Development Engineer in environmental responsibility

Marikki Makkonen, 25, combines her passion for environmental responsibility, construction management system development and the needs of varying infrastructure projects in her work. The competence of a team of specialists from various backgrounds, the creativity needed in the job and a sufficient degree of challenge serve as the driving force for Marikki in developing her skills and her career.

Marikki Makkonen
Marikki Makkonen

Ever since Marikki was little, nature and studying it have been a cause of interest, appreciation and worry for her. The way humans affect nature and how that effect can be influenced are topics that are still close to her heart.

Multidisciplinarity took a hold of Marikki already at the beginning of her studies. Her interest in water area studies and biology got her to change her major from chemistry in Turku to natural sciences in Jyväskylä. As her studies progressed, so did her longing to make the way humans engage with nature more sustainable. After finishing her Bachelor of Science degree, Marikki got a tip from her friend about a master’s programme in corporate environmental management, which she decided to pursue. While waiting for the programme to begin, Marikki also studied the basics of energy, environment and natural resources law.

“Multidisciplinarity allows for personal growth and bursts bubbles. There is an enormous amount of expertise from different areas in teams consisting of people from multiple fields. They are an excellent setting to find one’s way by trying new things, and my career path is a good example of such success,” Marikki says.

Last May, Marikki graduated as Master of Science. She did her master’s thesis for YIT on the implementation of the ISO 14001 environmental management system and continued her work as a Development Engineer in Infra projects after graduation.

Getting sustainable development to bloom in a management system framework

While interning for YIT, Marikki learned about the management system that guides construction processes and operating methods. As a result of her internship, she produced a handbook that supports the successful application of the ISO 14001 environmental management system. She performed her work well and received new responsibilities along with the title of Development Engineer. Her new job includes managing the management system in matters related to quality, safety and environmental aspects as well as developing the system itself.

“Sustainable development has always been dear to me, but I understand that the management system is a sort of framework that ensures that all operations run as smoothly as possible and meet their requirements. As such, sustainable development is not something separate but a part of everything we do,” Marikki says.

Marikki has been especially excited about getting to observe and manage the massive management system, which has also been a good setting in which to develop her own skills.

Shared values keep the tasks interesting

A motivation for Marikki is being able to work in areas that resonate with her personal passions. In addition to developing the management system, she is also a contact person in individual development projects with an environmental responsibility perspective, such as in the project that aims to improve carbon footprint calculations.

“It has been important for me to keep environmental responsibility as a key focus in everything my tasks include. As I’m at the beginning of my career, I’m still getting to know many matters and learning enormously from different specialist teams. It has also been rewarding to get to influence processes, for instance,” Marikki says. 

Marikki spends a lot of her time participating in different meetings, meeting with development teams and keeping in touch with people around the organisation. She also plans and carries out training and events. “Keeping busy lets me really dig into the matter at hand,” Marikki says, describing her work. The amount of creativity required in her work caught her by surprise at first.

“In development projects, you need to find the best way to get things to work together, and the best solution can usually be found by thinking outside the box. I also need to come up with the best ways to carry out workshops and plan their content with the teams,” Marikki says.

The best insights and solutions move between the project and corporate level

Working as a Development Engineer allows Marikki to operate with a large network and different parties. As everything is based on trust, she has been allowed to ask questions, experiment and seek the knowledge of more experienced colleagues—and, more importantly, have her say in decisions as well. Bringing up issues is both possible and encouraged as that is the best way to solve them.

“My skills have been appreciated and I’ve also managed to challenge myself just the right amount. It is also great to always be able to depend on your superior,” Marikki says.

Working between project organisations and the corporate level is also something that Marikki finds positive. She has found each project to be an organisation in miniature form with a unique working culture. Seeking solutions together brings the construction site’s opinions to light and increases the chances of reaching the best and most suitable solution for all.

“We can learn so much from projects. My personal view is constantly expanding and you can always find input from someone for solving problems. And no two construction sites are alike,” Marikki says.

When the number of infrastructure projects increases, it becomes a challenge to develop solutions that fit them all. It is also sometimes difficult to match the objectives of the project side with those of the corporate level. For this reason, Marikki attempts to prevent potential issues by involving the project side in development before the project itself begins.

“However, if issues do arise, the most important thing is to focus on people. Ask around, listen to what they have to say and understand different viewpoints. Once you get people to work together and feedback is met with a reaction, it is possible to overcome even the most difficult situations.”

Learning by doing and having an impact

Marikki encourages everyone, regardless of their background, to be open minded and seek out work and challenges in different industries. In addition to YIT’s fair and open atmosphere, Marikki has been impressed with the company’s size. There is a lot of potential for new experiences—as long as you are is ready to express interests.

“The most important thing is trust and being allowed to contribute. I can be creative and flexible with my work and have a real impact on matters. For me, it has also been a big thing that YIT’s infrastructure construction is so international,” Marikki sums up.

Remote work during the coronavirus pandemic has also shown Marikki how dealing with people face-to-face is no longer something to be taken for granted.

“I’ve noticed how much working with people really means to me. I miss brainstorming in teams, although I also like to be creative just by myself and really dig into developing something,” Marikki says.