Out there and elsewhere: Qatar

Yesterday Anniina wrote us about her experiences from Ireland and China. I know working abroad is not probably as glamorous as I think it is, but I wouldn’t mind change my working location once in a while as Anniina have done. Based on her story, I think she doesn’t mind it either 🙂

Next in the line is Juha Kivelä who have been working in Qatar since the beginning of the summer. Qatar is located in a small Qatar peninsula in Persian Gulf sharing a border with Saudi Arabia. It has been said to be one of the richest countries in the world despite of it’s small size. So how Juha ended up there and why? Well, I will let him tell us more about it…

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Juha 

I started with Metso in March 2007, when I joined the Flow Control business line of Automation segment to do my Master’s Thesis for the Neles Smart Products department on Value Based Marketing. After the thesis, later in 2007, I first signed a temporary contract as a trainee and then after couple of months I was offered a position as a Business Analyst at the same department I had done my thesis for. In December 2008 I got then promoted to a Product Manager position in which I stayed until I moved here to Qatar at the end of May this year. I’m currently working as a Business Development Manager focusing on our Smart Products and I’m based in Doha, but still looking after the whole region. Here in Doha we are currently working together with a small 8 person team, our Middle Eastern ‘head office’ with more colleagues being located in Dubai. Besides Dubai and Doha, we have also an own office in Bahrain.

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One of the reasons I wanted to join Metso at first place were the international possibilities Metso offers for its employees as a global company. Since I joined the company I have actively shown my willingness to move abroad if a suitable opportunity comes across and now this spring the company’s needs and my own expectations then met and I got the opportunity to join our Middle Eastern sales and service team in a role where I can take advantage of what I have learned in my earlier positions working for the Product Line side of the business.

In my previous Product Manager role I had a global responsibility for the products I looked after for, so even if I have been based in Finland I have had the privilege to work together with our talented colleagues across the globe in a truly international working environment. Besides the Metso colleagues, I have also had chance to meet many of our customers in several different countries and continents. I had also made a few business trips to Middle East in the past, which made it easier to make the decision to move here since I was already somewhat familiar with the local working environment and culture and in addition knew many of the colleagues I was going to work with in advance… and what is maybe even bit more important, I was familiar with the local weather that can get quite hot during the summer months (when writing this, it is +42C outside and the humidity is expected to peak at 95% today).
So no culture shock’s so far in sight 😉

Qatar itself is an interesting country to work and live in, being a kind of a mixture of Western and Arabic worlds. It has rich natural resources that bring the country wealth that then again enables significant investments on developing the country. The population of the country is growing rapidly and especially the capital city of Doha is developing on a breathtaking pace. The current population of Qatar is about 2 million and it is expected to rise to 3 million by 2020. Endless amount of massive infrastructural projects are on-going or to be started, all aiming to have the city ‘ready’ for the 2022 Football World Cup that will be hosted by Qatar.

Qatar and the whole of Middle East is a market having a lot of growth potential also for us as a company, so I’m sure the challenging targets for the future will also bring along plenty of opportunities for the current and future employees of Metso. I’m myself currently here in Qatar on a 2+1 year contract, but the future will then tell how long I’m going to stay.

Juha

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Out there and elsewhere: Ireland and China

Last week I started preparing today’s blog post. I contacted few people within Metso and luckily 3 of them got back to me and wrote a little summary regarding their experiences of working abroad. Actually we have a pretty cool group together here; Anniina Leppänen has been working with Metso in Ireland and China, Juha Kivelä is writing from Qatar and Juha Yli-Petäys tells about his 2 years working period in Brazil. It’s a nice coincident they have experiences from such different countries, which makes you realize how international company Metso really is and what kind of opportunities it can offer for its employees.

Because I love to read “real life” stories and it is great that these people arrange time to write their stories down, I decided to publish them one by one during the end of the week so all of them have their time in the limelight. So lets give the stage for the first one of the week and of course, ladies first!

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Anniina

I have been working in Metso for almost 8 years now. I started in Metso Mining and Constructions as an intern in 2005 and I moved to Metso Automation in 2008. I have always been interested in working abroad and travelling, in fact before I even joined Metso I had already lived abroad a few years. My managers always knew I was interested in opportunities of going abroad, learning more and having new challenges and in 2007 that opportunity arose when Metso Mining and Construction hired me to work as a Customer and service administrator for the Irish market in Dublin, Ireland. The country and the city was already very familiar place to me as I had been living there before for a couple of years.

I enjoyed my job in Ireland. I gained good insight of working at the customer end dealing with quarry and mining customers and learned a lot about the business and the products. While working in Metso in Ireland I guess the biggest culture shock for me was that my manager and service engineers were always on the road so I pretty much worked alone in the office. Another challenge was to learn the wear and spare parts and the related drawings as an order handler in a sales unit has to have good knowledge of supplied parts.

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Anniina in Shanghai

The second time I had an opportunity to move abroad came while working in Metso Automation GBI (Global Business Information) Project. We had just started a new ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) implementation in Shanghai when we were informed that we’d have an opportunity to move there for the duration of the project. I must say at first I had to think about it as I had never traveled to China before but once we started the implementation and had visited Shanghai couple of times it was clear I would move to Shanghai.

Working in China was enticing. The culture is so different but I did not have much culture shocks as I am used to travelling and living abroad and also because we were well informed of the cultural aspects as we took a Chinese culture course before visiting Shanghai the first time. Shanghai is a modern city and they call it the Paris of the east. Although it is very Western it certainly has a different atmosphere that I had been used to. Already the language aspect can cause some confusion as locals do not really speak English widely so the best way is to learn to communicate with basic Mandarin. As I didn’t speak Mandarin and had never studied I quickly learned words to get by with. Especially with taxis, you either need to know the very basics or you must have your address you are going to written in Chinese. Well as I didn’t always have an opportunity to present the written address I was eager to communicate with the very basics of getting by with taxis.

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The lights of Shanghai

As Metso is an international company, working in Shanghai office does not differ that much of working in Finland or anywhere else. Of course there are the cultural aspects but you get used to the customs and habits quickly like the work hours are from 9 am to 5.30 am and that most of your colleagues get a company bus to work. Lunch is served in the canteen and there are no forks or knives available! When it is not too cold and too warm, my colleagues like to have a walk around the factory after lunch. In fact I think this has something to do with the Chinese custom of taking at least 90 steps every day to stay healthy.

To be honest I loved Shanghai and still do. It is extremely interesting place and there is always something going on at work or in the spare time. People are very friendly and interested in foreigners and many people wish to speak to you as they want to learn more English. I highly recommend!

Anniina

Coming soon…

The summer is almost over… Or at least I feel like that, as there is less than 2 weeks left of my summer trainee ship. After that it’s time to pack my bags and head to Mexico (Caramba!). Nevertheless, I wanted to write one more blog post before packing my stuff and flying away. So here is the pre-info about it…

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This is the place where I gonna go next… Mexico and the beach!

I might have mentioned before that I’ll graduate this autumn and therefore have been thinking a lot what I would like to do in the future. I love travelling and living in new places, so it is pretty obvious that I would love to find a job which would allow me to travel or live and work somewhere else than in Finland at least part of the time. I already know how you do it and what it’s like when you are student or even before that, but what is it like when you have your degree and maybe even bunch of work experience and you want to find a “real job” outside your home country?

Inspired by this dilemma and Jonathan’s blog last week, I chose to do my next blog post related to the subject. What is it like to work abroad when you actually already are in the “work life”? I sent off few inquiries to people within Metso who have gone to work in another country as an expat or for longer period of time. Now I’m waiting to get few answers and I’m sure they’ll have some interesting and maybe even helpful stories to tell us.

So I will get back to you next week, with some great stories, I hope! In the mean while, have a great end of the week!

Jenni

Chinese Summer

Hi everybody!

My name is Baixiang Wang, or Jonathan to my international friends and colleagues. I would like to share few thoughs of my summer here in Shanghai.

Summer vacation of 2013 may be the last summer vacation for many third grade students in university, but it’s has been a special time for me. As all students, who doesn’t want to have fun on summer vacation? Go to beach, go shopping, sleep until lunch time and do whatever we want to do. My name is Jonathan. I come from Taiwan. I am in third grade of university and I major in Finance. I spent my last summer vacation at Metso in China!

Did you know that Metso has been in China for the past 80 years?

Did you know that Metso has been in China for the past 80 years?

This summer I come to Metso Automation Shanghai for summer trainee. The environment here is very clean and comfortable; I think here is a desire working place for me. Although I came for summer trainee, I treat this as my first job. I was very nervous and excited, eager for learning new things that won’t be taught from professors, I learn in PAS marketing, and I think I had a wonderful experience. The most interesting is I learned how to use Avenue and Notes. Notes is the software which has e-mail function that use for Metso people everywhere. Aveneue is the intranet of Metso. Avenue allows Metso people in different places realize what happened to Metso, and you can find information that you need. I don’t even know there may be these things in a company. Besides, my manager and colleagues treated me very well, they are nice and kind, I really like them.

In here, I not only learn new things, also realized some concept. Like I can’t realize why I have to go to college and keep studying things, I think go to work first can get more things which teacher can’t tell us, and do is more meaningful than keep listening, writing and full of test. But someone here told me that I have to learn things in school first to ensure I can fit what my manager’s needs instead of they keep teaching me basic skill and knowledge, and that may be important if I want to be employed. This gave me lots of motivation to do better before I graduate.

On the weekends I visited some places in Shanghai. The most interest and impressive are the buildings on the two sides on HuangPu River. One side is full of modern building that we may see in many places, like shopping mall and office building, the symbol of prosperity. On the other is old style which can tell the atmosphere in 19 century of Shanghai, different style due to it’s a strategic point and occupation of countries, the reflection of history. This kind of combination makes HuangPu River looks like the compass of present and past, this makes Shanghai a unique and fascinating city. If you come to China you must visit Shanghai.

Some of my friends in university eager for finding a good job and have a life just like an office worker, instead of being a student. In here, I realized that working is not what most of us thought and making money isn’t easy at all, also holidays are the best present. However, it is a really great experience to get along with people in different places. My supervisor even invited me to have dinner with her family, they let me feel I am not alone here, cause they told me “If you missed your home, then come to us’’. In the future, I will feel glad that I did something meaningful in my last summer vacation when I recall this memory.

Time and space

It has always fascinated me how time goes so fast. It goes so fast that you may wonder where have your summer holidays gone? Is the summer already over? How come I´m back at work already? Who has stolen my coffee mug and where´s my favorite stapler?

Our working week is full of schedules, dead-lines and tasks that we need to operate. In an industry site, where I´m working, people are in a strong mist of work. Engineers are engineering, businessmen and women are looking sharp with their blazers, mobile phones are flashing everywhere and time is being spent by making machines, selling them and doing everything around them.

Time goes by and we generate a tunnel vision where we forget both time and space: people around us, buildings, light, nature, smells and noise. Don´t worry, it´s totally natural to forget these things. Humans are like that. We forget our surroundings and focus on the subject. We prioritize by not looking what´s around us and we ignore the small things and use our brains to do what´s important and what has to be done. Besides, is there any other way?

I have always been interested in the Lokomo industry site. It´s full of history, old buildings and tradition. There is always something going on and as I deliver goods at the site, I get to see small glimpses of time and moments that go by in a blink of an eye. I have tried to capture those small moments where time has paused and you can just observe how the nature is taking over, shadows are drawing figures and surrounding buildings are hypnotizing your senses. Next time when you pass that pile of pallets or that usual path to a meeting or use that familiar door, take your time and try to see what´s around you. Maybe you will find something new that you haven´t seen before.

Jaakko Vuorio

Summer Trainee and Day Dreamer

Metso Minerals, Tampere

How to prioritize tasks?

Yesterday was my last day at Metso this summer. I can’t believe how blazingly fast the time flew. In May and June I was just getting familiar with all my new responsibilities. Then June was already all about taking care of the production while the staff was on their well-deserved summer holidays. Now it’s beginning of August and it’s all over, but new adventures await. There was an important lesson learned this summer, I’ll come to that later in this text.

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As I wrote in my previous blog post I was substituting for the supervisor and production planner for the Heavy Value Stream in Metso Automation Valve Technology Center in Vantaa. Our stream was a tight bunch of professionals teamed up in order to secure the deliveries to be on time, plan everything in advance and to solve the problems in production the same second they occur. The team consists of a stream manager, supervisor, production planner, buyers (for the components we need), development engineer and most importantly around 30 hardcore metal workers, precise quality inspectors and warehouse workers to keep all this running.

It was truly an honor to work in a group like this.

July was extremely busy. As a supervisor of the factory it’s always up to you to fix whatever hold there is in the production. And oh boy, do those cases vary beyond unimaginable.  Even though in principle we just have a valve that can be open or shut, which is then operated with an actuator. But it’s never that simple with the material, functionality, painting, pressure testing, emission, quality and fire-proofing requirements. And these are just a portion of the possible requirements.

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As a production planner you really need to see the big picture. You’re planning the production for 2014 already. The number of factors to take into account when new orders are scheduled is quite stunning. Capacity of the factory, and the development of it, hundreds of suppliers with their own delays, holidays etc and top of all that the most important thing: the ever-changing needs and requirements of the customer in their own process!

When you combine these two positions you’ll get my summer job 2013! It was so amazing.

If I had to say what was the greatest lesson learned this summer I would say prioritization. Let me explain. 

I always wanted to be the kind of employee that gets every single task done right on time, or get back to some always within hour or so. I learned that in certain positions  it’s simply not possible anymore. Of course you can always lengthen your day, but I don’t know how long you can stay productive if you always work for eleven or twelve hours.

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The key thing I learned here was that not everything needs to be done immediately.  There ARE things that need to be handled immediately, but there are also things that need to be done “only” on the same week, or the same month or by the end of the year. The valuable lesson for me was that you’ll die in stress if you try to finish ALL the tasks, projects and arrangements always ASAP. And there’s no hippie ideology behind this, I think it’s important to be aware of it. You can lower your quality of working in order to finish all the tasks, but rushed decisions and “quick-fixes” seldom are the best option. I can’t say that this philosophy would work in ALL the jobs there are, but I found it useful in my work this summer. I think it’s really an important skill to recognize the priorities of different tasks.

Different things have different priorities. Everything can’t be on priority number 1.

My next challenge is to work as an energy ambassador for companies from the Vaasa-region. This is something totally different from the stuff I did at Metso, but I guess it’s good to try out different things in your life. Energy Ambassador visits ten countries and finds out all the latest in Finnish cleantech and energy solutions.

You can follow my journey here: http://energialahettilas.fi/

That’s all for this time! I wish everyone awesome last weeks of summer and I hope everyone have had as rewarding experiences at Metso as I did!

-Pentti