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Finavia employees: The Service Manager of Oulu Airport cares deeply about customer service

Article published
8.8.2023 at 13:00
Kuvassa Oulun lentoaseman Leena Ylitalo kiitotien edustalla huomioliivi päällään
People & Aviation
Leena Ylitalo, Service Manager at Oulu Airport, ensures that the airport’s customer journey works well. For Ylitalo, customer encounters make the work rewarding, and getting to carry out a wide variety of duties has kept her at Finavia for more than a decade.

“I have spent practically my entire career at Oulu Airport. I started in 2010 at Finavia subsidiary Airpro’s accompanying service, where I acted as a representative of tour operators at the airport.

However, during the same year, I transferred to Finavia to work as a Customer Service Representative. The following year, I substituted for a Service Supervisor at the airport during their maternity leave, after which I got a permanent position as a Service Supervisor. I worked mainly at the airport’s Aviashop, i.e. the tax-free shop, but after the shop closed, my duties were extended more and more to the services of the airport as a whole.

I worked as a Service Supervisor until the beginning of 2023, when I started my current job as the airport’s Service Manager.

Finavia offers a lot of support for the development of its employees’ professional skills. During my career, I have trained as a security officer, done training related to customer service, and completed a further vocational qualification in immediate supervisory work. Next, I will start working on a specialist vocational qualification in management.

My work is very varied. I am responsible for the terminal operations of Oulu Airport, the airport’s services and, as a security coordinator, for ensuring that security is implemented in accordance with instructions and regulations.

I also take part in the airport’s day-to-day operations by, for example, working at the security control or info desk. It often happens that I plan to do office work in the morning, but the situation changes and I am needed for some other task.

At smaller airports, people’s job descriptions are often broad. I enjoy the fact that my day-to-day work is always varied and sometimes even hectic. It’s the thing that has made me stay at Finavia for this long.

Of course, this also makes the work more challenging. In winter, for example, flights that are not able to land further north due to weather conditions may be rerouted to Oulu. Unlike airports further up north, Oulu does not have a seasonal peak in the winter, which is why there are fewer people working at the airport during the season. Such special situations require anticipation and a quick response so that everything is ready when the plane lands.

I have worked shifts for my entire career. At Finavia, I have always been able to choose shifts that suit my life situation. When my children were younger, my spouse also worked at Oulu Airport. One of our children has special needs, and we were able to arrange our shifts so that they did not need an external carer. This made our lives a lot easier.

Although my job description has changed, customer service has always been at the heart of it in one way or another. I am a customer service enthusiast through and through.

As a Service Manager, I can influence the airport’s entire customer journey, but I also have the opportunity to have regular customer encounters in my work. These encounters are close to my heart and make my work even more rewarding.

For years, I even had a pen pal from Helsinki who was a customer interested in aviation and airports. Our correspondence began with a postcard that arrived at Oulu Airport’s info desk, where they inquired why Mikkeli Airport could not be found in the book about Finavia airports. I answered the question even though it came to us in a slightly unusual way. Our correspondence about aviation continued for several years, but unfortunately we never met.”