Mika Haikola brings fresh international experience to the Ensto team.
For the last 24 years, Mika Haikola’s focus has been international. He most recently ran seven units for B&W, the New York Stock Exchange-listed steam boiler manufacturer which provides more than 300,000 megawatts of generating capacity in approximately 60 countries.
On November 18, 2019, he joined the Ensto team and serves as President of the Ensto Utility Networks business unit.
At B&W, Haikola ran operations in the UK, Brazil, South Africa, Germany, the Czech Republic, Sweden, and Finland. He oversaw sales offices, the service business, plus a factory in Glasgow.
“Dealing with seven different cultures taught me to think global and act local,” says Haikola, “which means to respect the local, unwritten business rules. In Brazil, there’s the custom to hand carry proposals to the customer. You can’t tell them to change that, yet at the same time the individual countries have to understand the global goals.”
Haikola has been hired at Ensto specifically because of his international experience, and his ability to make things happen while still respecting the local cultures.
A major part of his role at Ensto will be to help the business grow.
Just as cultures differ across countries, he says, so does the recipe for growth in those cultures. “There are countries in Europe where organic growth is difficult without a local foothold. Germany and France are both examples. In those cultures you have to have a local context.” He adds that there are language barriers in many countries, as well, where English is not the lingua franca of business.
The United States is another market with massive growth potential for Ensto. And it’s a market Haikola knows well, given his experience with B&W, an American company with 1.6 billion dollars in sales and 4,000 employees.
Having spent a large part of his career in large organizations, Haikola finds Ensto’s size and culture to have real appeal. He shakes his head in wonder at the speed a recent decision was made at Ensto concerning a property lease agreement in a foreign country. “I’m surprised how dynamic the decision making is at Ensto when it’s necessary. Decisions are made around a table. There isn’t a lot of paperwork and signatures required.”
“A very important factor for me is Ensto’s values. Winning together, creativity, trust capital – it’s very easy to buy into these. In other companies I’ve seen nice visions and values written down, but how often are these really followed? At Ensto, I see that these values were created together with employees. To truly live the values is a very big thing.”
Haikola believes his style of management will play well at an organization where employees are so integral to the culture. “I want to participate, but I want to be the coach and not the micromanager. Sure, making a tough decision if necessary is expected of a manager at my level. But helping people when they think that I can add value is key. As you rise in a big organization your work becomes more administrative. What I’ve been missing is the customer interface, and that’s where I think I can really bring some value.”
Text: Scott Diel