An open attitude is essential

Pirkko Melville, PhD and MSc (Econ.), was named the University of Jyväskylä’s alumna of the year.

Pirkko is currently working as the research and development manager for the City of Jyväskylä. When she was young, she wanted to be a doctor but music and especially playing the violin led her to study musicology and art education at the University of Jyväskylä. Pirkko’s first years of study were filled with great enthusiasm.

“After general upper secondary school, it was great to study a subject that truly made my eyes light up. I was thirsty for knowledge,” she says.

Pirkko warmly remembers the time she spent with fellow students, growing together with them and learning about life. After graduating with two master’s degrees, she played violin in the Jyväskylä Sinfonia orchestra, taught at the University and the university of applied sciences and worked as a musician, sometimes even as an acting one in productions by the Jyväskylä City Theatre. In addition to all this, she raised her family, eventually with five children.

Pirkko’s thirst for knowledge was insatiable and she wanted to start studying again. Leadership studies at the Open University led to a master’s degree in economics and business administration, and she completed her multidisciplinary doctoral dissertation in 2007. Her working career brought the PhD musician to work as an assistant professor at the University and as a managing director and rector of a private music school. During her doctoral studies, Pirkko noticed that age has no bearing on learning. ”Age is just numbers,” she says.

“What is important is the attitude of openness for new things, which you can find from people in their twenties as well from us older students.”

Her multidisciplinary studies at the University taught Pirkko Melville to see the world without bias: “The world is not black and white. You must always see things from many different perspectives.” University studies also taught her humility and made her realise that the more you know or can do, the less you actually know or can do. “There is a limit to the human mind,” Melville says.

In her position as a research and development manager for the City of Jyväskylä, Pirkko Melville channels her skills and creativity to develop the city and region as well as its resource wisdom in order to promote the wellbeing of the region and its inhabitants as well as to manage climate change and promote circular economy and carbon neutrality. A further goal is, naturally, to increase cooperation between the city and its stakeholders.

Throughout her working career, Pirkko Melville has built up close networks between the City of Jyväskylä and the University. For her, applying different skills and knowledge is a significant part of working life, as is the feeding of creativity, innovative thinking and internal entrepreneurship in different situations. Melville sees that continuous learning requires us to constantly challenge ourselves:

“You have to shake off old patterns and established ways of working and stay up to date. How could we even function in this increasingly dynamic society without continuous learning? Or, how could we make proactive choices to adjust our lives to the changes we see on the horizon?”

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