What is the best part of being a GROW trainee?

Was it the fact that we learned directly from the heads of divisions about the company’s strategy? Or attending the leadership modules at IMD business school? Or even the fact that we have worked in strategical tasks around the company’s transformation? Those were my thoughts when I was asked that question by Tiina Tammenpaä in Kanavaranta for a video interview that will promote the GROW global trainee programme 2017.

What is the best part of being a GROW trainee?

My conclusion was that all these experiences have had a major impact on something much bigger. Something that created some of my most important learnings during the programme. I am referring to the evolution and growth of the GROW trainees as a group, as a team, or as others would say, as an entity. Being part of that process is for me one of the best parts of being a GROW trainee.

For the first module back in September, I arrived in Helsinki at the hotel on a Sunday afternoon, somehow nervous and excited at the same time. I remember making an effort to correctly remember 27 new names​ (I’m sure you’ll agree that this is not an easy task, especially for a Guatemalan who is used to names like Jose, Maria and Juan).

But that memory feels like years ago from last week when together we prepared presentations for the GLT and Sustainability Performance Network. I realised that we had become a group where, yes, we were able to disagree with each other; but above that, a group where we were able to push each other towards our vulnerable side and outside our comfort zone; to talk about covered processes, feelings and "elephants in the room"; and to give real, sincere, constructive feedback to each other.

We have benefited from each other's expertise but also helped during common professional and personal challenges. The fact that I felt free to share this blog with some of my GROW colleagues for feedback before posting it speaks for itself.

I was thinking about this last Monday on my way to Kabel Mill, while I was listening to a podcast where Charles Duhigg was discussing about high-performing teams. According to Duhigg, one of the characteristics in high-performing teams are informal norms around open dialogue and social sensitivity. He points out that both increase the psychological safety of the team's members and enables everybody to perform at their highest level. This is very similar to what we have learned during our modules at IMD.

This might be just one "arista of the game" of becoming a high-performing team and we certainly still have a lot to learn from the many great teams in the company. What I want to emphasise is that working around these informal norms has giving me and others the opportunity to experiment and grow as team players and learn about how others perceive us and our actions.​

As time goes by and the programme continues, my biggest hope is that all 26 of us remain as one team, always capable of bringing the best out of each other. But I also hope that we will be able to bring some of this environment back into our units and teams and contribute to become the Stora Enso team that takes us further towards our transformation into the Renewable Materials Company.

Oscar Duarte

Business Developer, Düsseldorf Office (Group)

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