People story

People of Solita: Machine Learning Engineer, Satu Korhonen

Satu Korhonen Machine Learning Engineer, Solita

Published 03 Feb 2023

Reading time 5 min

Meet our People of Solita. We have over 1600 employees in different locations with different skills and backgrounds – each with a story to share about what they do and what inspires them. This is Satu, our Machine Learning Engineer based in Turku, Finland.

People matter most

I landed my dream job when I joined Solita in October 2022. During my interview process I was impressed with how well I was being taken care of. My future supervisor was responsible for the process and contact with me and at every turn, he informed me of what was going on and answered my questions. This care has continued ever since making sure I am doing well and have any help I may need. It continues in every meeting starting with how everyone is doing and in a culture where feedback and making connections is actively encouraged and also done. The importance of people and the care shown here by everyone is remarkable and is seen in so many little things that allow all of us to be who we are and feel supported in what we do.

From education to machine learning, from data insights to data insights

I didn’t start my career in machine learning but in education. I fell in love with wrangling data and extracting insights out of it while working on my PhD in education and participating in research projects. However, in education, places that focus on data are very rare, so I worked on research projects, as a researcher and a project manager, and also in teaching. In around 2016, when my eldest child was three, I started closely following the development of AI technologies and their social impacts. At that time it was quite clear to me that it is one of the technologies that will be shaping our culture and lives in the future and especially the lives of our children. Furthermore, artificial intelligence was already changing it to some extent with for example recommendation algorithms influencing what we see and find out about the world.

Around this time ethical issues with AI started making headlines with problems in transparency and biases against different groups of people. In 2018, and as a mother of two, I came to a crossroads where I had a choice to make. Either I can just continue watching from the sidelines the development of this deeply fascinating, but sometimes problematic, field or jump in both feet first and participate in its development. I decided to change professions and aimed at becoming a machine learning engineer with a focus on ethical and trustworthy AI.

I studied a lot while working. I think I got enough credits in four years to have a bachelor’s degree and I finished a Master of Engineering degree in Artificial Intelligence in the summer of 2022. In my working life, I transitioned into the IT field through gradually more technical jobs with the help of mentors guiding my way and friends supporting me and keeping my head together with raising two kids at the same time. I got a good technical experience in data engineering at my previous position as a Data Warehouse Consultant and transitioned in that company to work in AI.

Focusing on what I truly believe in

I came to Solita because of its strong emphasis and focus on ethical AI. It is the first company I know of that has a head of Sustainable, Anna Metsäranta, with whom I have had the great delight to work closely with since joining. I have gotten the privilege to participate and contribute to creating best practices in what it means to build sustainable and trustworthy AI solutions that bring long term business value. My main contribution up to this point has been in creating a framework we use to evaluate the sustainability and maturity of an organizations machine learning operations and models and document them in a way that is easy to maintain. It is also a good tool for developing a roadmap for strengthening the maturity of machine learning operations and documenting the models used and the details needed to remain compliant for the upcoming AI Act.

Building solutions that utilize machine learning in a way that is trustworthy, accountable, and ethical is, I think, somewhat of a life’s purpose for me now. It is a complex field that is closely connected with areas such as company culture, strategy, societal impacts and culture, technical aspects and development, and many others. It requires many people coming together and looking at it from different viewpoints. In Solita, to my absolute delight, we have that. It is a topic that interests many in this company and together we are creating something I am truly delighted to be a part of.

Supported every step of the way and thriving

I have been in Solita now for approximately four months and am looking forward to a good many more. Coming into a new field is not easy. The terminology in IT is confusing as it is constantly changing and people seem to love abbreviations. There is a lot to learn with technologies developing at the pace they do in machine learning. As my path is different from the norm, I have gaps in unexpected places that sometimes hamstring me. So, for me to thrive, having people around me I can ask to explain something or show me to do something is important and here everyone I have had the opportunity to work with is always willing to help and share their expertise.

I really enjoy the working atmosphere where the people are seen and treated as the most important asset, where the wellbeing of everyone is of the utmost importance, and peoples’ personal goals for growth are actively considered. The expertise of my colleagues is deeply inspiring, and I have so many opportunities to learn. I have the freedom to work where I work best which means often working from home with my puppy reminding me to take breaks during the workday to play and get some air. Going into the office always offers company during lunch breaks and sometimes a boardgame or two if I’m lucky.

We are constantly looking for new colleagues to join our caring community! Take a look at our open positions!

Satu Korhonen
  1. Culture