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Our alumna Sirkka Hagman: My degrees are the result of strong motivation and perseverance

Published on 3.9.2021
updated on 25.11.2021
Tampere University
Sirkka Hagman from Lempäälä is not only a successful business multi-tasker but also an exceptionally hard-working student. She holds Master’s and Licentiate’s degrees in administrative science from the University of Tampere as well as a Master of Science and Doctor of Science degrees in engineering. She is currently working on a doctoral dissertation in the field of administrative science.

Hagman can be called a lifelong learner for a good reason. She has spent much of her adult life working and studying simultaneously. She cites her general interest and the significant synergy between work and studying as the main forces driving her hard work.

Her motivation for starting new studies has not come from the outside nor does she keep track of the number of degrees she has earned. Instead, she has had a great passion for understand things better and gaining more tools for her work.

“An exception to this was perhaps the Doctor of Science (Technology) degree. I just always thought it sounded like such a great and impressive title for a degree,” Hagman grins.

“But it took much work to complete it, which helped me to understand things and the bigger picture, and gave me many new tools for my work,” Hagman adds.

Support is important

In her present role as Vice President of Black Donuts Engineering, a tyre company, Hagman is responsible, among other things, for the company’s public relations and fund-raising. What she appreciates most about her job is the opportunity to work with some great people, including CEO Kai Hauvala and Martti Päivinen, Head of Quality and Risk Management, and many others. It has also given her the opportunity to get to know the heart and soul of a company that operates 100% internationally.

Hagman, who has been working for more than 40 years, is also writing her next doctoral dissertation on the reputation management, strategy, and leadership of a growth company. The first publication in the article-based dissertation is almost ready and the second is well under way. The impetus for starting the degree studies came from the fact that she had a practical case at hand which she wanted to study objectively. 

“I like to look at things from an objective, academic point of view because then it is not just my own subjective opinions. I have been very lucky to have Jari Stenvall, who also happens to be a former fellow student, as my supervisor. He is the perfect match for me. I am so strong-willed that I need a strong and outspoken, positive and talented supervisor,” says Hagman.

Hagman also gives a lot of credit for her achievements to the people who have supported and challenged her along the way at work, studies, and professional life. Hagman describes Mika Hannula, the supervisor of her doctoral dissertation in engineering, as a “mind-blowing supervisor” who was very practical and strongly work-life oriented, also in connection to Sirkka’s job at the time; it was easy to find common ground.

“This spring, I participated in a doctoral school, which was really useful and rewarding. We went through everyone’s work every week and received comments from both the professor and fellow students. I was an active participant especially as a listener. I really appreciate learning what is being studied in different fields now,” Hagman says.

Hagman values Tampere University for its exceptionally broad multidisciplinarity especially after the universities’ merger. She finds the University’s teaching of high level and thinks that the professors and other teachers have deep expertise.

Grit, perseverance, and a summer full of mathematics

Despite her impressive work and study history, Hagman is modest and down-to-earth. She describes herself as an “ordinary person” whose achievements are essentially the result of strong will and a tremendous amount of hard work and grit.

“Exciting studies and interesting work have always been very rewarding. I get a whole new perspective from them and feel I can discover totally new ways of thinking especially from other people and networks,” she says.

Hagman does not feel that she was born particularly talented, and as a child, she did not have role models with university degrees. Neither did she have special study techniques to help her find useful shortcuts. It has rather been a matter of being able to focus on the essentials and finding the right, supportive people.

“My degrees are the result of strong motivation, perseverance, good support from fellow students and teachers, and a huge amount of work. In particular, the engineering degree felt very demanding at the time, and I had to work very hard on maths and other subjects. I remember once spending the whole summer on maths calculations,” Hagman recalls.

Hagman encourages everyone to study, and she believes that her example shows it is possible for anyone in Finland. She does not intend to take on unnecessary pressure with her current dissertation but plans to write the articles at a pace that seems appropriate.

“I have not set a deadline for the completion of the degree. I am only studying for myself and as a hobby, so no profit motive is involved. I intend to be kind to myself,” Hagman says.


Text: Tiina Leivo
Picture: Jonne Renvall


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