Studying at the University of Oulu paved the way for a new career

When Mehrdad Mirzaei started his first semester at the University of Oulu in the Product and Project Management Master’s programme in September 2019, he already had another master’s degree in metallurgy under his belt from his home country of Iran. As Mirzaei was working as a casting engineer in a factory, he realised he was interested in more than manufacturing.
Mehrdad Mirzaei

Studying at the University of Oulu paved the way for a new career

“I was building physical things and soon became aware that there are many other aspects to a product outside the actual manufacturing process. A product’s life cycle doesn’t end when it leaves the factory. There were also many problems in our product development from beginning to end and I wanted to know how I could address those issues”, Mirzaei says.

Mirzaei started looking for a place where he could build on his expertise and found that Finland is very strong in product management. Soon thereafter, he began his studies at the University of Oulu. The first semester was a bit challenging for him, since he was going from metallurgy to product management, but as soon as he became familiar with terminology and the field’s basic concepts, he started thriving.

“Studying here is very rewarding, things build up in difficulty as you go along. Everything is very flexible and also settling into the student life is very smooth. Whatever questions I had; it was very easy to get answers to them.”

Guest lecturers from real companies talking about real-world cases

Another thing Mirzaei appreciated in Oulu was the number and quality of guest lecturers. During his programme, there were visiting lecturers from major companies such as Nokia, Polar Electro and many others.

“This was extremely interesting, having people from real companies talking about real-world cases. They would share their insights into how to develop a product, how to phase them out, what actual problems they encountered and how they solved them. It was incredibly beneficial to hear about their innovation and what angles they use to approach a given problem. I learned a lot about changing my perspective from them”, Mirzaei enthuses.

In the programme, Mirzaei was also excited to learn about managing virtual products. Coming from the world of physical products, he discovered that virtual products like apps and software also have life cycles that need to be maintained and managed.

“Finland is obviously very strong in virtual products, be it apps or games and so on. I do not think I could have learned virtual product management anywhere else. This really changed my mindset going from physical products to virtual or digital ones and developing business models for virtual products”, Mirzaei says.

Previous expertise meshed well with fresh skills

In the spring of 2022, Mirzaei started working for an Oulu-based company called Carbon Balance that is developing ways to circulate carbon in the atmosphere. The start-up company is trying to reduce emissions in Finland and eventually worldwide. As someone who knows product management and has a background in metallurgy, Mirzaei turned out to be just the right fit for the company.

Mirzaei has found it easy to adapt to the Finnish work culture and enjoys the fact that the company has people from very diverse backgrounds.

“Even in the Master’s programme we were a very international group of people, which I appreciated. Most of our studies were done in groups and it is a great way to get fresh ideas, working with people from different cultures and backgrounds and perspectives.”

Mirzaei had never been to Europe, let alone Finland and Oulu before entering the programme. He has had a pleasant experience in Oulu so far and does not mind the darkness or the cold, even if he jokes that he came from a very warm place to a very cold place.

“I don’t really like the heat, so the Finnish weather suits me well. The darkness doesn’t affect me that much either. The dark time of the year always means there is a good chance to see northern lights”, Mirzaei points out.

Mirzaei has found it easy to adapt to the Finnish work culture and enjoys the fact that the company has people from very diverse backgrounds.

Mehrdad Mirzaei

Master's degree in Product and Project Management at University of Oulu.

Bachelor's and Master's degree in Metallurgy at Iran University of Science and Technology.

Working as a Testing Engineer at Carbon Balance Finland Oy.

“Sports is really big in Oulu. The University provided us with free boxing lessons and so I picked up boxing again and have been practicing a lot ever since. I am not young enough to compete but it is a great sport!”