Dr. Tanja Suomalainen
I am a business and product management specialist with several years of work experience. Currently, I work as a principal lecturer in the Master Programme of Digital Business Management at Lapland University of Applied Sciences (starting 10/2021). Before that, I as was a process owner at OP Financial Group managing and leading the customer feedback and complaint processes. The previous two years I was the leader of the Oulu office and senior consultant at Contribyte (2018–2020). Before that, I worked over 13 years at VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland (2005–2018) in close collaboration with national and international ICT companies. My speciality is modern software development methods and practices (i.e. agile, lean and continuous development) and their use in a variety of organizations and market situations. I have extensive knowledge of planning and forecasting in software intensive businesses such as strategic, business, product and release planning and roadmapping.
My main strengths are a curious mind and eagerness to learn new things. I am solution oriented and proactive. I can also manage large entities and I take pride in taking initiatives to their goal using analytical thinking. I have excellent communication and people skills and I am active in networking and organising events. During my customer work, I have been described as service minded and positive.
Modern SW Development
Strategic Planning & Roadmapping
Recent Work Experience
Head of Degree Programme & Principal Lecturer at Lapland University of Applied Sciences
Principal lecturer in the Master Programme of Digital Business Management. My responsibilities include teaching and guiding master’s level students and conducting R&D activities such as participating to projects and conducting project preparation work. In addition, my responsibilities include various administrative tasks, such as scheduling of the studies, applications and organizing entrance exams, and development of the education tasks such as reforming of the master’s education.
Process Owner at OP Financial Group
06/2020 – 09/2021
Process owner to customer feedback and complaint processes in the area of Customer processes at OP Financial Group. I was responsible for defining, maintaining and developing processes and related practices, launching and implementing process-related reforms, and cooperating between different functions.
Leader of Oulu Office & Senior Consultant at Contribyte
05/2018 – 04/2020
As a Leader of Oulu Office
I established the Oulu office, acquired new customers and thereby created a solid customer base in the Oulu area. I created networks with various local actors such as Business Oulu and Kauppakamari.
I was responsible for the operational activities of the office including communication and marketing as well as sales activities from new customer acquisitions to maintaining customer relations. I was also responsible for managing most of the Contribyte’s customer projects held in Oulu.
I organised several networking and business events such as business breakfasts, meetups, and seminars. The largest seminar that I organised was Future of Product Development -seminar in Oulu 10.1.2019 involving around 150 people.
As a Senior Consultant
I coached companies related to product management (such as product strategy and portfolio management) and product development methods and practices such as agile, lean, SAFe (Scaled Agile Framework enterprise), Scrum, and Kanban.
I held trainings to product managers and owners about product management (e.g. Product Management 2.0, a three days training module), and I trained product development teams about agile project management and the use of Scrum and Kanban.
I created customer specific playbooks (i.e. handbooks) to companies about product development practices (i.e. agile, lean, SAFe, Scrum and Kanban) and about tools (i.e. Atlanssian Jira and confluence).
Senior Scientist at VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland
01/2017 – 04/2018
Project consortium leader and VTT’s project manager of an international project (ITEA3 project Establish) involving 15 partners from 6 different countries. Organised the activities and communication inside the consortium and reported results towards ITEA and Business Finland.
Substance node leader on financial technologies (Fintech) and retail competence area being responsible for the competency development on the area.
Member of Hilla Funding Services team in which I helped to produce a strong and convincing application for project idea, finding sources of funding, and connecting with network and partners. Also being active in networking and representation activities (e.g. SuomiAreena, seminars, events).
Member of Oulu Innovation Alliance (OIA) network being part of ICT and Digitalisation ecosystem. Organised Fintech meetings and events e.g. monthly Fintech Breakfasts and a Fintech seminar 17.1.2017.
Research relating to e.g. the air quality management (Establish project) and blockchain technology (Bond project).
Research Scientist at VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland
01/2007 – 04/2017
Research focusing on global software engineering and on software development methods, processes, and practices such as agile, lean, continuous deployment, and lean start-up in several projects involving various ICT companies. Also, research relating to planning and forecasting methods and practices in software intensive businesses relating to strategic, business, portfolio and product and release planning. I wrote several publications and PhD thesis about the topic.
Project manager in a customer contract projects. I was in charge of the team leadership and assigned tasks to team members, and communication the plans and results to the customer.
Active in project preparation work: Presented project ideas at several ITEA PO days, formed project consortiums and coordinated research project applications.
Research Trainee at VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland
01/2005 – 12/2006
Research relating to product roadmapping and requirements management and prioritisation. I wrote my Master’s Thesis titled: Product Roadmapping in Collaboration.
Research relating to global software development especially in inter-company collaboration and to software development standards such as ISO, CMMI and SWEBOK. I created content (i.e. solutions) to Merlin Handbook, which was a web-based handbook about global software development.
Salesperson at Stockmann
08/2001 – 01/2004
Chashier at Stockmann Herkku and salesperson at Stockmann Kiosk, and Bread & Bakery. I worked part-time at least 18 hours a week while studying at the university for the master’s program.
School Assistant at the School of Lohipato
08/2001 – 04/2002
Prepared lecture material and assisted the teacher during the lectures. Helped the students with special needs during the lectures to learn and organised activities to students also outside the lectures.
Professional Teacher Education Studies at Oulu University of Applied Sciences, Finland
06/2022 – 2/2023
Professional teachers training (60 ECTS). This official teacher's qualification diploma qualifies to teach my subject at all school levels.
PhD (Information Processing Science) at University of Oulu, Finland
01/2007 – 09/2016
Dissertation title: Changing the planning for agile and lean software development: From roadmapping to continuous planning
MSc (Software Business) at University of Oulu, Finland
08/2001 – 12/2006
Title: Product Roadmapping in Collaboration
Major subject: Information Processing Science
Minor subjects: Information and Communication Business, Marketing, and Education
Exchange studies at Technical University of Vienna, Austria
08/2003 – 06/2004
Matriculation examination, Secondary school of Kiiminki, Finland
Finnish: Native language
Certified SAFe 4 Agilist at Scaled Agile Inc.
Approved Board Member Training at Oulu Chamber of Commerce
(Hyväksytty Hallituksen Jäsen, Oulun Kauppakamari)
Positions of Trust in Society & Other Societal Merits
Member of the Higher Education Committee, Tekniikan akateemiset TEK, 10/2023–
Member of the General Council at TEK, Tekniikan akateemiset TEK, 08/2023–
Board Member in the Committee on Education at City of Oulu, 01/2023–
City Councilor at City of Oulu (National Coalition Party), 11/2022 –
Deputy Member of the Executive Board of BusinessOulu, 04/2022 –
Board Member in the Interface Committee (Yhdyspintalautakunta) at Pohjois-Pohjanmaan hyvinvointialue (Pohde), 03/2022 –
Deputy Member of the Regional Council at Pohjois-Pohjanmaan hyvinvointialue (Pohde), 03/2022 –
Board Member in the Committee on Education and Culture at City of Oulu, 08/2021–12/2022
Deputy City Councilor at City of Oulu, (National Coalition Party), 08/2021–11/2022
Additionally, I have been part of several organisational activities, e.g. member of the Oulu Innovation Alliance (OIA) and member of the Fintech SIG board. In OIA, I was involved in activities related to planning and organizing activities to ICT and digitalisation, such as Fintech Breakfasts and Fintech seminar in Oulu. Also, I have been active in the VTT Young professionals’ community and co-organiser of the events to young researchers at VTT.