Marjo Miettinen, one of Ensto’s owners and Chairman of the Board, remarks on Ensto’s new strategy and the history behind it.
Ensto has undergone some significant changes over the past years, but the majority of them have not been in any way connected to Covid 19. The seeds of Ensto’s “two businesses, two focuses” strategy were planted as early as 2018, when the third generation of the Miettinen family became Ensto owners. The strategic process began actively in 2019 when Hannu Keinänen started as Ensto President and CEO.
“The new Ensto strategy has been discussed for a long time,” says Marjo Miettinen, one of Ensto’s owners and Chairman of the Board. “But it was this new generation of owners who began asking new questions that really drove forward this new strategy. Strategy is always a process, not a project.”
"The new generation had a huge interest in sustainability," says Miettinen, "and wanted to understand how the company was leading in sustainability at every level." Their world views differed, as well. “They were focused on what was happening inside Ensto, but also outside of the Group, Finland, Europe, and even globally. What's happening, for example, in India was important to them.”
“Their networks were different, too,” she says. “Putting their networks together with mine can enable us to expand faster.”
The new generation was also keenly interested in leadership issues. "They discussed how Ensto should be led. They wanted to know about the leadership philosophy of Hannu [Keinänen] and how he would lead the company.”
When Hannu Keinänen returned to Ensto as President and CEO in 2019, this discussion among owners was brought to life in a new strategy, “two businesses, two focuses.”
"To create this new strategy all the owners were involved, plus the Ensto board, and Ensto management," says Miettinen. "It was a joint process and everybody was committed."
Miettinen says dividing the company into Ensto DSO and Ensto Building Systems makes more sense for both customers and employees. "When you break it down, some of our businesses are about distributing electricity, and the other parts are about using electricity. Customers are different. The new strategy is also easier for our employees, because it allows them to focus on fewer products and solutions. Still, we are keeping our good history and brand alive in both businesses."
While Covid hit some businesses extremely hard, Ensto was in a favorable position for two reasons. "Without electricity, there's no modern society at all," says Miettinen, "so Ensto products are needed regardless of the pandemic. In a modern society, electricity is a right of human life, an enabler of equality, a focus for energy efficiency, and the solution for climate change. We can say that electricity is a fundamental right of human life.”
Second, Ensto's balance sheet was strong before Covid, and Ensto succeeded in keeping its factories in both Finland and Estonia open the whole year in 2020. "Everyone at Ensto was working hard to keep our customers satisfied,” says Miettinen, “which meant special measures to protect our employees by guaranteeing a safe working environment.”
Those who could, worked from home. Risk of infection was minimized by limiting visitors to plants and encouraging safe distancing. Shifts were added to ensure greater distance between workers. Facemasks were required and Plexiglas placed between work stations. The lunch schedule was changed in the name of safety, and in the Porvoo factory proximity cards are being used.
In 1986, Ensio Miettinen, Ensto’s founder, wrote, "I act, or try to act, in a manner that bridges the gap, or creates a synthesis, between technoculture and humanism." It’s a topic that has preoccupied Marjo, as well. “R&D can't be separated from the human,” she says, “and vice versa: human beings need digital working methods. The idea of digitalization is to help people in their work."
eration of owners has committed to the company, too. After the company created its mission, “Better life. With electricity,” they created a family mission, “Better future. With family.”
“This family mission shows their commitment that we would do our best together to develop Ensto,” says Miettinen, “and this is getting more and more interesting.”
On her blog, Marjo Miettinen once described sending a postcard to her father Ensio she found in a gas station in Finland. The card read I’m not crazy, just a little bit different. “My father framed it and hung it on his bedroom wall,” she says. “And now this same postcard is hanging on my youngest son’s bedroom wall.”
“Sometimes we think creative people are crazy, that we can’t work with them,” she says. “But we also need rational people to help realize a crazy-sounding idea. This card is a great reminder that we need all types of people – crazy, rational, tech, non-tech, younger, older – to help bring ideas to life and create an excellent company.”