Close-up of Tampere3 Director of Project Management Ilkka Haukijärvi


Ilkka Haukijärvi took up his appointment as Director of Project Management in January. He is in charge of project management in Tampere3.

Ilkka Haukijärvi, the new director of project development, has two goals.

“Firstly, the basic aspects constituting the new university community that will start operations in January 2019 must reach a sufficient quality by the end of this year. Secondly, we must also look further into the future and define solid long-term goals as well as explore and take concrete measures that will take us steps closer to those goals. An important message is that we will not complete our work by the end of 2018; this is just the beginning,” Haukijärvi says.

“These goals are central to my role. The peak of the mountain lies distant in the horizon. I think that in a few years we can look back and see how interesting and illuminating this journey was, and how it resulted in an outstanding higher education community in so many different ways. A strong culture embracing collaboration, exploration and continuous learning – a great asset when it comes to competitive advantage – will be created and strengthened through the common successes – and failures – in the coming years,” Haukijärvi continues.

As director of project management and development, Haukijärvi works closely with the Tampere3 project managers, various working groups and the project office (PMO), with a special responsibility for project management. From the operational point of view, important internal stakeholders and collaborators include the working groups that prepare research, education and support services and, of course, the student unions of the three higher education institutions.

“I strive to remove as many obstacles as possible from the path of the Tampere3 project organisation and want to encourage and support people to achieve both short and long-term goals. I would also like to see many students take part in our diverse development projects as they offer a great platform to learn hands on and to have an impact on our higher education community,” Haukijärvi explains.

Career in higher education

Haukijärvi has worked at Tampere University of Applied Sciences (TAMK) for nearly ten years. Over the years, he has become familiar with the development of diverse areas, such as knowledge management, curriculum design, skills development, learning environments and information systems, support services, enterprise architecture, enterprise resource planning, quality management, strategic management, and leadership roles.

Ilkka Haukijärvi

  • Haukijärvi earned his Doctor of Philosophy degree (in organisation’s information systems) at the University of Tampere in 2016. The topic of his dissertation was strategising digitalisation in a Finnish higher education institution.
  • He also earned his Master’s and Licentiate’s degrees at the University of Tampere and completed Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in applied sciences on project management and information systems. He has also completed the Specialist Qualification in Management programme.
  • He has previously worked as director of digitalisation and knowledge management at Tampere University of Applied Sciences.
  • In 2011–2016, he also worked as a part-time lecturer in Master’s degree studies at TAMK.
  • He is married and has an 11-year-old daughter, and 7- and 6-year-old sons, and a miniature schnauzer.
  • His hobbies are CrossFit, other sports, and films.

“At the beginning of my career in higher education, I first worked as an expert and project manager. I then moved on to lead teams, units, and development processes permeating the whole organisation, which all responded to the ongoing period of transition in higher education. I have also gained experience in both national and international R & D projects in education. I find that starting my career in the middle of the then ongoing TAMK-PIRAMK merger was a useful experience for developing my competences. That process gave me many pragmatic lessons on transition situations from the point of view of individuals, teams and organisations,” Haukijärvi says.

Developing digital strategy

In the recent years, Haukijärvi has worked as a development manager and subsequently as the director in charge of digitalisation and knowledge management, at TAMK. He has also worked with issues related to the development of digital education and learning environments, and creating a digital strategy.

“One of my more significant duties was being in charge of the digital strategy process. Work on the digital strategy for the whole TAMK began in the autumn of 2014, and it was a very meaningful process because it was a very comprehensive strategy cross-cutting the whole TAMK organisation,” Haukijärvi says.

“In the digital strategy, we did not only focus on digitalisation but also on its effects on the university and ways to respond to it in the strategic development of the whole organisation. Among other things, that work provided guidelines for curriculum design, development of learning environments, knowledge management services and development of related solutions, development of operational processes and support services, capacity building, internal development practices, and the development of information systems. My doctoral research was also linked to the digital strategy work,” Haukijärvi explains.

Putting plans to practice, preparing the Day1 package

The following months will be challenging for Haukijärvi in project management.

“This year will be spent working with intense, tangible development efforts because a great number of various development projects will be systematically furthered in research, education, societal impact, and support services. We will make decisions related to all these areas at an accelerated rate this spring, and the decision-making needs to be agile in order to ensure efficient development. During the spring and summer of 2018, we must especially ensure that the so-called Day1 projects (projects that must be completed by the end of the year) are running on schedule. It is also likely that we will have to take a critical look at how we prioritise the projects in order to ensure that we will have sufficient resources,” Haukijärvi explains.

“As regards project management, models and tools, such as project support and portfolio management, we will also refine those in order to facilitate our work,” Haukijärvi says.

“All in all, this is a year of decision-making and putting things into practice – and us pulling together – a year of creating the solid foundation we need for achieving our ambitious goals.

Text: Ida Vahtera
Photo: Jonne Renvall