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Katarina develops hydro power at Finnish energy company Fortum

Katarina Atteryd graduated from the master’s programme in Engineering Physics (Subatomic and Astrophysics track) in 2015. She is now Head of Hydro Operational Excellence at energy company Fortum.

Katarina Atteryd
Master's programme in Engineering Physics (Subatomic and Astrophysics track)

Hi Katarina, what are you working on at the moment?

I work at Fortum as the Head of Hydro Operational Excellence, which means that my team and I are responsible for how we work with continuous improvements and our development portfolio regarding Hydro Power at Fortum.

What is a regular day like at your job?

For me, no two days are the same. Some days consist of coordination meetings with other business areas, another day could be taking part in workshops about Hydro Power’s desired position in 2035, or traveling out to remote Hydro plant locations to have meetings with our maintenance personnel or, as I did today, participate in an external training course regarding new ways of working. These are just a few examples of what I might do in a single day. Last week I spent a day in Gdansk to see how they are working. I also went kayaking with some colleagues. Next month, I will travel to the Ural region of Russia to visit our production units there.

Have you worked on anything else since you graduated?

Yes, I have worked on financial energy trading at Fortum, as a requirement engineer at Skanska, with change management at Ericsson and then back to Fortum again as a business developer. So, quite different roles and companies, although I now apply all of their different aspects to my current position.

Why did you choose this programme at KTH?

I have always enjoyed Physics and Maths so for me Engineering Physics was a clear choice. Of course, in the beginning I was not completely sure whether I would handle the pressure. But then I thought, you never know unless you try and, apparently, it went well in the end.

Are there any insights or knowledge you acquired during your studies that have been particularly useful for you in your career?

I think the main skills you acquire are basic problem solving and how to understand the most important parts of a complex subject. However, the most important knowledge was acquired from engaging in social activities at KTH during my studies, such as the student musical or the reception of new students. These activities gave me leadership experience and also taught me how to handle different people with different needs in stressful situations.

What is your best memory from your time at the university?

Doing my bachelor’s degree project together with a fellow student and spending hours and hours, day after day, learning how to code C++ in order to reach the goal of the thesis. We were learning new and difficult skills. There was satisfaction in mastering a complex problem, and, in the end, I had a good friend for life.

What are your plans for the future?

I will see what the future holds. My education has given me a great foundation of confidence to tackle any problems in the future. At the moment I am really enjoying my work, especially being in the rapidly changing energy industry working for a company that makes the world a cleaner place.

What would you want to say to a student who was thinking of applying for this programme?

If you are thinking about applying, do it! It is KTH’s most rewarding programme and with this programme you can basically overcome any issue in the future. The worst thing that could happen is that the programme is not for you – but you’ll never know unless you try!