Congratulations on being awarded as the information systems scientist of the year 2022 in Finland. What do you think is the secret of your success?
Thank you, it has been an absolute honour to receive this award. I think a key factor has been the consistent hard work I have been doing for over a decade now. However, hard work alone does not bring success. One needs to have other ingredients such as a strong collaborative network and supportive colleagues around you.
What do you do at LUT?
My professorship is in digital transformation at the Software Engineering Department. My research focuses particularly on responsible information systems design using blockchain and AI, and I lead a couple of projects funded by external agencies around this topic. Furthermore, I supervise five PhD students as well as two postdocs in our department, lead the Master’s Programme on Digital Transformation and teach several courses.
How did you end up leading an academic career?
I would say it was “all of a sudden”. I was working at Nokia when I started my PhD. After finishing my PhD, my supervisor and some other colleagues commented that I did quite well on my PhD journey. At that point, I thought an academic career might be a good fit for me. Since then, I have just continued a career in academia.
What are the things you enjoy most about your job?
I enjoy everything about the academic job, whether it be conducting research, publishing articles, writing grant applications, attending conferences, teaching, supervising, and so on. However, possibly the most enjoyable part for me is working with others on interesting research projects.
What would you like to change at the university?
I think we need to conduct even more relevant research on all fronts and align with the industry and society’s needs. Fortunately, we are moving toward that, with funding agencies such as Business Finland and others providing funding for such actions. I also think the PhD programmes need to be somehow more aligned with the industry so that some PhDs can go to work in the field.
What is your greatest career accomplishment so far?
I don’t think I can name just one because, in my opinion, a researcher needs to have multiple major accomplishments to end up with a professorship. And all those accomplishments are almost equally important. When it comes to me, these are a few cases that come to my mind: I managed to publish a couple of articles in top-ranked journals on information systems in 2020. These were very important to get a tenure track position (or even a tenured position). Also, I have had several successes in externally funded projects with Business Finland, Horizon, and others.
What would you like to study if anything was possible?
I feel that I should learn more about social and behavioural sciences. This is because, ultimately, software is used by humans. However, the good news is that I have colleagues from these disciplines with whom I can learn and work on collaborative projects, and nowadays we have a social science department at LUT.
Who or what inspires you most?
During my childhood, I was most inspired by my parents, especially my mother. I used to struggle a lot with my studies when I was a child. To be honest, I was not a sharp kid, but it is my mother who always tried to help and protect me. Another source of inspiration and support throughout my entire career has been my wife.
How do you balance your work and personal life?
This has been a challenging task for me. Especially since COVID, it has become even more difficult as our work and family lives have mixed. However, I have recently taken measures such as not reading or sending any emails or Teams messages outside working hours. I am also trying to be more selective in picking up projects.
Tell us something about yourself that others may not know.
I was extremely bad in most of the study subjects when I was a child. However, I discovered in Grade Ten that I can do much better. I had a home tutor who helped me with this. That was a turning point in my life.