Anne Mykkänen kävelee puistossa

Retirement changes one’s relationship with time

11.10.2022
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News article

Anne Mykkänen postponed her retirement for three years because her work in diagnostic services was interesting and particularly the organisation of COVID testing seemed meaningful. In April of 2022, she retired from her job. "I thought it would be nice to spend my retirement in good health."

“Had I known how popular I was, I would never have left," says Master of Science (Engineering) Anne Mykkänen jokingly. She refers to the speeches given by colleagues and partners at her farewell party at the end of April.

But jokes aside – now 66, Mykkänen could have retired almost three years ago. But she did not think it was the right moment. Her work at HUS Helsinki University Hospital was too interesting. She had just moved from the position of Director at HUS Imaging to head the Clinical Chemistry and Microbiology profit centre of the HUS Diagnostics Centre when COVID landed in Finland. The microbiology unit was responsible for COVID analytics. Mykkänen started to organise COVID testing with her own team and partners in a hurry.

“The Finns are so wonderfully trustworthy: what is agreed will be done," Mykkänen says, describing the cooperation with HUSLAB sampling and analytics and other functions.

The contrast between the initial organisation of COVID testing and Mykkänen’s present situation is stark. There is no longer any rush. Mykkänen enjoys her morning coffee and reads the paper in her own time. She is the daughter of a farmer and used to working from an early age. A walk by the sea and a Pilates class in the middle of the day now seem like a luxury to her.

Mykkänen started discussing her retirement with her supervisor last autumn. The supervisor urged her to consider postponing retirement – she would also be welcome to continue working. Although still interested in the job, Mykkänen decided to make room for younger professionals.

“I thought it would be nice to spend my retirement in good health. My financial situation was good, and I had been working all my life.”

Mykkänen is pleased that she took her time to take the decision to retire. She advises all those approaching retirement age to do the same.

The advice that changed everything

Anne Mykkänen's advice to young people starting out in their careers is: “Be active.” In Mykkänen's experience, a master’s degree in engineering can lead to a wide variety of jobs, depending on one’s interests. The world is full of opportunities. This was a piece of advice Mykkänen herself received at a young age – and it changed the direction of her career completely.

Be active. The world is full of opportunities.

Mykkänen was originally going to be an architect. At school she was good at maths, chemistry, physics and art. She realised that architecture offered the opportunity to combine visual and technical skills. After graduating from upper secondary school in 1975, Mykkänen got a summer job at the Aarno Ruusuvuori architectural firm. Mykkänen was charged with the firm’s daily errands, and, at the same time, she was able to observe the work of experienced architects.

“Ruusuvuori encouraged me to study for a master’s degree in engineering­. The career opportunities would be broader than those of an architect," Mykkänen recalls.

She started studying textile and materials technology at the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the Tampere University of Technology­. There were few female students and Mykkänen felt that the teaching staff did not take them seriously.

“The attitude seemed to be that the girls were there just to watch.”

Gender was also an issue when Mykkänen applied for her first job in the industry in 1981. Mykkänen was even told outright that she would not be hired because she was a woman.

“At the time, I thought that maybe I wasn't cut out for those jobs. Now I know I would have done quite well.”

Mykkänen says that she has not had any problems finding employment since she got her first job. Quite the opposite, in fact: headhunters have been reaching out to her.

“I recommend getting work experience from a wide range of jobs. You can learn something useful from every job. It's important not to get stuck in problems.”

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Anne Mykkänen
Anne Mykkänen says that a manager's job is to maintain a good team spirit – to create an atmosphere in which people are motivated to work. "They don't teach that at university, at least they didn’t in my time," she says.

There is a solution to every problem

Product development has always been close to Anne Mykkänen's heart. From 1989 to 2002, Anne Mykkänen worked in product development and marketing of sterile surgical products, surgical textiles and wound care products. Initially, her employer in Finland was Kolmi-Set Oy, a subsidiary of Tamro, and then, following an acquisition, Mölnlycke Health Care Ab in Gothenburg, Sweden. There she worked as Assistant Manager of the surgical division.

This work allowed Mykkänen to visit several operating theatres and observe the performance of the company's products: whether a new material absorbed blood and whether an orthopaedic set worked correctly.

She gives an example: nurses complained that when opening the packaging of sterile products, a pungent smell was emitted, giving the nurses a headache. Mykkänen and her team looked to the food industry for a solution. There, oxygen is sucked out of food packaging to preserve the product better. Mykkänen's team tried the same method for sterile product packaging, and the problem was solved: when the oxygen was replaced with a small amount of nitrogen, the smell was gone. This idea was patented, and production lines were adapted accordingly.

“I try to be optimistic and approach things with a sense of humour. What I have learned in my career is that there is a solution to every problem.”

Don't get stuck with a lousy boss

Anne Mykkänen has been held supervisory positions at several companies and the lesson she has learned is that you should not rush into management positions – rather, you will grow into them when the time is right. Her advice to new supervisors is: if your employee is not performing well, you should support them, because they will feel bad if they cannot get the job done.

If you have a lousy boss, don't get stuck in the situation, move on.

“It is up to management to enable people to do their jobs and create a good working atmosphere.”

Mykkänen stresses that the relationship with the supervisor must be in order. She herself has had only one incompetent supervisor in her entire career – this supervisor did not trust anyone and was afraid that someone would take their place.

“If you have a lousy boss, don't get stuck in the situation, move on," she advises her younger colleagues.

Mykkänen's advice for future pensioners

  • Take your time to decide on retirement.
  • Plan what you will do in retirement, but don't take on too many activities.
  • Focus on maintaining your health.

Mykkänen's advice for those starting their careers

  • Try to gain work experience from a wide range of jobs.
  • Try to approach things with optimism and a sense of humour.
  • Look ahead, don't get stuck in the past.
  • Treat others with respect.
  • Be proactive about your career.
  • Don’t rush into management positions, you will grow into them when the time is right.

TEK services for pensioners

The membership fee for TEK pensioner members is EUR 45 per year. In addition, the magazine fee entitles you to two Alma Talent magazines. The magazine fee is EUR 69 per year in addition to the membership fee. Please let us know of your retirement at member@tek.fi. The change will take effect from the beginning of the following

month. 

Pensioner members receive the TEK magazine, a TEK pocket planner or wall calendar, discounts on insurance and the opportunity to participate in various events. 

TEK also offers Nextmile online training (in Finnish) to its members who are considering retirement.

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