Career stories

Sanna Syri, Aalto University

Professor of Energy Technology and Economics, Aalto University

Jobs in engineering are interesting and often international. It is a modern field and, despite its gendered nature, gender equality is already getting there.

Sanna Syri

"We need and want more women in technology!"

Sanna Syri is Professor of Energy Technology and Economics at Aalto University. She graduated with a degree in Engineering Physics from Aalto University's predecessor, Helsinki University of Technology. When Sanna was in high school, she was not yet ready to limit her future career to one specific field. This is why she chose engineering physics, within which there is still plenty of choice, from medical technology to economics. However, once she started her studies, Sanna quickly found her own direction. "In my second year of studies, I took my first courses on energy and environmental problems related to energy production. That's when I knew I had found my field!". Sanna has been working in the energy sector for 27 years: first at the Finnish Environment Institute modelling the spread and environmental impact of acidifying air pollution, then at VTT working on energy systems, carbon dioxide emissions and the electricity market. Before her current professorship at Aalto University, Sanna also spent 1.5 years doing research in Austria.

The university's semester rhythm has a significant impact on Sanna's work as a professor. "In the spring there is more time for research and developing new projects". Sanna says the best part of her job is its variety: working with students, supervising PhD students, supervising research, designing research projects, as well as being involved in administrative tasks and making a difference in society!

Sanna also finds it rewarding that, as a research field, environmental issues in energy production are undergoing major changes, and fast-moving research is interesting to follow and understand. Working with students is for Sanna "a dear part of being a professor". She cites influencing the development of new graduate engineers and PhDs as a major success story. "They are creating new success for our society and solving major challenges in the field", Sanna says.

Sanna's satisfaction with her career choice is also reflected in her future prospects, with no plans to change fields. "I hope that my research will continue to be of a good international standard and that it will allow me to teach new people in the field as well as possible". If something had to be done differently, Sanna would have considered taking more courageous breaks from working life during her career.

For whom is this a suitable career option?

Sanna says that energy technology and economics is suitable for a wide range of interests. In addition to a career as a researcher, there are also many interesting jobs in the corporate sector. For example, you may be interested in economics, the potential of emerging technologies, the development of new technologies, business strategies or environmental issues. However, despite the wide range of options, Sanna can also identify a few traits that are particularly useful for a professional in the field: rigour in research, interaction skills and the ability to think creatively.

In general, jobs in engineering are interesting and often international. It is a modern field and, despite its gendered nature, gender equality is already getting there. "We need and want more women in engineering!". Sanna sends her regards.

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