Electronics Technician Mara Harjunmaa
Hi, my name's Mara Harjunmaa, and I work in Genelec's Production Team as an Electronic Technician responsible for manual hand assembly work on circuit boards.
It's important to me that you know I'm deaf, disabled and neuroatypical. Although I'm medically deaf and use sign language, I can also hear and speak fluent Finnish thanks to a cochlear implant that I've had since childhood. You can spot the implant's external processor behind my ear, which has a circular magnetic coil that's then connected to the under-skin parts of the implant. The internal parts of the system help to digitise sounds and transmit them to my brain. In a way, you could say my implant is like a loudspeaker that works in the opposite direction!
Since my earliest days, I've been very familiar with Genelec loudspeakers. When I had examinations at Helsinki University Hospital's Hearing Centre to determine my condition, they always used Genelecs for the testing. I didn't pay a huge amount of attention to them back then, but I do remember staring intently into the loudspeaker drivers while pressing buttons to indicate I'd heard a sound. In 2017, I moved from Southern Finland to Iisalmi, and my local hearing centre changed to the Kuopio University Hospital, which also has Genelecs! The very next year, my job at a local industrial sewing company ended after the firm was forced to close. Going on the experience of my partner, a Genelec employee of several years, I had the feeling the Iisalmi factory would be a safe and relaxed workplace to join. I didn't have to think long about my next move - I was very happy to find myself at Genelec in the spring of 2019!
I've been with Genelec for three years now, and I've been enjoying the varied nature of my work. In addition to assembling circuit boards, I clean our wave soldering machine and check the boards it's soldered using our automated optical inspection unit. I'm really into arts and crafts, so I enjoy working with my hands and being meticulous with details. Being active at work is perfect for me, I love that I have a variety of tasks to do at different workstations. Together at Genelec, we have our own unique and fun atmosphere, which makes it a real pleasure to come to work. Being involved hasn't always been easy for me, as my deafness and difficulties with accessibility have often made it tough to feel a part of communities. As a minor, I started to suffer from depression due to the stress of being in a minority group. Ever since, my condition has been up and down.
When the pandemic hit, my depression deepened, resulting in a burnout. For the first time in my life, I decided to start using a sign language interpreter at work. That was two years after starting at Genelec, and honestly, I didn't know that much about my colleagues at that point. Up until then, I could only hear what was said to me face-to-face, I couldn't hear the things people around me were saying to each other. With an interpreter, I learned more about my colleagues in just a few weeks than I had during my first two years at Genelec. This way of working has eased my depression a lot and enabled me to be fully creative again for the first time since childhood! It's hugely valuable to have support with everyday things, allowing me to use my energy on the most satisfying aspects of life. I would like to give a special thanks to Genelec's Production Team for making my interpreter feel so welcome in our community!
At home, I have my own craft room where I can freely express myself as inspiration strikes. I have lots of projects on the go, even as we speak. I'd say that one of my main hobbies, funnily enough, is the collection of more hobbies! I absolutely love trying out new crafting and art techniques, and comics are a great passion of mine - I've been collecting a bunch of Western, Asian and European publications. My favourites include Tintin, Bonehead, The Sandman, The Moomins and One Piece. My partner and I are also joined at home by a pair of female Cornish Rex cats, who're super hilarious and clever - I've even taught them a few tricks!
My most memorable experience at Genelec is without a doubt the time when my colleagues and I visited our Japanese office in Akasaka. I got to experience their famous Japanese hospitality when Kanji Murai, Genelec Japan's CEO, took us on a tour of the city and served us traditional sushi dishes. Of course, we took their team some Moomin mugs as gifts!
From my very first moments at Genelec, I've been up front about being deaf, disabled and neuroatypical. I also differ from the general population because of my sexuality and gender identity, and that makes it especially important to me that Genelec has created a working culture with zero tolerance for discrimination and a safe environment for open, constructive discussions. We cannot talk about sustainability and responsibility without considering human rights throughout the entire production chain. Equality and accessibility are vital issues for me, and I feel I would probably not be in this workplace today without the tireless work of the Finnish Association of the Deaf and the other organisations and activists who promote rights for the disabled.
Greetings from a colleague,
Mara is a cheerful, courageous and open person. She's also great at noticing important issues that others might not. When I started at Genelec, I immediately felt that I wanted to get to know you, Mara, but as a shy person I didn't really know how to approach you. I really appreciate how you confidently came to sit across from me, going on to introduce yourself and ask if I liked cats, since you'd noticed the cat design on my shirt.
Even though we haven't known each other for very long yet, I hope, and I believe, that our great friendship will last well into the future, both in and outside of work!
Your colleague, Orvokki Niemi