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Researcher Katri Lahtinen, IPR University. Graduated from JAMK’s Music and Media Management programme in 2009.

In her youth, Katri did not care about studying – now she is writing a doctoral dissertation on patent licensing in American markets

"I wouldn’t be where I am today, if a person’s whole life depended on the graduation diploma of upper secondary school. My passion for studying did not emerge until much later. Ten years ago, I could not have imagined that I would be writing a doctoral dissertation one day. I’m researching patent licensing, and the purpose is to help Finnish companies penetrate US markets."

It is hard to know at 18 what you want from your future and in what field you will make your career. This is clear to Katri Lahtinen, originally from Riihimäki, who dropped out of upper secondary school back in the day because she was not interested in studying. Katri started studies to become a barber and a hairdresser, but she did not feel like the profession suited her. Now, years later, Katri, who graduated from JAMK in 2009, holds lectures to students of international business on patent rights and patent business in the USA. She is also working on a doctoral dissertation in the University of Helsinki. 

“I wouldn’t be where I am today, if a person’s whole life depended on one graduation diploma. My passion for studying did not emerge until much later,” Katri says.

 Katri graduated from JAMK’s Music and Media Management programme in 2009.

 “Before my studies at JAMK, I studied culture production at Seinäjoki Univeristy of Applied Sciences for a while and spent a year in England. However, the English language education offered at JAMK inspired me to move from Seinäjoki to Jyväskylä.”

 At JAMK, Katri became interested in copyright and intellectual property rights, which were part of the Music and Media Management studies. After receiving her bachelor’s degree, she studied for her master’s degree in the Intellectual Property Law programme in Hanken in the Department of Economics. After her master’s studies, she moved to Silicon Valley in California with her American husband. 

 “My friend in Silicon Valley suggested a job for me at the law firm Weil, Gotshal & Manges, in their patent litigation department, which handles legal disputes related to patents. I doubted my abilities – I thought I would have to be an engineer,” Katri says, laughing. 

 Still, Katri decided to take the chance. She worked six years as a paralegal, i.e. the lawyers’ assistant in legal dispute proceedings. 

 “The team was wonderful and the work was nice. However, the days were very long at times, and my life was mostly all about work. Whatever leisure time I did have was spent on familiarising myself with the area. I did not have much time for making new friends.”

“During one trial, I worked 120 hours in one week. Of course, it wasn’t always like that!” Katri says.

 The birth of her child in 2014 changed her attitude to work.

 “I didn’t want to miss my child’s entire childhood,” Katri says.

In California, labour protection is slightly above that of the rest of the USA, but there are no long maternity leaves like in Finland, and children as young as three months old are put in day care.

 “During my child’s birth, I was away from work a total of 7.5 months. Luckily, we had the child’s grandmother to help us with the baby,” Katri says.

 Katri and her husband returned to Finland this autumn, and she is now doing her doctoral dissertation at IPR University Center in Helsinki. Katri’s dissertation topic was accepted to the University of Helsinki’s Faculty of Law, where doctoral dissertations are usually only done by people who hold a master’s degree in law.

 “I’m researching patent licensing from the perspective of Finnish companies. The purpose of my dissertation is to help Finnish companies penetrate US markets.”

 “Even though my background is not in law, I am familiar with the legal context and juridical operating environment. My strengths are my business competence and familiarity with American practices.”

 “Ten years ago, I could not have imagined that I would be writing a doctoral dissertation one day.”

 Katri is thankful to the Finnish education system and hopes that it will be able to maintain its flexibility.

 “The Finnish education system allows you some missteps and experimentation. That is a great thing. If a young person does not yet know what they want to do, it does not mean that they don’t want to do anything. In my experience, finding your own path may take some time.”

 Katri encourages all those wondering about their future to seize their opportunities.

 “When opportunity knocks, open the door. Throw yourself in and use the skills and knowledge that you have learned in school and elsewhere.”

Text and photo: Paula Pasanen

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