A Career Path to Sustainable Success

Jun 19, 2023

Vesa Pitkänen sitting at his desk

Sustainability is a big topic and we wanted to interview one of our employees who has been working closely with it as part of Valmet’s Beyond Circularity project. Let's hear what Vesa has to say about working at Valmet!

Who are you?

“My name is Vesa Pitkänen, and my academic background is in engineering and business. I graduated as a M.Sc. (tech) from industrial energy engineering in the end of 2022 and currently am finishing my last courses in my master’s degree in business.”

Vesa, what brought you to Valmet and when?

“I started my Valmet journey in summer 2021 as a sustainability trainee, working for the Sustainability team in the Valmet headquarters. In January 2022, I continued as a thesis worker in the Operational Development R&D team, with the thesis focusing on carbon capture and hydrogen production in biorefineries. During my thesis work I was also appointed to work as a project coordinator in Valmet’s Beyond Circularity project, which I got a chance to continue after completing my thesis. “

What is the Beyond Circularity project about?

The Beyond Circularity project is a four-year Business Finland funded innovation and R&D project aiming towards strengthening Valmet’s portfolio facilitating green transition to our customers. It is part of the Business Finland Veturi initiative. The scale and importance of Beyond Circularity is significant with research areas focusing on global megatrends.”

What does your job entail?

“It’s a cliché, but I find my job very versatile. One of my favorite tasks has been to give trainings or information sessions to internal and external stakeholders of the project. Other interactive tasks include meetings and workshops with Business Finland and other companies with a connection to Business Finland, attending seminars and internal meetings of course. Individual work has included research on emerging technologies interesting for Valmet and helping with ad hoc tasks. The ad hoc tasks usually include numbers and Excel, which I highly enjoy.”

What kind of colleagues/team do you have?

“We have a highly competent and fun team to work together with! Our Operational Development R&D team is relatively new with altogether six members working on the Beyond Circularity project. The main task of our team is to manage and facilitate the project.

The research and development in the subprojects are carried out by R&D professionals from other functions, and hence wide co-operation is done throughout the organization for the project to succeed. The competence range within our team is wide with experience from supply chain, health, safety and environment (HSE), sustainability, life cycle assesment (LCA), business, and obviously R&D. In addition, the PhDs in the team have a very deep understanding on many of the project topics. The broad and deep understanding within the team is certainly one of the strengths of the team and has enabled me to learn more than anticipated about the spearhead technologies in the forest and energy sectors!”

Valmet Beyond Circularity team members in front of an info stand

What do you find the most challenging at work?

“I think the most challenging entity is created simply by the large size of the project. The larger the project, the larger the impact and number of parties impacted through the project. As the Beyond Circularity project impacts many stakeholders with everyone having their own needs, careful planning and fluent communication is highly important for successful project management.”

How would you describe Valmet’s culture?

“I see my position perfect for a recently graduated, also because of the challenging and versatile tasks, but especially because of my foreperson, and the culture within our team. Personal development is allowed and encouraged also outside of the workplace, for example by giving a room for further education.

In addition, emphasis on maintaining a healthy work-life balance is set with different team activities and flexibility in working hours and holidays. In the picture below, we were celebrating my graduation together with the team."

The team celebrating Vesa's graduation over dinner

What makes Valmet a great place to work?

“For me, it’s the people, my two forepersons during my time at Valmet, and Valmet’s position in the forest and energy sector. I have met the most wonderful people in the company and with some of them, I am also in touch during my free time. The two forepersons I have had, have mentored me, giving me a special opportunity to grow as a young professional in the company. I believe the industries Valmet operates in have almost limitless potential in enhancing the sustainability and effectiveness of modern society.”

What do you like to do in your free time?

“Most of my free time I spend with my family and friends. Sports has also a large role in my life. During the past year, I have tried some traditional Finnish sports by attending Jukola and Finlandia with my friends. In addition, we qualified ourselves to the second division in floorball this season. I also like to travel in my free time and as a matter of a fact, tomorrow I’m leaving to Costa Rica!”

Read more about working at Valmet