Markus Särkiniemi: “It’s fun to encounter new challenges at work”
How X Factor, how you walk, and machine learning have in common with one another? Get to know the career story of our long-time senior software developer Markus and find out!
Finance, medicine, agriculture, data communications. For the last seven years, Senior Software Engineer Markus Särkiniemi has worked as a software developer on various projects involving a range of products and services.
“Coding is largely the same regardless of industry, but the context you’re coding in differs. Agriculture is very different from finance, but nowadays you need code to feed cows just as you do to move money around.”
Markus currently uses C# and WPF most in his work. What skills would you like to develop in the future?
“Website things like front-end development would be nice, when the time is right.”
Markus Särkäniemi’s interest in the software industry may very well be hereditary, at least in part.
“My dad also works in the industry. He didn’t push me towards it in any way, but when I went into further education, the software industry was such a clear choice that I didn’t even consider anything else.”
Markus has worked on many different projects in a number of jobs during his career.
“I started my career working with vehicle information systems at a summer job. It was interesting as I got to see product development and testing.”
After graduating, Markus began to work on a project at the University of Oulu which studied whether the way a person walks could indicate whether they would be successful on X Factor. Markus explains:
“First I watched auditions, then I made black-and-white silhouettes from the recordings and made clips in a certain format. Then I included machine learning. In the project, I used MATLAB’s machine learning algorithms to process the compilation of silhouette clips. Using machine learning ultimately gave better results than tossing a coin,” says Markus.
From the University of Oulu, Markus continued his career path to Nokia, where he worked on data communications, base stations, and radio development for a few years.
“At Nokia I worked on developing 5G. I worked with radio software that a phone connects to, and my days were spent on test programs and product development.”
After Nokia and data communications came the finance industry.
“I moved to Holvi, which was expanding to new international markets at the time. They needed people to design a payment system integration to integrate a new payment system into the existing one. I also made backoffice tools for the company’s office workers.”
Markus’ first project as a Softability consultant was for Thermo Fisher Scientific designing laboratory equipment.
“It involved user interface work, data processing, tools, visualisation,” says Markus, explaining the content of the project.
From the pharmaceutical industry, Markus took the leap to a company that worked with agriculture, where his job largely involved integration with a new third-party system. The integration was already well under way when Markus joined the project, and the product that Markus helped to develop was soon ready for store shelves.
“I mostly did back-end work, with some front-end stuff, too. The tasks were kind of leaning towards full-stack. I also debugged code and developed some new things.”
After a year working with agricultural software, Markus returned to Thermo, although to a different project than the one he had previously worked on. Markus says that his current job is still in the early stages, and there is lots to develop.
“I’m currently working on a project that develops different kinds of laboratory equipment. I use C# and WPF, and design the UI as necessary. My main focus is on UI development with WPF.”
Mostly working with user interfaces requires a certain kind of creative thinking and consideration of how to make the product easier to use. It’s rewarding to solve problems and come up with even better solutions.
“In this line of work, you really have to think about things that we think are self-evident actually work for users; how to make everything more intelligent for the user, and how to make the interface user-friendly.”
Above all, Markus needs to be able to carry out logical deduction, but his work also requires a touch of creativity, and somewhat of an eye for visual design.
“Usually the website or software design is pre-made for us, but if it isn’t, then you have to use your own judgement and creativity to decide which colour to make a button and where to put it.”
Markus wasn’t surprised by the nature of his job as a consultant, as he had seen how consultants work in his previous jobs.
How has it felt being a consultant?
“Great! I get to flexibly have a say on the things I work with. It’s easier to change up work without going through the hassle of find a new employer. Although the work varies, as a consultant, I get to keep my familiar colleagues.”
Markus says his ability to quickly learn new things is a strength.
“When I start a new project with a new codebase and everything, I’m able to pick them up without any issues. I can remember what goes where, why, and how relatively quickly.”
Where does Markus find his motivation?
“Problem-solving motivates me, as do new environments and things. It’s fun to find new challenges at work. There have been all kinds of challenges and problems to solve with UIs for example, figuring out how to do things intelligently. Every day is different, even though you sit at the computer tapping away.”
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