Maria Uhari-Pakkalin, Head of Customer Experience Design

Maria Uhari-Pakkalin started working at Fortum at the beginning of 2017 as Head of Customer Experience Design and was impressed by the company's willingness to become more customer-centric.


Maria has a lot of experience within user research, UX and service design, as well as design management while working mainly for telecom and mobile industry in Finland and abroad since beginning of 2000. "The key denominator of my career has been developing user experiences and better services" says Uhari-Pakkalin. "At Fortum, my job is to ensure that customer centric design methodology and consumer insights are used to develop viable and innovative business.”

According to Uhari-Pakkalin, customer-oriented development of services starts with clarifying customers' needs by examining feedback, monitoring and interviewing users. Based on this, the development targets and innovation ideas are being formed. This is called Design Thinking. “I’m facilitating workshops inside our organization where participants are asked to co-create this so-called customer journey. My Customer Experience Design Team’s job is to keep the view of the customers at the center of everything and help choosing the right methods. By doing this, we keep design thinking visible in our projects.”

Uhari-Pakkalin has been at Fortum for just a short while but has already been able to bring forward this new mindset to stakeholders and the whole ecosystem at Fortum. "Competitive advantages nowadays are created through the best customer experiences. At Fortum we’re leading a change from technology-intensive to customer-centric approach. The view of the users is an essential part of our development cycles where the ideas are created, tested and iterated at a fast pace.”

In her spare time, Maria Uhari-Pakkalin also works as a yoga teacher, which has a direct link to the customer-oriented approach. "In yoga, you must first learn the empathy towards yourself, through which you learn to be empathetic with others as well. Service designers must also have empathy towards users, to understand their world and the pain points, so that you can create impressive services for them.”