Working in Digital Services of the University of Eastern Finland, Mari Lackman is pleased with the university's equal and open-minded atmosphere.
“In this line of work, the most important skill is to be able to get along with different people and to accommodate each user’s needs with different technical solutions. This is also why we should have as many different personalities on the workforce as possible,” IT Specialist Mari Lackman of the University of Eastern Finland’s Digital Services says.
Lackman’s job description involves administering and developing the university’s Microsoft 365 environment. In addition, various software and applications, such as email and Teams, and their information security, are part of her job.
“Many internal service requests and incidents also land on my desk. If, for example, our first line of support is unable to resolve a customer issue, they escalate it second line support, and that’s us.”
According to Lackman, the benefits of working in a large community include that people are given opportunities to familiarise themselves with different technologies, experiment with various things, and deploy them.
“When I first came to the university from the private sector, people would tell me that everything here is slow, inflexible and bureaucratic. But that hasn’t been true at all! In a big organisation, some things will of course take time, but that’s not entirely bad. Quite the contrary: well-thought-out rules often come in handy.”
In any case, Lackman feels that the atmosphere in the university’s Digital Services is both forward-thinking and open to reforms.
“Thanks to our most recent directors, we’ve taken brave steps forward, and in some regards, we’re actually pioneers in the academic world. Another very positive thing is that we work in teams, which makes it easier and even gives confidence to implement various reforms, and having a team also means that you don’t have to figure things out all on your own.”
The team will negotiate and consider different perspectives, and everyone brings their expertise to the table.
“We have experts specialising in Linux, Windows and data communications, for example. Everyone must also have a really good grasp of information security issues, that is, all admins must always monitor the environment also from the viewpoint of safe and secure data processing.”
Best support for teaching and research staff
According to Lackman, the scope of IT work has expanded in recent years, involving more and more internal collaboration. Projects are carried out together with the university’s units.
“With Student and Learning Services, and with Communications and Media Relations, for example, we are keeping a close eye on what’s happening and what’s new in the world of Microsoft. Together, we’re trying to identify possible benefits for our students, teachers or researchers.”
For Lackman, being able to provide support for education and research is a major motivator.
“For my part, I want to contribute to our staff and students having the best possible technical support and the capabilities they need to do their work.”
Back when Lackman was still a student, and during the early days of her career, she was used to often being the only woman in IT.
“When I joined the university, I was actually a bit surprised by how many women we have in Digital Services. In my experience, we employ more women than IT departments or IT sector companies on average. Gender equality is well realised here.”
Flexibility goes both ways
Another thing Lackman praises her employer for is flexibility. Widespread introduction of multi-location work has contributed to her work-life balance in a new way.
“Thanks to flexible working hours, I can do things I enjoy more flexibly and when it suits me.”
Lackman does a variety of sports, and skiing in particular is a hobby that’s nice when it’s still bright outside.
“I have a new puppy at home, and I’m now seriously obsessed with all things Elkhound. I have a hunting licence, and I’m also a certified elk hunting trial judge, so I’m really looking forward to my dog getting a bit older so we can go hunting.”
With days getting longer and brighter, Lackman is also thinking about signing up for the tax-free bike benefit the University of Eastern Finland introduced for its staff a year ago.
“I admit that I do follow what’s going on and what’s new in my field also on my free time. Since my employer is flexible towards me, I feel I can keep up with this rapidly evolving field on my own time.”
Mari Lackman is one of the 13 IT Specialists working at the University of Eastern Finland. (Situation in December 2022)