“I’ve driven around this campus so many times that I know it inside and out,” says Facility Secretary Kjell Grinden, describing his career at the University of Eastern Finland.
Currently, Grinden’s main duties involve the processing of applications for facility access rights and keys to the university's buildings. Applications are submitted by both staff and students, as well as by people outside the university. He also attends to the Timecon system, where the alarms and electronic doors of the buildings are managed. Various requests for maintenance, facility access rights and automatic locking of doors pass through Grinden’s desk.
“This is very meaningful, concrete and varied work, although I sometimes miss the driving.”
Straight to work from a language course
Grinden’s career at the university started some 20 years ago. The reason for his arrival in eastern Finland was his Finnish, then soon-to-be wife, whom Grinden had met in his home country, Norway. At first, the young couple lived in Norway, but decided to come to Finland for a year.
“I took a job alternation leave from my work in Norway and began studying Finnish in Joensuu.”
The year passed, but the Grinden family no longer felt like they wanted to go back.
“The language course organised by Aducate included an internship that I completed at Joensuu University Press, which at the time was still located on campus. My internship at the University Press went so smoothly that I ended up getting a real contract of employment.”
Grinden got to work in the University Press for four years, up until its operations on campus were closed down. After that, Grinden became a facilities management officer, with his responsibilities including mail and chauffeuring.
“I did a lot of chauffeuring for Perttu Vartiainen, the university’s Rector at the time. Perttu would often sit in the back working, and I remember him giving multiple interviews and statements to journalists from the back seat. But we had plenty of time to talk during those trips, and we always had a really nice time.”
Since then, Grinden’s responsibilities as a facilities management officer were focused on the Aurora Building and, more recently, to the university’s Keys Office - right when the COVID-19 lockdown started. Facilities Management Services was one of the few units to remain on campus when everyone else switched to remote work.
“There’s a really good atmosphere in our unit, and we have a very particular sense of humour. No one can manage everything alone: it's all about working together. And it's not just within our own walls, since we have a lot of external partners, too.”