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Quality work in our daily lives: developing training to meet the needs of customers and partners

Published on 7.2.2023
Tampere University
Andrea Alvarez-Tarjasalo ja Mika Kurki
Andréa Alvarez-Tarjasalo, Director of Customer Relationships & B-B Marketing at Mehiläinen. Mika Kurki, Head of Unit, Tree – Continuing Education Services, Tampere University.
Tampere University is currently preparing for an audit of its quality management system. The audit will be carried out by the Finnish Education Evaluation Centre FINEEC in spring 2023. This series of articles, Quality in our daily lives, describes how quality management is reflected in our daily actions and in the work of members of the University community. According to Mika Kurki, Head of Unit at Tree – Continuous Learning Services at Tampere University, the key is to build effective training packages together with customers. Andréa Alvarez-Tarjasalo, Director of Customer Relationships & B-B Marketing, is satisfied with the training tailored to Mehiläinen; the training was developed through collaboration to meet their needs.

“For Mehiläinen as a provider of healthcare services, the last few years have been a time of growth,” Andréa Alvarez-Tarjasalo says. In a growing organisation, there is a need to develop skills and strengthen customer understanding. This need was met by the Key Account Manager Certification Training, which ran from June to November 2022 in collaboration with Tree – Continuous Learning Services at Tampere University.

“The aim of the training was to further strengthen the skills of Account Managers in leading and meeting the needs of major customers. There were three aspects: motivation, strengthening of skills and supporting the career path,” Alvarez-Tarjasalo mentions.

Head of Unit Mika Kurki at Tree – Continuous Learning Services at Tampere University, notes that the trainings are always based on combining the latest research knowledge with practical case examples from working life. Implementing trainings requires solid expertise related to dialogue with customers to clarify the themes and goals of training and coaching.

“Building a pedagogically sound training package and finding the best trainers for each topic within our networks is our core competence. We have access to expert knowledge of all fields of education at the University as well as other national and international trainer networks,” Kurki says.

Expertise and added value for a customer organisation’s activities

Alvarez-Tarjasalo says that the planning started with what was needed and why. Tampere University was selected as the partner after a call for tenders.

“A specialist from the University had visited our company before and our team felt we reached a good understanding. The specialist had a strong theoretical background, but also a good understanding of business perspective and the needs of customers,” Alvarez-Tarjasalo mentions.

She emphasises that understanding business operations is an added value that the University could offer even more to companies and students as part of their studies. In her view, the best value of the training for Mehiläinen was taking time to think about things together: in addition to theoretical background, discussions and exercises on concrete tools such as customer plans and communication were useful. Alvarez-Tarjasalo believes that the lessons learnt from the training will be transferred into practice and will have an impact.

“It is still too early to assess the impact in more detail, but we have gained new knowledge and tools that we will use,” she points out.

Smooth collaboration and discussion of feedback

According to Alvarez-Tarjasalo, the planning and implementation of the training was easy. The contact person for the training at Tree – Continuous Learning Services was quick to take note of ideas and took the “lead” in making sure things went smoothly: “I felt that it went really well,” Alvarez-Tarjasalo says.

She also found it effective that feedback on the training was collected and discussed after each training session. The feedback was heard and had an impact.

According to Kurki, feedback is especially important in the development of commissioned training, as it can be used to redirect training along the way or to tailor it further in relation to expectations and needs.

Alvarez-Tarjasalo says that as a whole, she has been satisfied with the training and the collaboration with Tampere University. There are also ideas for further co-operation.

Audit also adds value for students and partners

Tampere University’s quality management system will be audited in spring 2023. The focus will be on the procedures used by the University to maintain and improve the quality of its operations (FINEEC 2019. The audit manual for higher education institutions 2019–2024).

In Alvarez-Tarjasalo’s experience, audits provide an unbiased view of how well an organisation is doing in terms of processes and activities. It is also important to work on the identified improvement needs. She emphasises, that auditing in itself is not the point: “It has to be turned into added value for customers, whether they are students or companies.”

Kurki says it is easy for him to agree. “The role of auditing is to help us identify and evolve in adding value for our customers,” he adds.

Text: Piia Tienhaara and Terhi Yliniemi 


More information on quality management and auditing:

Contact persons:  

  • Development Manager Leena Ahrio, leena.ahrio [at] (leena[dot]ahrio[at]tuni[dot]fi), tel. +358 40 190 1535 
  • Chief Specialist, Operations Management Terhi Yliniemi, terhi.yliniemi [at] (terhi[dot]yliniemi[at]tuni[dot]fi), tel. +358 40 849 0469