Positively busy at the moment at work and in winter sports, I am happy about rich snow this winter. I come from Lapland, close to the see, from Keminmaa. In professional life, my biggest interest is innovation, and Metropolia University of Applied Sciences helped on sharpen my focus. Here, in response to my alma mater’s request, I tell a story of my search and discovery.
The Start of the Career
After graduation as a Bachelor in IT from Turku University of Applied Sciences, I worked some time for Teleste Oyj in Turku. My history in Teleste started with a Bachelor’s thesis, which I successfully completed and continued my work for the company. After the company cost cutting and organizational change, I started looking for work in Telecom and very specifically in Ericsson. At that time, my friend who studied with me in Turku was working for Ericsson. He told such exciting stories about his assignments at Ericsson that I started to be envious. In 2009, I got a position in Ericsson. That was not an easy time to get an IT job. Wide networking with professionals, previous experience, and practical engineering knowledge helped to land my dream job.
In Ericsson, we were building a 3G network. Our team delivered a very successful project that offered our customers early access to technology which for that time achieved massive data rates. At that time, our team within Ericsson was one of the first to work with this technology, and I was a Service Engineer. I traveled the world and worked for 9 years in this position, continuing as a Solution Architect. After 9 years, I decided to educate myself. I heard many of my colleagues talking of a Master’s degree in Metropolia, saying nice things, so I decided to look more precisely at this option.
Studying Master’s Degree Program
In daily work, I am closely working with innovation and innovation framework in Ericsson, as it is my ticket to something really interesting. Before I could make a decision if it would be best to work fully with innovation, or I can use a few hours every week, I decided to look for education. After googling all types of programs, my search always brought me the Master’s program in Industrial Management at Metropolia for studies in innovation. After reading a detailed description of the program, it was easy to decide. It explained well what this degree is about, where, who for, and what to do; even what the school day will be. When I looked at the content of the studies, I was very excited and decided to take this very program. It was precisely the thing!
Before the Industrial Management curriculum, I was not sure if I should pursue a management role. But after my Metropolia classes, I realized that it is very interesting and something for me.
Using my Networks to Test my Interest in Management Role
The studies were tougher that I expected, in a demanding way; but I love challenge, it is very good for me as a person. After my Master’s graduation, I started to apply to the management roles inside Ericsson. At the time, I was the sports club chairman at Ericsson Finland as well as a company management employee representative in our local organization. So, I used my network to discuss this role. My activities help me to look at different angles at the business that I am working in: employee management, health and safety, sports clubs management, the company hobby clubs with social activities, etc.
I went to my network and discussed with them that I am now interested and feel ready for a management role, and I am very serious about it. Soon after, we had a mentoring session with the top management in Finland, and after a while, they announced a position in Service Management. I got it. In this role, I have a wide responsibility in services delivery including budget, first hand customer negotiations, and developing customer experience and customer satisfaction. I can master all these areas (taught to us in Metropolia). This is a great leverage of many different types of positions.
For Innovation You Need to Know the Substance
As my next step, I need to maintain and develop the innovation understands and skills, and work on the substance. For innovation, if you discuss it with our instructor Thomas Rohweder, you need to know the substance. No matter how creative you are, a firm professional ground and understanding of real life is needed. In other words, you need to bring your own professional skills into innovation – it could be IT, machine learning, anything related to industrial mega-trends. Importantly, you also need to understand business and finance. So, before my next step upon the managerial ladder, I decided to develop operations excellence, take responsibility over the finances, and master the substance – all these efforts will bring results.
When I started in Service Management, I remember how I was surprised with my service contracts. What is this service? How many customers do we have for it? It was a surprise to hear that this service exists for only one customer, and it was especially developed for this one customer, co-designed, co-created – through innovation, value creation, customer experience – all the topics from my studies! (Some departments, e.g. Sales, at that time did not even realize these concepts, but just made it happen). Now it is one of the foundations for successful service. That area is critically important to make customer dreams and wishes happen.
On the personal side, since I came from Lapland, it is common there to go camping and hiking. This is simply my passion to go hiking, being in the nature. My other hobbies are sports and music. Before the engineering career, I was very excited about music. So, when I first heard about innovations, it sparked my interest. I realized this is the field where I can be creative to combine applied sciences, practice, engineering – and creation. In the past, it was common to combine science and creativity; the people of Renaissance all loved music, science and arts.
Combining Innovation and Development
I am interested in a role that allows a big degree of creativity and freedom to innovate. However, if it is purely innovation, such as full-time innovation coach, it creates a lot of costs. In any traditional company it is ‘no-no’, and it is tricky to have such position. So, I want to focus on combining innovation and development. Here, freedom to innovate is super important. It allows to think and create clever efficiency gains such as with automation or create value with targeted investments by validated innovation ideas. I believe that one can cut costs only within limits but with systematic innovation create value where only sky is your limit. In service delivery organization, we need to innovate on everything, even in Sales, as we need to sell good things. If there is an innovative idea, we make it happen.
My dream job is to innovate and coach young professionals, as I was coaching PhD students from Aalto, it was wonderful, and PhD students from Stockholm in Ericsson Innovation Awards competition. I would also like to have a role in innovation management, and link innovation routinely to real life operational challenges, and make it work, and make good business out of it. There is a lot of creativity in this – very exciting!
The Next Step?
One more thing. All my instructors – Zinaida, Thomas, James – all suggested that I should go for a PhD. This is something that I am still thinking about. However, as I am very clear about what I want, innovation is my passion and an innovation management role is my focus. This is what truly makes me tick.
Photos by Zinaida Grabovskaia
Juho Vieruaho is currently a Service Delivery Manager at Ericsson who graduated as a Master’s of Engineering in Industrial Management from Metropolia University of Applied Sciences in 2018.