19.6. 2012 Kuukauden kasvo

Scrum Master Aki Salmi waves his arms

Turku Agile Day was arranged for the fourth time last spring. The first Turku Agile Day in 2009 attracted 100 participants. A year later the number was 150, last year 180, and this year the set of events built around the Turku ICT Week attracted 280 participants. It’s time to introduce Aki Salmi, the man behind Turku Agile Day.

If the stereotype of a nerd is a guy who stays mainly indoors and taps at his computer in a dimly lit room from morning till evening, that certainly does not apply to Aki. During a brief meeting he gives an impression of a multi-dimensional thirty-year old father of a family who is broadly interested in his own area of expertise but also in trekking in nature.

Aki was born in Turku in 1980, but his family moved to Kirkkonummi when he was 2 years old. After completing his military service he returned to Turku in autumn 2000 and enrolled in the University of Turku.

“I hit the jackpot when I had the chance to start my studies in Turku. It felt like coming back home when I chose the University of Turku instead of the Helsinki University of Technology”, Aki reminisces.

Nokia and super coders

Aki started his studies in the university, and back then it was not yet possible to complete a degree of Master of Science (Technology). So he graduated as Master of Science (Technology) in Computer Science from Åbo Akademi University in spring 2004. For his Master’s thesis he studied testing automation tools at Nokia. After graduation he continued on the subject until the end of 2008. Then he switched to a new project inside Nokia which allowed him to work with ”super coders”.

“I thought I knew programming, but I learned a great deal in that project. After a couple of years I needed new challenges and found a job as a Scrum Master at Lindorff in November 2010.”

Scrum Master is probably not one the most common job titles, so let’s have an explanation.

“I have sometimes described my work as waving my arms. Me and my colleague are close to the coders, but don’t so coding ourselves. We just encourage and support the team and are responsible for reporting. It has a lot to do with people.”

Wonder if waving of arms awakened Aki’s interest in pedagogic issues, as he tells that he started vocational studies of a work supervisor and working community developer in spring in the Sosped centre owned by the Social-pedagogic Foundation.

“The 2.5-year course of studies is very practical and based on experience. It also takes one very deep in self-knowledge and understanding oneself. Emotions, their emergence and handling, leadership and understanding the working community form the key content of the studies.”

Agile methods

While working at Nokia Aki participated in the annual XP conferences. In 2008, he could not make it to the conference held in Ireland where the colleagues he’d learned to know at previous conferences would have met again. He thought about inviting his friends over to Turku and spoke to the chairmen of two subject associations, Digit and Asteriski. The discussion quickly led to arranging the first Turku Agile day in spring 2009. Asteriski and Digit are still behind the event that is based on volunteer work, although the practical arrangements are made by the Turku Agile Group community co-founded by them.

Turku Agile Day focuses on so-called agile methods which refer to breaking software development into small increments. Ideas are shared in workshops and presentations. The importance of teamwork is emphasised, although top speakers of the industry also provide new ideas.

“During the Agile Day you can network and make new acquaintances and share experiences. Actually the best discussions take place at evening parties and other informal occasions.”

Turku Agile Day is gradually becoming one of the signatures of the ICT community in Turku. Speakers are already announcing their willingness to contribute without being asked. This year, a larger event named Turku ICT Week was built around Turku Agile day for the first time.

“It was an absolutely splendid event. It turned into a three-day event when we were asked to add more programme to Turku Agile Day. The theme week was organised by volunteers and successfully co-ordinated by Sonja Nylander. I believe that the Agile day has contributed to Turku’s recognition as an ICT city”, Aki says.

The preparations for the 2013 event will start in the autumn – if they will. Aki’s new studies, family, 3–4 weeks per year spent as a wilderness guide of Suomen Latu association, and other nature trekking activities will take a considerable proportion of his free time in the future.

“I never wanted to promise that the event will be arranged again. It’s important that it’s based on voluntariness, real passion and enthusiasm. There are around 10–20 active players and suitable staff turnover”, Aki reminds.


Aki Salmi

-        Born in Turku in 1980

-        M.Sc. (Tech.) in Computer Science from Åbo Akademi University in 2004

-        Working at Nokia from 2004–2010

-        Scrum Master at Lindorff 2012–

-        Married with a 2-year-old daughter

-        Hobbies: nature trekking and studying