This work gives me a sense of purpose – Sustainability Manager focuses on circular economy

Oct 5, 2021

We interviewed Cecilia Mickos, Valmet's sustainability manager, about her work in creating a more sustainable business and also her experiences as a relatively new Valmet (former Neles) employee. What improvements in sustainable development has she been particularly proud of, so far? And how does she find our culture?


What does a sustainability manager do exactly? What’s your area of responsibility?

I’m part of the Valmet Sustainability and HSE (Health, Safety, Environment) team, which manages and develops the HSEQ management system and supports the organization in our endeavor to become as sustainable as possible.

For my part this means, for example: reporting, internal auditing, and development projects. Most recently I’ve submitted the former Neles’ CDP (Carbon Disclosure Project) report and analyzed the results of Neles’ sustainability survey as part of the Materiality Assessment.

Why did you decide to go into the field of sustainability? Why is it important to you?

I knew I wanted to work within sustainability when I took a course in Green Logistics during my bachelor studies. A great reason for choosing that direction is based on my fascination for nature and the Nordic climate. Then I did my masters in Corporate Social Responsibility, and now I have the privilege to work with something that gives me a sense of purpose.

Working with sustainability from a corporate perspective is important to me because the necessary changes we need to make to secure a better future are harder for corporations than for individuals.

Working with sustainability from a corporate perspective is important to me because the necessary changes we need to make to secure a better future are harder for corporations than for individuals. Structures and ownership are more complex, but the changes are more impactful.

Which sustainability challenge have you been particularly happy to improve or solve here at Valmet? And what would you like to work on next?

I haven’t been with Valmet for long, but I feel good about having improved our sustainability rating scores. The ratings are done by independent rating organizations, such as Sustainalytics, which are widely used by clients, investors, and other financial market representatives.

Good scores strengthen our brand against competitors’ and are evidence of our sustainability work paying off. However, good scores do not mean we’re done with the work. Especially our supply chain and possibilities within circular economy need some focus now. I would also like to create a sustainability eLearning.

Neles aims to be a reliable partner offering sustainable solutions

At Valmet, sustainability is integrated into everything we do.

What would you do if you weren't doing sustainability for a living?

I could imagine myself working with business development, with programming in the tech industry, or maybe in logistics as I originally planned.

What is the best career lesson you've learned? 

I’ve learned that communicating clearly and asking questions when I’m unsure about something will save me time in the end. Nobody else can know what you are thinking, so if you don’t speak up when you have a different opinion or if you don’t tell your colleague that you are struggling to meet a deadline, you shouldn’t expect full understanding when you express yourself too late.  

What do you like to do in your free time? 

This or that?

Open plan office or closed office? This is a hard one, but I have to say closed office. It’s safer during a pandemic and one can focus or have virtual meetings without having to consider others.

Coffee or tea? Dark roast coffee.

Cats or dogs? Dogs.

Morning or evening? Evenings.

TV shows or movies? TV shows.

Off work, you’ll find me match racing (sailing), or at my family’s 100+ year old place in the Finnish archipelago. Match racing is a fairly new sport to me, though I’ve sailed all my life. It’s demanding, both technically and physically, but it’s a great way to practice teamwork and to be present. Our family place is an old farm out on an island. The isolated but beautiful environment is a good balance to the hectic life in city and the best place to relax.

Cecilia Mickos match racing (2).jpg

Cecilia enjoying the sea breeze while practicing her favorite hobby.

How would you describe your colleagues and the Valmet culture?

I’d say the Valmet culture is openminded, diverse and supportive. When I joined, I felt warmly welcomed by everyone. My team and other colleagues are all highly competent experts in their respective fields, and at the same time open to each other’s experience and personalities. The appreciation for each other’s differences is something to cherish.

How do you see the future of sustainability in our industry?

Sustainability will become a fully integrated part of our society. We won’t be looking at just the price and quality of products and services anymore; environmental and social factors will be just as important. This means we need to operate in a sustainable manner, make sure our suppliers do so too, and at the same time ensure a business with an offering that also clients in green markets are interested in.

Text originally published in 2021, and slightly updated in April 2022, due to the company name change to Valmet. 


Cecilia Mickos

Cecilia Mickos

Sustainability manager

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