Josu Takala was the first Professor of Industrial Management at the University of Vaasa and an internationally renowned researcher. He was a well-liked colleague and teacher. Josu’s research activities covered a wide range of topics related to technology management, such as developing the competitiveness of companies, various production management methods, productivity development, manufacturing strategies and energy technology themes. He often carried out his research projects together with companies and by networking internationally with other research institutes.
Originally from Lehtimäki, Josu Takala took his matriculation examination at Alajärvi Upper Secondary School in 1974. He graduated as a Master of Science in Technology from Tampere University of Technology in 1980 and became a Doctor of Science in Technology in 1988, writing his dissertation on industrial local area network simulation. As a young doctor, Josu worked at the Strömberg Research Institute (later ABB Corporate Research), developing reliability methods, among other things. He worked as a member and chairperson of standardisation, certification and accreditation workgroups at the Finnish and European levels, especially at the Centre for Metrology and Accreditation (FINAS) in the early stages of the EU. At the University of Vaasa, Josu contributed to establishing the subject of industrial management together with Tauno Kilpeläinen and was involved in launching education in industrial management and information technology, which later developed into the university’s Faculty of Technology. He began his professorship in industrial management in 1988, first on a part-time basis alongside his industrial work, and was appointed Professor by the President of the Republic in 1997.
As a professor, Josu Takala helped internationalise the operations of the university. He was involved in organising the International Conference on Productivity and Quality Research (ICPQR) in Vaasa in 1999 and later played a significant role in the organisation’s activities. Josu was one of the first people at the university to recruit foreign postgraduate students and researchers and to build research cooperation with international research institutes in Asia, for example. Cooperation with local industry was an important starting point both in research projects and in the supervision of theses.
Josu Takala was awarded the title of Adjunct Professor at Aalto University, the University of Jyväskylä, the National Defence University and the University of Oulu. He also received an honorary doctorate in technology management from Universiti Tun Hussein Onn Malaysia (UTHM) and Technical University of Kosice (TUKE) in Slovakia. He supervised approximately 700 master’s theses and over 40 doctoral dissertations between 1988 and 2022.
In his free time, Josu enjoyed outdoor activities and especially skiing in the winter, not only by himself and with his family but also taking visiting foreign professors skiing. He was interested in military history and books about the Finnish wars, which was reflected in his interest in cooperation with the National Defence University. Josu’s family was particularly important to him, and ultimately the key reason for moving to Tampere.
Professor Josu Takala will be remembered as an industrial management researcher, teacher and supervisor who was open to new ideas, enthusiastic about his work and inspiring to others. He boldly took his research into new fields, which can be seen extensively in the results of doctoral dissertations and research projects. In addition to his family, Josu will be missed by his work community, his network of researchers in Finland and around the world and by a large number of former students.
Helo, Kekäle and Maunuksela are former colleagues of Josu Takala.