How did you become a professor or researcher?
I studied work psychology and leadership as my long minor and already in my second year as an undergraduate, I applied for a research assistant's position in a research project of Professor Eila Järvenpää. Professor Matti Vartiainen picked me out from there to be a research assistant for his projects.
When I graduated, I went to work as an HR manager in the company CRF Health, and I set up HR activities there. When I left that job, we had opened five international offices with a total of 250 employees. That is one of the success stories for alumni of the Department of Industrial Engineering and Management.
I contacted Professor Vartiainen again and told him that I wanted to start working on a doctoral dissertation. In addition to Aalto, I have worked a total of four years at Stanford University in two phases. I first went there in 2008, I defended my doctoral dissertation in 2010, had three children, and we returned from Stanford in the summer of 2015. Then I started work at the School of Business, and in February 2016 I was chosen to lead the IDBM (International Design Business Management) master's programme. I headed the programme for five years as a Professor of Practice.
However, throughout those five years, I continued my research work as if I had been a tenure track professor. I managed to accumulate enough research and teaching merits to apply for an assistant professorship and was immediately accepted at the second level. What is exciting about this is that my professorship opened just when Järvenpää retired. I even have her former office.
What is the most important high point of your career?
Stanford without a doubt! When I went there in 2008, I was among the first Aalto students to go there. I started to prepare my departure already in 2006 and to clear a path in that direction. Online I found an interesting professor in my field, Pamela Hinds, and it took some time for me to get her attention. One local person knew me and told Hinds that this potential Ph.D. student would be worth speaking to. Hinds invited me to Stanford on June 5th, 2007. The date happens to be my birthday.
Hinds and I have cooperated now for 13 years, and the cooperation continues. She is my most important mentor, friend, and research partner. She and her mother have been in Finland at our summer cottage and we have gone through many of the joys and sorrows of life together.
What is the most essential characteristic of a researcher?
Unyielding perseverance! A researcher needs to love the excruciatingly long journey from launching a study all the way up to the point when the results have been published in a top-tier journal. The satisfaction cannot come from a publication alone because the publication process often involves many rejections and new attempts.
What do you expect from the future?
Getting to turn the research of organizational design and leadership into Finland's leading research unit.