Ensto's New Direction: Growth On Our Own Terms

Marjo Miettinen assumed her responsibilities as Ensto’s Chairman of the Board in 2016. Ensto Today spoke with her about her vision for the company and the industry. 

What is your perspective on electricity and the overall business?

Ensto is in the business of electricity, and electricity is here to stay. There is no new technology set to replace it. It’s not an exaggeration to say that without electricity our lives can be in danger. 

After the earthquake in August 2016 in Italy, the first thing said was that without electricity it’s impossible to help people. In these situations you understand the power of electricity. Think about the business in those terms: our business is extremely important.

As an owner I keep four things in mind. First, what business are we in and does this business have a future? I can say Ensto certainly does.

Second is capital. Do we have enough money to develop the company? I believe we do. Of course we’ll take small steps suitable for Ensto. I want a profitable company that we can develop and be proud of.

Third is people. With whom are we conducting this business? We have a lot of wonderful people, and together we can make Ensto into something even more special.

Fourth is reputation. Ensto’s reputation, its brand, is at a very good level and I want to continue to strengthen it.


What are your immediate priorities as Chairman?

Our top priority is developing a new Ensto strategy, which I want to ensure is a success. The Board’s job is to support Ensto and its management as much as possible in this process. I’m very optimistic that we’re proceeding in the right way in the right direction.

Second, I believe we all understand that we can’t be number one in the world in everything we do. We have to make some choices. Where, and with which range of products or concepts, can we be at the top internationally — and, in particular, why?


What could that mean for Ensto?

 We have to switch our mindset away from products. We are still too product oriented. Our focus should be on building a better business with customer-focused Ensto solutions.

What does this mean? Here we must understand the big trends taking place in the world. What does the IoT (internet of things) or AI (artificial intelligence) mean for Ensto? To me this means a major transformation of Ensto’s culture and of our mindsets. We need to be very agile.

I am also very happy that we have a new CEO, Ari Virtanen, who comes from a world where digital innovations have played a big role. I like his attitude and approach in moving toward new areas.

We need to remember three words: smart, smart, and smart. Every future component or product we have has to be smart. Every future solution we build must be smart. It’s been argued that every company in the future will have a digital aspect. We can do that with Ensto, too, and we must be able to explain to customers what they get more by working with us. We are at a good starting point for this, but it needs to be developed.


Given the move to digital, what can be said about Ensto’s place in it?

Where Ensto is concerned the question is How can we find new business models – and why does that model make sense for Ensto and for our customers? 

3D printing will change manufacturing. The tools surrounding us will become smarter and smarter, and we must be constantly aware and up to date. If we don't want to embrace the new possibilities that technologies enable, then the technologies might as well not exist. For Ensto there are many opportunities. It is only to choose the right ones.  


What are your ambitions for Ensto in terms of size?

We should have the ambition to be bigger, but the question is when and how. It’s about profitable growth. As an owner I always try to think about the next five to ten years. By that time we will certainly have a stronger and bigger business compared to today.


Will Ensto remain a family company?

EM Group Oy, the parent company of Ensto, was divided into three companies as of the beginning of 2017. Ensto, which started as a family business, will remain a family business, and the new parent company is Ensto Invest. The third generation is enthusiastic about Ensto.

It’s of course easy to give money to your children, but how do you pass on leadership knowledge? You can’t. The new generation must earn their places themselves. But we can help, and this is why we started special training for them some years ago that still continues today.

The generational change, however, is not just for the owners. It must go through the entire company. Young people’s mindset is different. They bring new spirit to the company and they move faster. If you can combine experience with this young spirit, then it’s a winning combination.


Is anything in particular holding Ensto back?

We are still suffering from the 2008 recession. While the economic effects have passed, the recession is still too much in our minds. How can we get the maximum potential out of the company? We have not activated our people’s full potential. But first we have to clarify direction for them. If people know where to go, they will certainly move faster towards the goal. 

In every case, we have to focus on our customers. Who will they be in the future? This is of critical importance.

Ensto is currently in a good situation. Now we will find the Ensto way to work. All the doors are open for us. Our next step is not so far away, and it is possible to reach it with our excellent Ensto people.


Text: Scott Diel

Picture: Kaupo Kikkas