“My expectations were high to begin with, but I have been positively surprised at the high-flown work people at Kone Foundation do every day. We fund magnificent projects in both research and the arts, and the people working for the organisation are outstanding. It’s a great pleasure to have the opportunity to get to know them and learn more about the content we work with,” says Ulla Tuomarla. She will be leading Kone Foundation in place of Anna Talasniemi, who has taken study leave until the summer of 2022.
“I was also positively surprised at how seriously environmental issues are taken into account in the Foundation’s everyday life. Compensating for the carbon footprint resulting from its operations through forest transactions is an excellent example of this.”
Tuomarla is a linguist in French and lecturer in French translation at the University of Helsinki, where she began her career as a post-graduate student in 1995. Tuomarla began her independent management duties as the Head of the University of Helsinki’s Department of Modern Languages in 2014 and, since 2018, has acted as the Vice Dean of the Faculty of Arts, in charge of the faculty’s teaching.
“Leading Kone Foundation’s work community, which consists of less than 20 people, is very rewarding because I genuinely get to know the work done by the people I lead. On the other hand, a director in a small organisation such as this one is also required to be competent in a wide range of areas.”
The national and international world of foundations is a fascinating sector for Tuomarla, offering a constant stream of new things to learn.
“Some people have the impression that foundations and their employees lead a safe existence with no worries. While financial security and independence are absolutely great, I can assure you that the employees of Kone Foundation do not rest on their laurels. The various units come up with new ideas for our operations at such a rate that it’s hard to keep up! As I’m still learning the ropes, it feels important to me to start by promoting well-being at work and to consider how our everyday work reflects against the value system specified in our strategy. Let’s also not forget how difficult the prolonged coronavirus pandemic is for the work community. Fostering a sense of community in these circumstances requires resourcefulness from all of us.”
Researcher of hate speech and a large-scale consumer of culture
In her academic work, Ulla Tuomarla has studied the language of the media in particular, but also the stylistic features of fiction.
“I myself received a grant from Kone Foundation in 2008. At the time, I was studying hate speech and have continued it alongside my administrative work, meaning that I am still primarily focused on the same topic.”
In her spare time, Tuomarla is a large-scale consumer of art, research and culture.
“Now that the coronavirus is preventing me from going to exhibitions, the theatre, museums, concerts or the cinema, I relax by reading – and running after my puppy! After my youngest child moved out in August, we took a puppy that sleeps under my desk when I work from home.”
Communication about research and the arts
This year, Kone Foundation has two new employees whose job it is to carry out and develop its daily communications.
Communications and Event Coordinator Lauri Alaviitala previously worked for communications agency Miltton as a writer and planner and before that was in charge of the communications and marketing of the Finnish Museum of Photography. Alaviitala holds a master’s degree in social sciences. He will act as a substitute for Suvi Korhonen during her parental leave throughout 2021 and in the autumn will also deputise for Head of Communication Heljä Franssila.
“I have started my work in this new community with great enthusiasm and curiosity. I have great respect for the makers and supporters of art and research. It’s a privilege to have the opportunity to learn about the projects funded by the Foundation and to share information about them with others in my daily work. The pandemic has presented some challenges for the Foundation’s event production activities, but this year also offers us the opportunity to delve deeper into the development of our online communications towards both grantees and other audiences.”
Joel Haapamäki has worked with Kone Foundation before: in the spring of 2020, he carried out a university internship at the Foundation, helping with its communications, and has now returned as Communications and Event Assistant. This new job description includes a wide range of tasks, from revising the Foundation’s website to editing its annual report.
Haapamäki works part-time at the Foundation, while writing his master’s thesis on sociology at the University of Helsinki. His favourite pastime is music.
“It’s inspiring to return to the Foundation, especially as my life outside of work also largely revolves around the consolidation of art and research at the moment.”