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SID graduate Eliisa: "Service design drives me forward"

Alumni Eliisa: “During my studies, I realized that everything I had done before in my work and studies could be combined into service design. It gives you a framework, tools, and a creative mindset”.

For Eliisa Sarkkinen it was an “aha” moment as service design had all the elements she is interested in. She had many years of work experience in fields like food industry, marketing, business, IT. She also worked as a researcher in an economics institute.

“I thought service design would connect all those different fields and my main ambition always has been to develop things further whether it is a service or a way of thinking. I want to keep this development mindset in everything I do”, she says.

Some years ago, she met a person in a breakfast seminar who studied Service Information and Design at Laurea. That encouraged her to apply for the Master’s programme.

“It was an excellent moment because at that time I was thinking, what to do with my career, I wanted to learn new things, develop further. I wanted to do something that would update my knowledge. I had my family, children and it was time for a new path in my career. I felt that everything just fell into place”, she recollects.

Inspiring teaching

Eliisa liked the structure of the courses and the teaching methods. “We had different kinds of experts coming, the sessions were very inspiring. The teachers really knew their topics and the courses were complementing each other, so we got a good set of subjects. It was a good combination of theoretical knowledge and practical tools and projects. The teachers were always available, eager to help or discuss things; the communications with them was excellent. Finally yet importantly – we had lots of fun”.

Having said that, Eliisa adds, that one of the greatest benefits was the network she gained, people she got to know. “I still remember the inspiring feeling I had there,” she smiles.

Thesis – working on a digital concept creation

Eliisa did her master’s thesis at Fazer. She build a concept for a client-oriented extranet, an online platform for business to business and company interaction to smooth communication.

“I wanted to create space for sharing knowledge, documents, and all the matters that relate to client relationships so that it is easily visualized and interpreted”, Eliisa explains.

One of the most important aspects of the project was to develop a system to support clients’ needs. Eliisa started her work from interviewing staff and B2B clients; she did workshops and tried to get the knowledge on what really matters to the customers, so that the company knows, what the needs are. For all that, she used different service design tools and methods.

Current life

After graduation, Eliisa wanted to take a new step and got an opportunity to work as a senior lecturer at Haaga-Helia UAS. She teaches International Business and Service Design and participates in company projects.

“My colleagues are great and together we further develop the courses’ content. Teaching international business and globalization together with service design is a combination that thrills me. We should now take the momentum and use our full potential of Finnish high-quality service design competence not only in Finland but in an international context. In addition to teaching, I also lead company projects related to service design and play an active role in Service Design Network. I feel that service design is something that drives me forward and gives me an opportunity to make others succeed as well”, she sums up.

Open minded and international

Service Innovation and Design programme is for almost everyone. Eliisa had in her batch pharmacists, lawyers, service designers, and people working in services, marketing or IT.

The programme requires having some professional background and so the students are very often professionals; people with their own families and work life. The programme is tailored to such demands. Classes take place once a month for three consecutive days and besides that a few evening sessions. Teachers are very flexible and understand different life circumstances.

For Eliisa one of the best things about the studies was diversity. There were people from different professions and different countries like Spain, Canada, Norway, and Poland.

“We had very inspiring conversations; we were sharing different points of view and different perspectives. There was a lot of interaction and people were very open-minded”, she recalls.

“If you find yourself in a position that you want to develop further in different kind of areas, but you feel you lack the tools, you don’t know how to inspire others and go further, you should apply for SID. This is a training programme that changes your mindset”, emphasizes Eliisa.