Work, what is it? I guess I can already shout this question out quite freely. I retired in 2000 and the time after that has been amazing. The first year I just wondered how money (my pension) comes in regularly even if I do nothing, I don’t even drag myself to my working place. This was something new to a person, who has never been unemployed, not even for a day.
My actual work career started in -67. I met downtown one of my schoolmates from Oulu University and he told that he’d been working at the University Computing Centre the previous summer and that he wouldn’t like to go back there. Was I interested in that work? Of, course I was. And soon I found myself in front of the Head of the Mathematics Department discussing job opportunities. The job interview was essentially the following… how is your Bachelor’s degree going? I said that one exam is missing and I will do it in the coming autumn. I had studied for two years. This convinced the decision maker and so started my computer career. Funnily enough, I myself had always planned to pursue a teaching career.
After this summer job, I worked as an assistant and occasionally also as a teacher at the Oulu University. Occasionally, I also had a chance to visit the regional centre of National Computer Centre. It was the time when all the IT experts were really wanted in labour market. You didn’t have to look for work. It was the employers who came after you and offered you work. It was during this time when I also finished my studies and graduated as the Master of Sciences.
After my graduation, I worked for Espoo Tietotehdas Ltd (nowadays Tieto Ltd) for three years. My title was Data Systems Designer. The most valuable thing that I learned in this job was project work.
After my work in Tietotehdas, I found myself again in Oulu. I started my work at Oulu Ltd as a Data Systems Design Manager. In my team, I had six designers and programmers. This lasted for about six years. This work, through which I learned many managerial skills, helped me to grow more to the demanding role of a manager. Especially, my own boss was a good example to me. He showed me what it’s like to be a good manager. As I learned all these managerial skills from him, I took part in the managerial training that the company was providing for us. Be open and sturdy! That was the key message of all managerial training at that time. But the career continued …
One of the highlights of my career was when I worked as an IT Manager in Tampere University Hospital (TAYS). TAYS was and still is (2017) one of the five University hospitals in Finland being responsible for about one million Finnish people. When I entered my post, the department was still rather small, less than ten workers. The level of education was also quite low. The first challenge for me as a new manager was to make sure we had enough good, qualified employees. If you were a Master of Sciences in computer science, you were quite welcome at my department, provided you otherwise passed the selection process. In 16 years, the number of our employees grew to more than 30.
The other challenges, apart from staff, were old equipment as well as old-fashioned systems. Over the years, the hospital purchased new computers and a lot of planning and programming was done by the staff. Many big projects were also carried out. This time saw also the big evolution in our equipment: from punched cards to the era of so called ‘dumb terminals’.
My responsibility as a manager was to create good working conditions in which all could excel at their work. One of my best characteristics was the skill to delegate tasks and responsibility to my workers. Sometimes, I have playfully said that ‘Being a bit of a lazybones, I’ve always liked to make other people do my job’. The truth is that in such a big group you just can’t do everything by yourself. You have to delegate tasks and responsibility.
Working as an IT Manager has made me playfully define my job as … I’m actually not doing anything, just wandering from one place to another and talking to people. What’s that supposed to mean? To be more precise I spent my days dragging myself from one meeting to another. That is, I was some kind of a meeting missile.
A few years later, the city of Tampere had heard so much good about our work that it wanted to integrate our department to its own data systems department, which shows that perhaps we’d done something right over the years. The integration was done in agreement and mutual understanding. As the staff went to work for their new employer, I already had my eyes on the upcoming retirement days. First, I moved to part-time pension and later full-time, when I reached the official retirement age.
…and still going strong… I play chess and exercise.
P.S. So that no-one gets a wrong picture of my work career, he just wanders from place A to place B and talks, I can assure you that I have also done ‘real work’ with my own hands. With the first year of study behind, ie year -66, the student had to get summer job. I walked through the city, in Oulu, and went out to different companies and production facilities and to the director’s talk, have you any job vacancies…? In -66 I got a job as a concrete reinforcement worker at a cement works. At that time, they were building the Oulu Vocational school and the local cement works was responsible for providing the wall elements for the building. As the engineer handed me all the drawings, I started to cut the iron rods and twist them into the shapes that I saw in the drawings. And, at least, to my knowledge, the building is still there and hasn’t collapsed in its 50 years of history. Those were the days of good quality buildings!
As I mentioned above, I have actually found myself a workplace five times before I even started my actual IT career. It has never even crossed my mind to go to the employment agency and ask them to get me a job. I have always found my own workplaces, twice in Rovaniemi and three times in Oulu. And usually I’ve got the job within a day.
Text, Auno S., january 2017