Challenges and principles of Finnish Factory Manager in Poland: Spondeo interviews Juha Savolainen
Juha Savolainen is one of just a few Finnish factory managers in Poland. Savolainen has over 25 years of experience in a number of projects in the metal industry. He currently runs the Polish operations of HT Laser in Poznan and is responsible for the company increasing its development and expansion efforts into the European market. Spondeo asked him about some insights from production management.
Tuomas Asunmaa: You have worked as a manager in various companies in Finland, China and Poland. In which of these countries do you feel the best?
Juha Savolainen: All the countries have their own pros and cons. I always say that the number of problems is constant, but their form changes. No matter where you are. But seriously speaking... Finland will always be number one for me of course, but in Poland I do feel at home. Poles and Finns think alike about many things.
What are currently the biggest challenges that you face and how will you solve them?
I guess I am singing the same song as everyone else these days: inflation, interest rates, rising energy and labor costs, etc. Unfortunately, we are not ina position to solve these problems. We just do our best to live with them. This means constant price negotiations with our customers and subcontractors in order to maintain our competitive position on the market. We also have to be able to offer a competitive salary level to our employees. So far we have been reasonably successful in this. In my book, quality and safety come first and everything else follows.
How has the daily work of a factory manager changed since the pandemic?
In general, we survived the worst of the pandemic quite well. A big thank yougoes to our staff for this. They were very proactive and innovative in finding new ways to keep production going. Personally, I do not see any big changesin my daily work.
Why did you decide to work in Poland?
It’s a long story, but I will try to make it short. I was working for HT Laser before (2006-2013) and I also managed one project for HT Laser here in Poznań in 2012. During my time in China in 2016, I had a call from HT Laser and the rest is history. What could go wrong when you know the game and the players? I knew what I was sticking my head into. My family was also voting for Poland instead of the Far East.
What is your favorite place in Poznań?
Home and its surroundings. Citadel Park.
Are there any differences in management styles in Poland vs Finland?
I have a feeling that in Finland we have a shorter chain of command. This opinion is based only on my own experience. Personally, I am quite a straightforward and hands-on manager no matter where I am. I do not have a switch to change into Polish or Finnish mode in my style or behavior. However, it must be understood that there are certain boundaries in the cultures that should not be crossed.
What are your TOP 3 principles for managing Polish workers?
Know your staff on a personal level, if possible, and let them know you. Encourage employees to speak up about their opinions and participate in different processes. Manage possible conflicts properly. Do not turn a blind eye or try to shirk responsibility. It does not hurt to take a look in a mirror every now and then and ask if you have done your best with regard to the things mentioned above.
What is your forecast for HT Laser for the next year? What kind of scenarios do you have?
It looks like we will do just fine. Most of our capacity is already sold until Q3 and the order backlog looks good. There will be a challenge with capacity during Q1, but we will manage like we always do. All the time we are looking for new ways to increase our capacity to serve our customers better. Our newest machining center will be installed in December. It will significantly increase our CNC machining capacity and expand our range of machining services in the future.
HT Laser Sp. z o.o.
Juha Savolainen, CEO
+48 600 436 789
+358 40 827 3450
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Tuomas Asunmaa, CEO
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