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May 5, 2010

Who are you Dr Henry Tirri?

henrytirriESPOO, Finland – We’ve been firing questions at a few Nokia folks recently and next in the chair is Dr Henry Tirri, Senior Vice President, Head of Nokia Research Center (NRC). Henry’s responsible for Nokia’s long term research at the NRC laboratories and units worldwide and is also an Adjunct Professor of Computer Science (University of Helsinki), and an Adjunct Professor of Computational Engineering (Helsinki University of Technology).

Hit the jump to read Henry’s answers to our questions.

Who’s been my greatest inspiration is a very hard question to answer, many people have inspired me during various part of my life. Scientifically I have been inspired by great minds in my field like John Von Neumann, Andrei Kolmogorov and Don Knuth. Those who know me well know that I am also inspired by great artists, writers and performers such as Jose Carreras, Fred Astaire, Mark Twain and Albert Edelfelt. From social visionaries I am inspired by Muhammad Yunus and for leadership Winston Churchill.

First thing on a Monday morning I check SMS, check email, check news (from net) and take a bath.

On a Friday afternoon before leaving for dinner – usually with my wife or alone– I listen to great opera (or some other) music for a while.

I try to remind myself that I do not believe in bad days. On a really bad day I need an Irish Coffee (which I also sometimes use to celebrate a very good day too).

I live by this quote: “Only going forward because I cannot find the reverse”. I do not believe in worrying about the past – the future always has new opportunities to apply what you have learned.

Answering what is my life’s passion is a very, very hard question. I value my family relationships – for individual passion it is clear that my passion is learning, I am universally curious about everything.

I wonder what will happen today when I wake up in the morning and if I see the sun, that it is a beautiful day.

I actually like Christmas time – there is something magical about that season. In general I’m looking forward to celebrate important things – milestones in your life – achievements that are important to me and fun times with friends.

In my former professional life I always believed that the definition of a good professor is one that produces more famous students than him or herself. Similarly I would like not to be remembered by what I did but the great things achieved by those who I had privilege to coach or support.

I am occasionally positively impatient and don’t let people properly finish what they want to say. I am really trying to learn to be a better listener.

What fictional character I’d like to be has changed as I was growing up.  When I was a child I wanted to be D’Artagnan. When I was a teenager I wanted to be Aragorn – son of Arathorn. Later on my favorite was Silver Surfer. And of course of the Moomin characters I would be Snufkin.

I don’t think there is any single book that has changed my life. But I can say that loving books has changed my life. I was young when I learned to read and when finishing high school I owned more than 10,000 books.  I love books as physical things and I love stories.

I had many great personalities amongst my teachers in high school. I think the one that had the most influence on me was the art teacher, he inspired me to appreciate expressive art and the work of old masters.

If I could invent one gadget it would be a black hole based energy generator. It would generate “green” energy very efficiently and solve the world’s (and the planetary system’s) energy problem.

For me courage is defined by being scared, i.e., “Courage is the art of being the only one who knows you’re scared to death”.

Before going to bed I think about something peaceful, something calm and nothing verbal.

Saturday is my favourite day of the week because I have no schedule.

If I wasn’t doing my current job I’d probably still be in the academia as I still like teaching and research. An alternative life would be to try my luck in growing wines – a vineyard in Napa Valley or Tuscany.

I laugh often and many things make me laugh. Quite frequently I laugh when I remember my own “adventures”. It also depends also on my mood – I find British, Monty Python-style humor, very funny as well as Finnish comedian “Spede” humor. I also laugh for joy when I am happy.