Kerkko Vanhanen is set to assume the position of the new programme director of Smart Kalasatama at Forum Virium. We sat down with Kerkko to ask him about the direction that he intends to take with the development of Helsinki’s most famous smart city district.

How has your career so far prepared you for managing Smart Kalasatama? 

“I’ve spent a large part of my career doing work that has been in some way connected to the City of Helsinki. Between 2012 and 2017, I managed the development and maintenance of public transport information services at HSL. Through that position I have been closely involved in digital service development, as well as in opening up data and facilitating the business operations of third parties. For the past year, I’ve been working in the private sector as the managing director of a consultancy of around a dozen employees.”

“I’ve always been interested in urban development from the perspective of a stimulating urban environment, efficient logistics and smart mobility – which is why my studies for my Master of Science in Technology, encompassing traffic technology in the field of engineering, city development in the field of architecture and logistics in the field of industrial engineering, form an ideal combination for this programme director’s position as well. I can provide Forum Virium with enthusiastic leadership and expertise. I believe that my innovation- and customer-oriented attitude as well as my human-centric management style will also contribute to my success in the position.”

In what direction do you intend to develop the smart city district of Kalasatama?

“At first I intend to familiarise myself with the Smart Kalasatama roadmap and talk with people who are better versed in the subject about what we should focus our efforts on first and foremost. It would be great to be able to offer the story of ‘From experimentation to success and multiplication’ to various pilot projects. I find it natural to serve as an interpreter between technical engineering people and those responsible for commercial or service operations and marketing. I feel that my role, together with our team, is first and foremost to help in the application of technology for the purpose of responding to various customer needs and commercial objectives.”

What is the most interesting aspect of smart city development?

“My actions have always been steered by the aim of trying to make sure that the development being conducted can be genuinely utilised in different areas of everyday life: from idea to experimentation to sustainable implementation, from piloting to productisation and from project to business. In the Smart Kalasatama project, I am interested not only in smart mobility and logistics, but also in the 3D-modelling, sustainable energy solutions, smart facility usage and continuous learning that support them. It is great that Helsinki has been able to profile itself as an international frontrunner in these areas.”

What do you do in your spare time?

“I live in Pitäjänmäki in Helsinki. My work is balanced by my family and sports. My family includes my wife, my 8-year-old daughter and my 5-year-old son. Being able to spend time, do outdoor activities and go swimming with them is very important to me. I also play basketball, which, I’m happy to say, my daughter is also into. In the winter, I try to get in at least a brief stint of downhill skiing on proper snow.”

What made you apply for a position at Forum Virium Helsinki?

“Over the past year, I’ve learned an important thing about myself career-wise: I want to work near the resident and consumer interface and do work that has a direct impact on the convenience of people’s everyday lives. I believe that I can do just that at Forum Virium, in addition to contributing to the development of a more functional Helsinki.”

Congratulations on your new position, Kerkko. Let’s make Helsinki the most functional smart city in the world together!