Career change after 30 years at KTH
After over 30 years at KTH, she's heading to pastures new. As of 1 March next year, Lena Gumaelius will be the Deputy President with special focus on education issues at Mälardalen University.
“It feels really great and I am looking forward to being able to contribute to the further development of Mälardalen,” she says.
She started as a student at KTH in 1988 and Gumaelius has had a number of different roles since then. However, education and learning have been a recurring theme.
Gumaelius originally gained a civil engineering degree and a doctorate in biotechnology. Following a short spell as a researcher, she has had various management roles at KTH, including as Director of the House of Science and until 1 January last year, Head of the School of Education and Communication.
“I have been working as a manager and leader for 15 years. So, even though I enjoy my role as a researcher again, being involved and contributing to strategic thinking with regard to the big picture and helping to drive development at a university really appeals to me.”
The fact that Mälardalen is a much younger and smaller university than KTH, even though it has more students and a large breadth of programmes, is something Gumaelius views as a positive.
“I see this purely as yet another driving force in my new job. Obviously, KTH is a fantastic place with its traditions and legitimacy, but Mälardalen is in the middle of a change process. And that's really exciting.”
Was it a big step to take?
“Both yes and no. But I think it is good that people change job now and again, to move about and gain new perspectives. You otherwise risk getting a bit stuck in your old familiar ways of thinking.”
However, Gumaelius is not cutting all ties with KTH, she will still have her researcher group here – at least in the beginning. The research includes the sometimes delicate task of getting people interested in technology.
“Naturally, I am going to miss my group, but know that they will be able to continue to build on the research in an excellent way,” she says, and mentions in passing that she originally hails from Eskilstuna in the Mälardalen area – so becoming deputy president of the University there that has a campus in both Västerås and Eskilstuna - feels a bit like coming home.
Can you name three ingredients that distinguish good education.
“A systematic debate and a plan where you have decided what knowledge students should take with them on graduating. The responsiveness to reach this point and the world outside that is to receive these new graduates. Right now, I am very much in favour of challenge driven education, which is something I believe is a good ingredient for a good education.”
Words: Jill Klackenberg