-Who are you? Can you tell a bit about yourself and what you like to do in your free time?
I am a natural scientist from Tampere interested in technology, communication, and creative solutions. I am also a part-time entrepreneur, and have been one for over a decade already, in photography and graphic design. I’d describe myself as a bit of a perfectionist and a social guy. I spend my free time relaxing with music and cooking, meeting friends, playing badminton, wandering in nature, ice swimming and definitely behind the wheel of a car. I just love driving and everything connected to cars. Me, my wife and our two bunnies (Darwin and Helmi) make up our small family.
-How did you end up studying biotechnology at Tampere University?
I have always been interested in cellular biology, even as a kid. The extensive curriculum Tampere University had to offer, and the future prospects of biotechnology were attractive to me. I also liked Tampere as a city. Even though I lived my childhood in Lahti, I was born in Tampere. To me, communication and advancing science were, and still are, very important.
-When did you graduate and what was your major? What about your minor? (You can also tell what in your studies you have found helpful in work life)
I started working full-time in 2016. I majored in molecular biology, but I was almost as equally interested in cell technology and bioinformatics.
Almost all my studies have helped me with my work, and it would be hard to name a single useless course, as learning new is built upon old knowledge. Making connections between different learned things is easier thanks to the versatile studies we are offered. Multidisciplinary is often a good thing. I was very interested in tissue technology, which still has very interesting prospects. The best courses to satisfy my hunger for knowledge were offered on the technology side, but the topic still required a deep understanding of molecular biology, which I got from the Kauppi campus.
I was also interested in the business and industrial side. There was a course called BioBusiness, which handled these topics. It was an excellent course, and I hope there is something similar offered today! Laboratory courses on the other hand deepened the theoretical knowledge learned in other courses and offered a motivating change from reading books only.
-Did you work during your studies?
I worked in a couple of different research groups during the summers. They were very educational and good experiences. Later on, I continued working on my master’s thesis in Vesa Hytönen’s group. I was also working actively as an entrepreneur throughout my studies.
-Can you tell a bit more about your entrepreneurship?
I founded my company in 2009 as my photography turned from a hobby to a business. I was asked to be a wedding photographer etc. and being an entrepreneur fascinated me, so becoming one felt only natural. I photographed private events and worked a lot on the commercial side as well. Graphic design came along with designing web pages and then expanded as one of the services I offer.
-What was your first job after graduating?
MedEngine. The company is a medical science agency which provides expert medical data science, scientific content & digital engagement, and market access services to pharmaceutical and health-tech companies.
-Where do you work at the moment?
-Can you describe your career path?
I ended up working at MedEngine in 2016 through my friend. Actually, I discussed the topic with my friend at Biopsi’s annual party, while chatting and exchanging news! It turned out, that MedEngine was searching for someone like me, and the pharmaceutical industry was one of my interests.
I started as a freelance writer and graphic designer, through my already-established business. It was simple to combine graphic design with the scientific world, thus producing scientific pictures came naturally as my experience accumulated through work and school. Within this work position, I produced both scientific illustrations and texts. Good writing skills are also useful when combined with biomedical studies.
Quite soon after freelancing, I moved on to working as a full-time Scientific Project Manager at MedEngine.
I have truly found my place here, and I’ve gotten to be a part of building a growing Nordic company: when I began here there were less than 10 of us in one office in Helsinki. Today we have over 40 employees and offices in Helsinki, Copenhagen, and Stockholm. In my career I have moved on from freelancer to Scientific Project Manager, to Scientific Consultant before my current position. Today I work as a Managing Consultant in one of our business units (Scientific Content and Digital Engagement), in which I am responsible for our digital solutions and business development together with our COO. I am also lucky to have a close colleague, Anna Grönholm, who is responsible for our scientific content and happens to be a Biopsi alumni as well!
-Have you taken some extra courses after graduation?
I have educated myself more on topics of the pharmaceutical industry. As an example, the knowledge of the ethical guidelines of the field must be updated every couple of years.
-Can you describe your typical workday?
My typical workday begins by going through my emails, messages, and calendar. There is usually loads to do, so priorities and a to-do list have to be on point. Next, I will either head to the train station and Helsinki or to my home office here in Tampere, depending on the day. My typical day includes lot of meetings, which is fitting for my social character. Some of the meetings are internal and in those, I get to be creative with my teammates, tackle challenges and come up with new ideas. The other meetings are with clients, and in those, I get to hear their interesting challenges and offer them new solutions. We work very closely with many of our clients’ teams – almost being an extended team to some of them. I also do a lot of sales work and I enjoy it very much, as every client has their own specific needs. I get a lot of motivation and energy both from my team and the customers!
During a workday I am involved in many individual projects – coordinating our team, mentoring, planning and working with projects. Major and challenging projects are my definitive favorites because the feeling of team success at the end is almost too difficult to explain.
My workdays include regularly administrative work, analyzing the business and developing it. And of course, following closely the trends and needs of our field. I am also responsible for the processes concerning our information security. Earlier in my career, I also managed MedEngine’s communication and marketing.
– So you work both from Helsinki and Tampere. How have you felt about that? How many days a week are you needed in Helsinki?
Working at a distance is fine because the transportation between the two cities is very easy. It is actually quite nice to spend 1,5 hours on the train working on something that needs good concentration. For many years I travelled back and forth 4-5 times a week, and that was fine, but nowadays I’ll go to Helsinki 1-3 days a week, depending on the work situation. We have, like many other companies as well, moved onto a hybrid model, balancing between distance and at the office. I like Tampere as my hometown, but Helsinki is a nice city to work in.
-What excites you the most in your job?
The people! Both the customers and our amazing team at MedEngine. But also developing new solutions and the forward-moving pharmaceutical industry (and moving on with it) motivates me a lot. In the end, it comes down to patients getting the newest and the best treatment as quickly as possible. Our slogan “Accelerating the future for those who need tomorrow now” describes well what we are doing at MedEngine.
-What kind of dreams do you have concerning your career?
I hope I don’t get stuck in my comfort zone, but rather that I will be able to challenge myself and grow throughout my career. I also hope my work will always have a positive effect on the people around me.
-What advice would you give to yourself as a young student?
One key thing is to truly listen to yourself and bravely follow your interests. There are very few things not worth learning, and surprising combinations can create valuable results in your know-how. I urge you to explore different directions through your studies and to dream big. Usually, things left undone are the things that irk you the most.
-Can students be in contact with you if they have something to ask?
You can always email me at email@example.com and I’ll answer as soon as possible.
Email interview on 02.02.2023
Interviewers: Alli Raittinen, Katariina Helasmäki
Translation: Lotta Kulmala