After more than 15 years at the company, Ismo Nousiainen will take the helm as the new CEO of Metsä Fibre from the beginning of 2018. Nousiainen will assume this new role after formerly serving as SVP Production. He was already appointed deputy CEO of the company in August.
“I had already enrolled on a doctoral programme and was considering a career in research as the new millennium began, but I nevertheless decided to apply for the vacant post of recovery line operations engineer at the mill in Äänekoski where I had spent working summers during my student years,” Nousiainen says.
Advancing to the position of Head of Production at Äänekoski within a couple of years, he was appointed Mill Manager of the company’s Kemi mill in 2004, and from 2008 onwards he served as pulp business Production Manager based in Espoo.
“I have been fortunate in the sense that my duties here have always been challenging, interesting and engaging. The high points were times when our team managed to find effective solutions, and I have had many good conversations in the field that reinforced my view of our strong corporate culture and attitude of continuous improvement,” Nousiainen explains.
Metsä fibre - A flexibly evolving enterprise
A great deal has come to pass in the global pulp business since the early days of Nousiainen’s career. For example, pulp imports into China have increased almost tenfold since the early 2000s. This also coincided with a decision at Metsä Fibre to adopt a business approach based on customer-focused processed management.
“Customer focus has become a cornerstone of the company’s operations and development. We have also managed to do an excellent job responding to requirements and trends in such fields as sustainable development, environmental performance and occupational health and safety. This has then in turn contributed to the competitiveness of our customers in these respects.”
He also feels that the sustained good condition of the company’s production facilities has been a fundamental factor in its success.
“Our softwood pulp manufacturing facilities are the best in the world in terms of technical age and output capacity. This helps to improve reliability of supply, which is naturally a crucial factor for our customers.”
Good contacts within the group and the forest industry
Nousiainen feels that one of his strengths as CEO is that his previous duties have given him ample opportunity to get to know the company’s staff – and that they accordingly also now know him quite well.
“I think one good aspect of this company in general is that communications and discussions are straightforward at all levels. Good communication channels are essential for continually improving operations. We must similarly engage in active dialogue with our customers in order to remain aware of their current and future needs.”
“Customer focus has become a cornerstone of the company's operations and development.”
Nousiainen can expect a busy period in his new job getting to know the company’s customers, and sawmill business operations will also be an unfamiliar item on the desk of the incoming CEO. The Finnish sawmills of Metsä Group were incorporated into Metsä Fibre at the end of 2016 in order to optimise the prospects of finding industrial synergies between the pulp and sawn goods operations. Nousiainen will also seek to improve services in this respect to satisfy customer requirements more effectively.
A bioproduct mill to celebrate the centenary of Finnish independence
Metsä Fibre entered a new era this year on launching operations at the world’s first new generation bioproduct mill in August. Nousiainen finds it fitting that the largest investment in the history of the Finnish forest industry should be completed in the year when the nation celebrates its centenary as an independent country.
“The bioproduct mill represents a powerful demonstration that the forest industry has the capacity to evolve. Our versatile range of bioproducts specifically serves the megatrend towards responsible industry. The manufacturing operation is also entirely free of fossil fuels and self-sufficient in energy, with the plant generating two and a half times as much electric power as it requires to sustain its operations. We have also halved the environmental emissions of our production processes.”
Nousiainen feels that Metsä Fibre would do well to highlight its responsible product manufacturing and environmental efficiency throughout the supply chain, beginning with the aspect of sustainable forestry in which Finland has the world’s longest tradition.
A partnership founded on values
Nousiainen will take charge of a well-maintained company with operations that are firmly established from the point of view of its customers, staff and owners. He will nevertheless be responsible for further improving Metsä Fibre to ensure that it continues to meet the needs of all stakeholders.
“I would like the customer to see our corporate values of reliability, co-operation, renewal and responsible profitability realised with increasing clarity in all of our operations. I think a partnership is something that must be earned on a daily basis, and it will only succeed through a strong foundation of values.”
Nousiainen stresses that a business can never be the finished article. An evolving operating environment also calls for continual enhancement of operations.
“I have called on our management team to consider the longer-term basis of our competitiveness and ways in which we might more effectively clarify our common goals. It is essential for the entire organisation to collaborate in pursuing the same objectives.”
CAMILLA WIKSTRÖM APPOINTED SVP PRODUCTION
As of 1 January 2018, Camilla Wikström – currently Mill Manager at the bioproduct mill in Äänekoski – will start as SVP Production of pulp business at Metsä Fibre. Taking on the task after newly appointed Metsä Fibre CEO Ismo Nousiainen, Wikström’s background is in product development, technical sales and production. She has worked for Metsä Fibre since 2002.
“In my new position, I believe I will be able to make use of all my previous work experiences, combining knowledge about customer demands and leadership of a pulp mill. As Mill Manager, I have learned that the key elements of leadership are setting clear targets, assigning responsibility, following up on results and understanding that cooperation and committed personnel lead to successful results,” Wikström says.
The massive bioproduct mill project culminated this August, when the mill came into operation as planned, exactly on schedule and on budget. Wikström joined the project as Mill Manager in September 2015.
“This past two years has allowed me to further enhance my competence in overall project management. Besides a broad experience of working with customers, I consider disciplined leadership skills and the ability for prompt decision making as personal strengths when moving on to the new position. These qualities can also be implemented in everyday production.”
Wikström says she is looking forward to working with all Metsä Fibre mills, which promises to be an interesting learning experience.
“In my new position I plan to place special emphasis on the areas of safety, clear target setting, continuous follow-up of results and personnel competence. Target setting includes the principle of continuous improvement with regards to the quality of pulp, production, cost efficiency and sustainability.”