Story | 11/21/2023 12:41:44 | 3 min Read time

UPM Graduates Life: Building expertise in a highly innovative industry

Matleena Rinnekangas

UPM Graduate

After spending several summers working in production, I wondered what my next step should be in this industry. Upon hearing about the UPM Graduate Programme, I decided it would be the perfect deep dive into different roles and functions in a global forest company.

I started my studies at Aalto University in the department of Industrial Engineering and Management. I have always been intrigued by heavy industries due to their profound influence on the national economy. I also wanted to know more how factories operated and what was needed for everything to function smoothly. After my first year of studies, I landed my first position as an operator – and so my career in the forest industry began. 

In my role as an operator, I gained valuable insights into paper machine operations and encountered various problem situations. Every day is different when you are working at a paper machine, where the ability to solve problems efficiently and safely is highly important. Later, when I was appointed as a shift supervisor overseeing two paper machines and the associated personnel, I assumed broader responsibilities. This position deepened my understanding not only of paper machine functions but also of the different stakeholders involved. I think being a supervisor in particular gave me a soft landing to understanding the complicated functions of a factory.

From the beginning, my goal has been to build up my expertise on the production side. I firmly believe that UPM’s high-quality products and satisfied customers derive from the company’s deep understanding of the raw product and its quality implications. Due to the complexity of the mill functions, raw materials and processes, my ongoing learning journey has been both challenging and fascinating.

Now, in my first rotation at Jämsänkoski, I find myself in a wholly different role related to technical customer service and trial runs. Even so, every hour of every day I am reminded that my production experience is the driving force behind my positive performance in this position. My new role has also sparked my interest in our clients’ processes and how they affect the quality measures we must consider in our products. For example, it has been intriguing to learn about the different printing methods used by our customers. This has opened my eyes to the quality measures that have the greatest impact for different end uses.

 

I find fulfilment in my role at UPM knowing that I am contributing to the transition towards a fibre- and recycling-based economy in the packaging industry. It has been really fascinating to observe the various innovative substitutes that exist for plastic. This realization has reinforced my belief that even though the forest sector is commonly viewed as a mature industry, this sector is really a highly innovative field with a significant impact on the world.

So far, the program has offered me new challenges which I think will help me gain professional confidence. I also appreciate the effort that UPM has made to accommodate graduates as flexibly as possible. My rotations and roles were for instance tailored to fit my interests and educational background. I’m really looking forward to my upcoming rotations in Tervasaari and Belgium and contributing my best effort to building a future beyond fossils!

Are you interested in the UPM Graduate Programme? Application time is open during early December until end of January.

www.upm.com/graduate

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