to do relevant research but also, e.g., to be able to educate more doctoral students. I'm confident, however, that we will be successful in these endeavors.

Do you have any highlights in mind for the upcoming months?

There's a lot for me to learn and a lot of people to talk with. I'm looking forward to talking with our people about what we can achieve together. I'm also looking forward to working with our students and alumni. One upcoming highlight is the Prodeko seminar in May, which is a great opportunity for our community to meet and discuss about the important things and to build a foundation for future cooperation.

How do you balance work and other things in life?

 I live quite close to the campus, only 5 minutes by bike. The scenery on the way is quite amazing on some days, and in winter I've even been able to ski to work a few times. It doesn't feel like you're living in a big city (even though there's a six lane freeway passing by). I live in an old house built in 1950 with a garden and a wood-fired sauna in the basement. I enjoy spending time with my family, traveling, going to museums, or reading. So I feel that my life is quite balanced, even though especially when working from home the boundaries between work and free time are a bit blurred.

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