Student profile: Kristiina Suominen

Kristiina is a CoID student and a Senior Consultant at Deloitte Management (Consulting, Service Design). We interviewed her about the career path, experience and interests.

As a service designer, Kristiina helps clients to create service innovations and strategies, concepts and successful customer experiences. She has several years of experience from the field of design, especially in designing and developing services in a human-centric way, focusing on what truly matters to end-users. She is passionate about using human-centered approach to uncover latent needs, to identify key opportunities and to create better services and customer experiences.

During her studies at Aalto University Kristiina focused on building multidisciplinary knowledge of service development. In addition to her major (Collaborative and Industrial Design) she followed Service Minor (ASM) studies from School of Business and School of Science to deepen the knowledge in this field.


What did you do before you started your MA studies in CoID programme at Aalto University?

I hold an earlier Designer (BA) degree from the field of product and spatial design. In the spring 2008, when I was graduating, I got hired as a Designer by a Finnish design agency. We designed commercial spaces over Finland and Europe (Germany, France & Sweden). In the end of year 2009, I joined in a new start-up company as a first employee — a service design agency Hellon (formerly Diagonal). I spend six years with the company, creating solutions for our clients as a service designer also responsible of team project management. I started my CoID Master of Arts studies at Aalto University in the Fall of 2014. I had personal interest towards academic studies, a desire to get a broader picture about service development and theories behind the service design field.

How did your studies change your understanding of service design?

I started to question the role of designer in the design process and its outcomes quite early. I have been always open minded and curious to explore new ways of approaching the challenges. I believe the change in my mindset happened in sly. I got first interested about human-centric design approach which Hellon utilized in the early beginning. My mindset change was highly affected by discussions with different professionals, working hands-on with projects and reading many publications of the field of service design. Around 2011, a bunch of service designers and service design researchers from Aalto University also joined Hellon bringing the new knowledge in.

In 2013, I was part of the team which got the main prize in the very first Service Design Achievement of the Year competition in Finland. The acknowledgement was a result of the project we started in 2012 with my former colleague Juha Kronqvist. We created new service concept for Fimlab Laboratories and unified the customer experience and service delivery, including the interior concept, in over 70 service points across Finland with over 700 employees operating in the various labs.

I truly believe that designers should concentrate on creating solutions that really meet the end-user needs and touch their emotions, instead pf prioritizing their own visions of aesthetics. It is all about where you put the priorities, it is about mindset.

What does it mean to be part of the big company like Deloitte, as a designer?

As a service designer, I solve complex challenges during the service development. Challenges are often such in nature that there is a need for interdisciplinary collaboration between professionals in different fields. It is therefore natural to work in a big company with people with different backgrounds and talents, willing to learn from each other and grow together. Deloitte is one of the world leading professional companies, with employees approximately 200 000 globally in over 150 countries and over 400 experts in Finland. Deloitte has multidisciplinary experts in audit, consulting, financial advisory, risk management, tax and related services. Connecting design with the other disciplines of management consulting is rewarding.

Design field has changed in past years rapidly and changed the role of a designer. There is a wider global shift in the design practitioner ́s positions going on. The interest in design and its potential has grown in past years in big advisories and they have broadened their offerings by placing design in their strategy.

Big companies have started to reinforce their competitiveness and innovativeness by gathering bigger in-house design teams. This has been witnessed for many years around the world in big enterprises already. OP Financial Group, one of the largest financial companies in Finland, recently announced their strategy to gather thirty people as an in-house design agency in order to achieve a competitive advantage by design-led development and to create even greater customer experiences. I believe that if you are open minded, curious, willing to challenge yourself and your comfort zones, wonderful things and opportunities will come in front of you. I certainly dream about creating meaningful moments with interdisciplinary approach that enrich people ́s everyday life.