"The background story of how I ended up in Kaukas is quite amusing. When I moved to Lappeenranta and went driving around the city for the first few times, I saw the chimneys of Kaukas. Right then, my interest in working here sparked. The Kaukas factories were actually one of my first points of interest here," recalls Kalle Mustakallio. Originally from Kangasala, Mustakallio started his studies in industrial management at LUT University two years ago. This is his first summer at the Kaukas sawmill.
He has completed two years of studies so far. His major is industrial management, with a minor in chemical process engineering. Mustakallio ended up choosing industrial management because he was interested in all engineering fields as well as business studies, and industrial management offered a broad range of studies.
Gaining valuable work experience
Kalle started working at Kaukas in early May. His interest had been piqued well before applying for the position, and ultimately, it was the job application for Kaukas that caught his attention. His work this summer consists of training as an acting manager and filling in during the vacation period, with responsibilities in log sorting and sawing. "I didn't have any previous experience in the forestry sector, but I had some experience in field sawing. Of course, it's a simplified process compared to an industrial scale sawmill, but there are certain principles that apply to both. I also didn't have any previous experience in supervisory work," says Kalle.
Kalle's job description at Kaukas is extensive. "You could say that the first hour of work usually goes according to the same routine every day. I write a report about the previous day and what has been sawn and how much. The reporting also includes investigating any disruptions and their impact on production and work safety. After that, I go on rounds in the production area and talk with the employees. We exchange news, opinions, and wishes. The rest of the day is spent handling various ongoing tasks, which can be anything. When I came here for a visit, the production manager even said that there's no such thing as a typical day. That makes the work interesting."
Kalle feels that his work also supports his studies because problem-solving skills are important both in his job and in studying industrial management: students in the field and industry professionals are seen as problem solvers. At Kaukas, situations are resolved through well-organized teamwork in a good work team. "You learn a lot here. The clearest lessons have come at the level of understanding the process, as I've started to grasp how a large sawmill operates from the moment the wood enters the gates to when it's sent to the customer. I've also gained insights into supervisory work, such as leadership and teamwork skills, as well as problem-solving in challenging situations. Safety also has its own significance, especially in this job, and my understanding of its importance has grown while working here." School has provided an introduction to topics that pique interest, but they are truly learned only through work. "I also believe that LUT University and UPM make a great duo for launching a career in Lappeenranta," summarizes Mustakallio.
Learning from experienced colleagues
“I'm grateful for how open-minded the production employees have been in welcoming me and teaching me about the process. I've learned the most about the process from them, and it helps me manage the overall picture. Perhaps I was surprised that I've learned the most about the process through problem situations, where the role of an individual machine becomes emphasized. I've discussed these matters a lot with the sawyers. I've also made mistakes and learned from them. Mistakes happen, you're allowed to make them, and you learn from them. It's easy to work in a good team." Colleagues describe Mustakallio as proactive and having a good approach, both regarding production and personnel matters.
Two months of work have already passed, and there are two more ahead. Working in Kaukas has been enjoyable and interesting for Mustakallio, and over the summer, his understanding of the interdependence of different sectors within the integrated mill has deepened. Mustakallio looks at the future with an open mind: "I will continue my studies in the third year in the fall. I will write my bachelor's thesis and graduate as a Bachelor of Engineering in the spring of 2024. I will gladly come back to work in Kaukas if the opportunity arises. I'm interested in the industry and the company, and I feel that I could have a career in the forest industry."
Text and photos by Tiia Käyhty