Exchange experience spawned an international collaboration project
"I can honestly say that the reason why I returned to
a career in research can be partly attributed to my Finnish
colleagues, with whom I worked a decade ago and whom
I trusted. I knew that as a researcher I could revisit the country."
Dr. Takeshi Takahashi enjoyed his stay in Finland so much that years after the experience he started contemplating a career change that would allow him to revisit Finland.
Takahashi spent the years 2002-2004 at Tampere University of Technology, first as a visiting researcher and student sponsored by a Japanese ministry and then as a researcher.
From consulting to a world of research
Takahashi obtained a PhD from Waseda University in Tokyo in 2005. He specialized in cybersecurity from the user's perspective. His dissertation was largely based on research that he conducted during his exchange period in Finland.
After completing his dissertation, Takahashi served as a consultant for the German company Roland Berger Strategy Consultants. In 2009, he joined Japan's National Institute of Information and Communications Technology (NICT) as a researcher.
"Consulting provided me with diverse experience, but I realized that research is more rewarding for me. I see a research career as an opportunity to make a real difference in people's lives and engage in genuine communication."
Working at TUT proved an invaluable experience
When Takahashi first arrived in Finland, he knew very little about the country.
"There was no doubt in my mind that I wanted to study abroad. Finland was the IT hub of the world in the early 2000s, but I couldn't even name the capital of Finland."
Takahashi says that the decision to go on exchange and select Finland as the destination was the best decision he has ever made.
"I got so much out of the experience that I recommend that all students seek international exposure."
Takahashi was especially attracted to the laid-back pace of life in Finland, the complete opposite of the hectic bustle of Tokyo.
"Peaceful flow of life, a profound sense of trust within the community and the absence of excessive bureaucracy", he summarizes the benefits of living in one of the northernmost countries in the world.
In addition, Takahashi found ice-hockey while staying in Finland.
"I was watching a group of people play ice-hockey in the park and one time I just decided to join them. I received a very warm welcome."
WHO: Takeshi Takahashi
- 32-year-old Expert Researcher who lives in Tokyo, Japan.
- Completed a PhD at Waseda University, Tokyo, in 2005.
- Used to work as a consultant and is now pursuing research. He has the job of his dreams, but may combine research activities with something else later on in his career.
- Hobbies include skiing, tennis, swimming and ice hockey.
- Enjoys travelling and has travelled widely across the globe. Plans to focus on three countries from now on: Finland, Germany and the USA.
- Interesting titbit: He can easily spot a Finn speaking English and recognize a Finnish face in a crowd anywhere in the world.
Collaboration between Finland and Japan
NICT and TUT launched a three-year research project in the beginning of 2012. The main purpose of the project is to raise awareness of online safety issues.
"We're aiming to improve information security among ordinary users without compromising usability and convenience. We want to make Internet use as risk free as possible for everyone", summarizes Takahashi.
It is not an everyday occurrence that a research institute administered by the Japanese government opens its doors to collaboration with a foreign organization. Takahashi deserves credit for setting the project in motion.
"NICT underwent some organizational changes and I was assigned a new supervisor. I brought up the idea of launching collaboration with TUT to my supervisor. The project was made possible through the dedicated efforts of Professor Jarmo Harju from the Department of Communications Engineering at TUT and his colleagues. I have only the highest praise for Jarmo, he's a man of his word. I hope that similar collaboration projects can be formed in the future by those who used to study or work at TUT."
The main responsibility for the project lies with Takahashi and his supervisor in Japan. In addition to Jarmo Harju, research fellows Seppo Heikkinen, Marko Helenius, and Bilhanan Silverajan from TUT are involved in the project.
As research is conducted both at TUT and NICT, Takahashi gets to visit Finland a couple of times a year. It's a dream come true.