Approximately one in four VTT employees have doctorates, but few are like Maaria Nuutinen, who has a PhD in psychology.
“Positive, energetic and bold”, are the words used by one of the members of Maaria’s team to describe their leader, who has been with VTT ever since she graduated in 1997. Maaria has held a number of research and leadership positions. At the moment, she is in charge of an interdisciplinary research area called Business, Innovation and Foresight, and leads a team consisting of education and social sciences professionals and engineers.
“I want my work to promote a customer-centric approach across the whole of VTT”, Maaria says. She has been actively involved with customers in both the public sector and the private sector. “My previous customers include, among others, Fortum, KONE, Vaisala and the Hospital District of Helsinki and Uusimaa”, she explains. Maaria is especially fascinated by organisational cultures, on-the-job learning and modernising operational cultures. Her expertise in these fields also benefits her colleagues across VTT, as she heads a group focusing on employee experience, corporate culture and practices in the context of VTT’s new facilities.
Maaria wrote her doctoral dissertation in 2006 on the importance and development of expert identity and professional confidence. In other words, she approaches technology from the human perspective. Much of her research has focused on user experience, i.e. how people feel about using a certain product, service or system.
Working at VTT has also given unforgettable user experiences for Maaria herself: “One particularly memorable moment for me was studying the decision-making process on the bridge of a ship as a young researcher and having to climb a rickety rope ladder to get from the pilot boat to the ship in the middle of the sea”, Maaria explains. However, every experience is a lesson learnt, and there
is no limit to the kinds of skills and know-how that could prove useful. “The best thing about working at VTT is being able to really have an impact on the future.”
Although it is easy to get immersed in fascinating work, there needs to be a balance. Maaria’s escapes are her horse and exercise – she cycles to work even in the middle of a blizzard.
- Maaria’s doctoral dissertation, “Expert Identity in Development of Core-Task-Oriented Working Practices for Mastering Demanding Situations”, is available at
- Follow Maaria on Twitter: @MaariaNuutinen