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People of Finavia: What kind of work does the airport offer for engineers? Two Finavia engineers share their career stories

Article published
23.1.2020 at 09:00
People & Aviation
An automation engineer and an HVAC engineer describe their work at Finavia. Besides technical skills, people skills are essential, the engineers say.

At the airport, it is crucial that all systems and technology are well-designed and work as expected. On the other hand, the growing numbers of passengers means that there’s always a need to plan and develop new projects and solutions. Finavia employs a lot of engineers from different fields, who work in very various roles.

Finavia staff includes engineers with a bachelor’s or master’s degree. They work, for instance, in property management, traffic area services, aviation electricity and logistics. Many engineers also work for Helsinki Airport’s development programme or as project managers or directors at different”, says Sari Karjalainen, HR Partner at Finavia.

We interviewed two engineers from different fields about their careers and work at Finavia:


A passion towards planning led to an unexpected position

Elina Lehtimäki, Manager of Data and Telecommunications, is in charge of the many telecommunications networks at Finavia’s airports. Lehtimäki, who studied automation engineering at a university of applied sciences, has always been interested in planning.

“I wanted to study automation technology because I thought that in the future there will be plenty of job opportunities for people who master automation programming. As a student I wanted to work in traffic planning. So, there’s no direct link between my studies and my current job”, says Lehtimäki, who has worked at Finavia for almost nine years. However, her planning experience at a mechanical engineering agency helped her land a job at Finavia as a technical planner in air navigation services.

“Planning is similar work no matter where you do it, but when I started working at air navigation services, I didn’t know what it was exactly that I was going to plan. I just knew the position would be a step in the right direction”, Lehtimäki laughs. Since then, her career path has led her to a position where she didn’t think she would end up: as a manager.

“At first, I didn’t find working in a manager position very appealing, but I still ended up as a stand-in for my then superior, who was taking a sabbatical. During that time, my ideas of myself and managerial work changed, and I wound up applying for and getting the position of Manager of Data and Telecommunications”, Lehtimäki says.

“What’s best about my job is being involved in the Helsinki Airport development programme, which is very busy and moving fast. I get to leave my mark on a great project with a big impact.”

A versatile job for a HVAC expert

Ari Keskisarja works as Maintenance Manager in Finavia’s property management. His team takes care of the heating and water systems, ventilation and air conditioning at Helsinki Airport. The right temperature, for example, is not only important in terms of passenger comfort but also crucial for the functioning of critical equipment. Keskisarja’s job also includes project management and tasks like monitoring energy consumption.

For Keskisarja, who started working as an HVACA engineer at Finavia’s maintenance centre about four years ago, it was a surprise how many building services experts work for Finavia.

“I studied in the Building Services degree programme at Metropolia University of Applied Sciences. However, most of the skills I need in my current tasks I’ve learned at work”, Keskisarja says.

“My job allows me to learn new things all the time, and each day is different. I can influence my own work and make decisions and initiatives for development independently, although permit processes take their time at the airport”, he says. In addition, moving on to a manager position three years ago brought a new dimension to his work.

People skills and appreciation of diversity are key

Lehtimäki and Keskisarja find the ability to prioritise tasks and manage pressure important, because schedules are often tight. Both engineers also highlight the importance of collaboration skills and openness. Especially for managers, it’s essential to appreciate diversity.

As a manager, I’ve got to know myself better and I’ve learned that our working environment needs different kinds of people. In the past, I may have wondered why everyone didn’t do things like I would do them, but as a manager, I’ve learned to see things differently and to appreciate different points of view”, Lehtimäki muses.

In both engineers’ opinion, a genuine interest in the field and a readiness to learn new things are also essential.

“It’s important to have experience in the field and technical skills, but without people skills, you won’t make it very far in this business”, Keskisarja states.

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