"Mato, come look - There's a female nerd here!"

HiQ's software designer Marketta Priha is the third generation master of engineering. For her, software development gives the same pleasure as solving crosswords.

HiQ's software engineer Marketta Priha is a third-generation Master of Science in engineering. Her parents, father's father, husband, daughter, and daughter’s husband have all chosen the same education. In many of her workplaces, Marketta has been the only woman, but her gender has never caused her to be belittled, although it has evoked intrigue - especially in the early days of her career.

In the late 90s, Marketta was visiting Wapit, a WAP-focused software company developing mobile services. Pekka Palin, CEO of Wapit, excitedly exclaimed after meeting Marketta to his colleague Mato Valtonen: "Mato, come look, there's a female nerd here!" Marketta found the attitude a little confusing, although respectful.

Marketta has never considered herself a 100% nerd, because many other things, such as handicrafts, have interested her equally. However, due to her mathematical talents and family tradition, the choice of Teknillinen Yliopisto (now Aalto University) seemed obvious. However, she only knew that she would end up with a master's degree in information technology after participating in the mandatory Basic course in Otaniemi.

"Software development was not considered an actual engineering field at the time, so the choice was exceptional, although already possible for a production economy student. Software development gives me the same pleasure as doing crosswords."

Marketta has always been fascinated by the usability of products and services: she once served as the team leader of the user interface (UI) team for standards and UI inspections before learning to become a Java backend developer. She started at HiQ in 2003 because she had heard good recommendations from the company and the position allowed her to use Java backend competence. At that time, Marketta was slightly over 40 years old.

"HiQ seemed like a suitable company, with a good spirit, an honest atmosphere, and a low hierarchy. I did wonder if they might think I'm too old already. At that time there were thirty employees, two of whom were women."

Over the course of 20 years, Marketta has been able to witness how, alongside growth, established development methods have been formed and giant leaps in productivity made. She also has in total over 300 colleagues today in Finland alone. Work is done using agile methods, and software frameworks and libraries help to do work faster, focusing on business logic. There is always something new to study in the vast field of technology. For example, cyber security issues and new, safer identification methods have been developed.

Empathetic sense of technology

Marketta feels her strength at work is her ability to reason and manage large entities. "I understand the small pieces of the whole that interact with each other," she describes.

A consultant also needs strong interaction skills to give and receive constructive feedback and get the job done. When working with already existing systems, consultants must first be able to read and understand how someone else has done the work and why. By understanding others' logic, it is possible to correct and, if necessary, copy working methods.

"The consultant cannot say that everything done before is wrong, but you have to step into customers' shoes and look at the issue gently. You can't always start from scratch and do it yourself, you have to be able to work on a fast schedule while respecting the work of others."

Marketta is enjoying a 30-hour work week, which enables her to recover and keep up her enthusiasm for continuous self-development. At HiQ, flexible working hours are encouraged. Thanks to the shorter work week, Marketta has time to support her 96-year-old mother and the 9 and 5-year-old grandchildren who come over weekly. Somedays, the work day only lasts 4 hours, and that's okay.

Sometimes Marketta feels stressed about unfinished projects too much and works late. Over time its become more and more important for her to get things done, even though she doesn't feel much pressure from the client or employer.

"Before, it was easier to leave work and go home. All in all, I think my productivity is at least as good as before. Experience helps to do things right at once."

Thank you for reading Marketta's story! Hope you enjoyed it. This article is a part of the #HiQPeople series, which showcases hiqers' life stories & personas beyond the job titles.

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