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First year working at VTT – lessons learned by a Research Scientist

18.01.2017 | Mika Räsänen | Lukuaika 5 min
Pirkka Ollonqvist started his research career at VTT a year ago as a Master’s Thesis worker and continued working as a full-time Research Scientist after graduation. Pirkka has studied material science and recycling at Aalto University but has a solid background in B2B sales and customer work. The versatility of his background and skills make a great fit for VTT and Pirkka has gained some big responsibilities early on in his VTT career.

“It’s so wide-ranging. It’s not basic research. It’s big EU projects. It’s pioneering. You can make a difference with your work.”

Customer focus in research

Pirkka admits that his misconceptions of the work of a researcher and working at VTT have been fully shattered during his first year at VTT. Perhaps one of the biggest lessons has been that the work of a scientist surprisingly has quite a strong customer focus.

“My views of working as a researcher have changed completely. There are misconceptions that I wish could be updated. It’s actually very dynamic and customer-oriented.”

Furthermore, Pirkka explains how the customer is very central in the strategy of VTT: research isn’t done just for the fun of it, but for the benefit of a customer to support the customer’s goals. Obviously, Pirkka’s B2B background has been a great benefit in his role.

“The customer has a problem and we start solving it together. You just need to start with the need of the customer. What their goal and aim is to take the project through. Not just offer a solution off the shelf, but how can we create something new together.”

Also, the variety of projects and tasks at VTT have surprised the young scientist. Even though Pirkka’s VTT career began only a year ago, he has earned responsibility and been a part of different kinds of large EU and smaller customer projects. Even his daily tasks vary quite a bit and have an interesting mixture of different elements.

“I come to work wearing a suit and meet customers and in the afternoon I put a lab coat on and go to the lab. That’s what I want to do.”

Passion to learn and to provide answers

Another lesson Pirkka has learned during his first year is that passion towards knowledge and a better society drive people at VTT. People at VTT are curious, they want and need to learn more, they want to fully understand concepts, theory and practice. It’s not just a job.

“People are so passionate about science and the things they are working on. What I’ve seen they’re so motivated. You don’t go to work just to perform mechanically and then just go home. It’s great. You need to have a real interest in the matter and the client.”

Perhaps it’s easy to be passionate about your job when such important questions and problems are being solved. Pirkka describes that VTT has an important role in solving problems of the future in a bigger scale by asking the right questions and generating answers. All these opportunities make VTT a great place to start (and continue) your career at.

“It’s a big company with a lot of knowledge and skills. If you want to work with the issues that will be important in the future, there are all kinds of opportunities for you.”

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