Blog 2.10.2019

A love for mathematics led the way

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I have worked in tech all my professional life. In high school that was not my plan though. I dreamed about studying the English language and becoming a translator. Luckily, I didn’t get in when applying to university :D

It can be said that my career is more or less a coincidence. And it has been affected by two men, my father and my high school math teacher. My father gave me an example of how easy and fun mathematics can be and my high school teacher encouraged (or pushed) me to apply to study mathematics at university (even though it was only my second choice). Fortunately, I got in and have not regretted a single day. At the age of 19, I could not imagine what a future in the technology industry would bring, and it has been quite a journey.

I had always loved mathematics in school and when I started my studies at university it was quite a shock. I soon realized that mathematics is a lot of work. But it is worth it, trust me. Hard work has been the key to my success throughout my career. There is no way you can quit and say this is not working. You just have to try another approach and there will always be a solution. It might not be what you thought it would be, but things will work out one way or another. Studying mathematics has taught me a lot of problem-solving skills and a logical way of thinking – things that are still at the core of technology and software development.

At that time (in the early 90’) there was no subject called computer science, it was called applied mathematics. But I loved it and felt I had found my home. Creating software was inspiring and there were a lot of things to learn. It was so much fun trying to find a bug in the program and fix it. Or maybe I just have a crooked mind. Still today I sometimes miss the times when I was writing code.

After I finished my studies (in the mid 90’), I ended up working for Nokia. It was a ride that lasted almost 16 years. I started in coding, did some project management tasks and ended up doing standardization and technology insights. I got to travel around the world, work in different roles and learnt a lot. I admit, when I (finally) got the notice of employment termination in November 2011, I felt relieved. One door closed and another opened for me.

After being unemployed I planned to stay at home with my 2-year-old daughter, but another coincidence happened and changed my plans. I had applied to a study program and is had an internship as part of the program. In the first info session about the program, the organizer told me that they had already sent my CV to Gofore for the internship and that I had an interview with them the next day. In that interview I said that I didn’t need any study program and that I wanted to work for Gofore without any internship. Two weeks later I signed a contract. So, I ended up working for Gofore without ever even applying to the company. And once again I have not regretted a single day. It has now been 7,5 years.

I was hired as a software developer and I got to write code and find bugs for the first 3 years at Gofore. I was also handling some project management tasks and gradually shifted totally onto that path. Currently my title is technical project manager and I’m so proud of it. I get to work actively with customers to find out their actual needs. And as I have a coding background it gives me a lot of understanding on the technical details and restrictions that might need to be considered with the customer. And the other way around, I can make the message from a technical level more understandable for the customer. So, my job is mostly communication.

Throughout my career my background in mathematics and problem-solving has helped me. Problems vary and nowadays they are not technical, but still there is always a solution for them. And it is my job to find it. Even though I didn’t get into studying English, I ended up as a translator. A translator between customers and software developers.

The best advice I’ve ever received was from my high school math teacher: “There are too many linguists, but the world needs mathematicians”.
Mathematics is not just for boys. And studying it will help you no matter where your career takes you. Logical thinking and problem-solving skills are essential in almost all occupations. I hope I can be an example of that to my daughter.


Read the previous parts of this Women in tech blog series here:
Subconscious career design
Value your skills – they are needed in tech
My career in tech – a continuous learning curve
Finding my own material to design
Working as a woman in tech


women in tech

Jaana Majakangas

Jaana is Gofore's technical project manager. She has twenty years of experience in a variety of roles within the IT industry including extensive knowledge of the public sector and how digitalisation can benefit society.

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