When other children spent summers chasing butterflies through the fields in rural Finland, I was staring at a hydropower plant next to my uncle’s farm in the Kainuu region, 600 kilometers north of Helsinki. I wondered how it worked, and how it could transport electricity to other places. I could look through the windows at all the parts and see the overhead cables leaving the building.
I never got an official tour, but maintenance workers once left the door open, and my cousin and I snuck in for a look. Instead of chasing us out, the maintenance workers gave us a peek at the turbine. (After that, though, the workers always locked the door behind them!) But that one brief look was enough to hook me.
At the Helsinki University of Technology (now Aalto University) there was no more need to sneak in, and I was able to formally study power generation and transfer. After completing my Master’s degree, I landed a job at Konecranes, where I worked with power transfer and frequency converters, and never for a moment lost my childhood enthusiasm. The power chain got completed in my very first job!
Eventually moving to Ensto, I relished the opportunity to delve into the technical aspects of the job as Product Development Manager at Ensto DSO. I now lead the team that designs and builds accessories for overhead- and underground power systems. We’re connecting cables with all kinds of accessories.
While I’ve always been fascinated with technology, management work has fostered a fascination with leadership and psychology. One example is Ensto’s new underground cable connector generation which features stepless screw shearing for the smoothest cable connection possible (no hammering or grinding required). I didn’t lead that project, nor did I design it, but I chose the personnel for the project and supported the team that produced what is probably the world’s best connector.
When the entities I worked with got bigger, I started to understand that success at that level is the result of massive cooperation. I saw that choosing the right people with the right skill sets gives you a solution faster. And so I’ve become fascinated with learning about people. I need to know what a person is good at and what he or she isn’t good at, and then put the right people together.
I believe the right team in the right culture can do most anything. We take teams with massive amounts of experience, put everyone on the same premises where communication happens naturally over coffee and in the corridors, and then have our own lab next door where we can test and break the products. All of this translates into quality, speed, and longer-lasting products, some of which will be used for 50 years. In fact, we’ll all be retired before our products’ lifespans end in the field.
How do I know if I’ve done my job well? I think one sign is when the workplace feels like a family. The first thing I hear when I enter the office is laughter. That tells you a lot about the place.