Greetings from Alumni: Jussi Hirvelä, CIO at Senate Properties
17 January 2022
In the first part of our Greetings from Alumni series for 2022, you will meet Jussi Hirvelä, CIO at Senate Properties. Jussi has worked in the real estate, legal, and telecom industries, and during his time at Hannes between 2009 and 2014, he worked as head of IT being in charge of Hannes Snellman’s crossborder IT function.
Hi Jussi, how has the year 2022 started for you?
Pretty well, regardless of the ongoing COVID pandemic; in the field of IT, most things can be done remotely, but sitting at home all day and every day is really getting old. While I believe this pandemic will be more or less over at some point, I also think that this will permanently change the way we work, and the world will be more dependent on IT than ever before… so lots of interesting challenges ahead for us IT nerds.
You work as a CIO at Senate Properties. Can you tell us about your daily work and what is included in the responsibilities of a CIO?
As is the case with almost all leadership work today, I do most of my work in meetings: project steering groups, planning sessions, and workshops - basically interacting with people, creating strategies, plans, and roadmaps. My job is also to make sure that strategies turn into action and things go as planned; if not, I facilitate the troubleshooting and try to help by directing resources to the right places.
What was the biggest change when you moved from private practice to a government-owned property asset management organisation?
At first, the tempo of things was very, very different: in the real estate business, projects and business in general move slower, at least compared to the daily hurricane of the mergers & acquisitions practice. There is even a saying that for us in real estate, a quarter is 25 years, not three months. Lately though, the digitalisation of, well, everything from cleaning to construction has brought up the heartbeat of activities to more familiar readings and there is a lot going on.
Prior to Senate Properties, you worked as head of IT at Hannes. What was the best part of your work and how would you describe the IT team at Hannes?
This is an easy one: the people, both in the IT team and at Hannes in general. It was great to work with true professionals in a great company culture. The IT team at Hannes was great - good, talented people with the right attitude.
What advice would you now give to yourself if this was your first day at a law firm?
Do not, even for one second, wait for people to come and tell you what they want or what they expect: always try to be proactive and be one step ahead. Make plans, stay up to date on where tech and the world in general are going and have new stuff ready before people even know they are needed. That is what a professional does.
One theme which currently stands out in working life discussions is purpose at work. To conclude this interview, we would like to ask what are the things that keep you going and motivated in work – what is your purpose?
Another easy one: I work for Finland. In Senate Properties, we take care of the national wealth and cultural heritage we have in our buildings (museums, castles, office buildings, prisons…), and what we do is done with taxpayers’ money - yours and mine. That is why I also believe I can make a difference, as IT is one of the main factors of being efficient in all areas of operations. Incidentally, one crucial thing I picked up during my years in Hannes’s IT team has helped a lot, and that is the value of the tools and support processes for the modern knowledge worker: if the computer, connectivity, or smartphone does not work, the productivity drops like a rock. So, the smart move is to invest in the hardware and software and trim the support processes to the point where you can have the incidents solved preferably in minutes. Expensive? Not nearly as expensive as having people twiddling their thumbs for days, waiting for their essential tools to be fixed. And on that note, when the pandemic started, Senate Properties moved to the remote work overnight without breaking a sweat, which is something I am rather proud of.
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