Growing Roots at Stora Enso - What Do New Employees Have in Common with Trees

Being one of the new GROW trainees I feel that we and actually all new employees are like young trees that need to grow their roots at Stora Enso before we can reach for the top and become mighty big and strong. Let me explain to you a bit later why I feel this way and first of all introduce myself.

Growing Roots at Stora Enso - What Do New Employees Have in Common with Trees

Who is Mea? Currently I work as a Customer Relations and Marketing Specialist for Wood Supply Finland (WSF). Our main task is to make sure that all Stora Enso mills in Finland get the raw material they need at the right time, in the right quality and for the best price. I myself am based in the Kanavaranta office in Helsinki, unlike most of my WSF colleagues. There are about 500 of us (plus harvesting/transportation contractors). We have around 100 offices as buying wood is a very regional business and we have mills to serve all over Finland. In the beginning it was fascinating to witness and learn how this organisation communicates with one another when teams are spread around Finland, a lot of us work very independently in the forests or on the road and many can’t be reached from their office desk most of the days. My own background is in business, in marketing and entrepreneurship to be precise. Me ending up in a renewable materials company and at the (in my mind super operational) beginning of the value chain might seem like a far stretch - in some ways it is, in some ways it isn’t. The reason why I can use my previous learnings about marketing, communication and customer relations is that I work with our private forest owner customers. There are about 700 000 forest owners in Finland and they indeed have quite a big impact on the wood price. Over a third of the wood that WSF buys on an annual basis comes from private forest owners and those deals have to all be made individually. We also sell silviculture services so forest owners truly are our customers in addition to the mills. How growing roots is relevant for new employees I feel there is something in common with forests and big organisations; they are both made up from many individuals of whom some are older, some are younger but they all stand next to each other, are somehow connected and create a larger ecosystem. New employees can in my opinion be compared to young trees that need to grow roots before they can grow bigger and strengthen the forest. Roots are known to have the following functions: 1. Absorption of water and inorganic nutrients. In the case of new employees this means listening to your colleagues and getting to know the organisation, its rules and values and starting to make sense of it and what your role is. This learning process should be the responsibility of the newcomer but it doesn’t hurt if you have a good on-boarding process and helpful colleagues who are willing to share their insights. 2. Anchoring of the plant body to the ground and supporting it. This I see as the organisation's responsibility to welcome and take care of the new employee and their wellbeing. Great leadership is one crucial aspect in supporting the newcomers and making sure they are motivated to work for the common goal. Another one is especially well taken care of at WSF; we have great focus on our employee’s occupational health and wellbeing. These things among others create a trustworthy relationship at the work place. 3. Storage of food and nutrients. Finally when the new employees have started to feel at home and found their place they gather more and more valuable experiences and knowledge about Stora Enso that will help them make better decisions in their jobs. This is the prerequisite that they can grow to be big and strong! I am very happy that I get to grow my roots particularly in the environment of Wood Supply Finland. Starting my career at the very beginning of the value chain is actually eye-opening because our WSF organisation is also deeply rooted in Finland and has a big impact on the local communities and I get to witness that in my daily job. WSF and thus also Stora Enso employs many local harvesting and transportation entrepreneurs and is an important and trusted partner to many Finnish families who sell wood from forests that their families have owned for decades. It is wonderful to get to know and talk to some of these people who have made a choice to supply us with this high quality renewable raw material in the past years.

Mea Mäkijärvi

Customer Relations and Marketing Specialist, Wood Supply, Helsinki (Headquarter)

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