Lappeenranta-born Osku Lyytikäinen began his studies locally, at Saimaa University of Applied Sciences, in 2015. In December 2019 he graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Mechanical Engineering, and has since worked both in industry and for the Finnish Defence Forces. Following a break to reflect on future prospects, his path took him to a new sector: biorefining.
“My first experience of the forestry industry was in summer 2018, working as a process operator at a pulp mill. Since that summer job, my interest in the sector has only grown. In 2019 I worked as a debarking plant mechanical maintenance supervisor at the UPM Kaukas pulp and paper mill. That year I also graduated with my degree in mechanical engineering,” states Osku, explaining the early stages of his career.
Having taken a break to reflect on his options, Osku found himself working for the army. Following his stint in the Defence Forces, in autumn 2020, once again he began looking for a new role. His intention now was to find a job in an industrial company in Lappeenranta or nearby.
“My main goal was getting a position at Lappeenranta Biorefinery. I'd heard good things about the place from an acquaintance I’d worked with in summer 2019. The job descriptions and atmosphere at the biorefinery sounded appealing.”
That appealing image proved itself to be true when Osku was offered a summer supervisor position in mechanical maintenance in February 2021. Whilst the biorefining sector was new to him, his interest and sense of responsibility served him well, and continue to do so even now: Osku has now signed a contract to work as a mechanical maintenance work planner until the end of 2022, at the minimum.
“As a summer supervisor, the working day starts with going through the diary. If there are contractors coming onto the site, I arrange work permits for them. My day largely consists of standard work planner tasks, such as managing documentation, using and updating our ERP system, and creating tasks. I also serve as a kind of working partner for the mechanical supervisor, and I also receive tasks from them. I provide support on the small, day-to-day things.”
The sense of community is strong at the biorefinery, where sharing tasks and covering for others when needed, for example during holidays, are the norm. What is the workload like?
“Resources here are well thought out; the workload is just right, and based on good, solid foundations. The amount of work feels reasonable. Collaboration is a key tenet of our working community, and for that reason lots of decisions are made together. When needed, we've brought in additional resources – for those times when the load becomes too great. It’s a sensible measure and good indicator that occupational well-being is valued here,” emphasises Osku.
Starting off in from pulp and paper mill debarking plants, Osku has progressed on to biorefinery maintenance, and will soon be making the move to mechanical work planner. Lyytikäinen has acquired plenty of experience at UPM already:
“My experience has been that after joining UPM, where you go then is highly dependant on you as an employee. The kind of contribution you make and where you yourself want to go can be key factors in determining what your future looks like. In a large organization there are all kinds of routes available, with something different for everyone. I would certainly recommend UPM as an employer.”
Within the scope of each role, the biorefinery can provide all kinds of new experiences and challenges. Job descriptions are variable and each day is different.
“My work is very diverse. In addition to jobs on the mechanical side of things, I've also been able to familiarize myself with various infrastructure tasks. Every day I have the chance to do and learn something new. That is, of course, influenced by my own desire and interest in the various tasks. If you show willing, you will be given responsibilities, and stepping up to the plate also opens doors to new kinds of tasks. All things considered, the work we do here at the biorefinery is very much a joint affair, and we work as a team. We each have our own area of responsibility, however we all have each others’ backs.”
In Osku’s view, the biorefinery's future is bright, and perhaps even growing.
“Whilst there may be challenges from time to time in various parts of the forestry industry, this spring has shown signs of growth for the biorefinery. It appears to be a unit that is experiencing growth, with a need for resources and contract extensions. Things are looking positive!” Osku declares happily.
During his free time, this summer supervisor enjoys all kinds of sports and exercise. He is also keen to sing the praises of Kaukaan Lyly ry, which offers Kaukas locals a variety of sports opportunities.
“In the summer I can usually be found playing golf or tennis, whilst in the winter I focus on working out at the gym. I come from Lappeenranta originally, and I still live here now, with my partner. The size of the city is just right, with plenty of opportunities for sports, culture and shopping. What's more, Lappeenranta is a diverse city that really comes alive in the summer. To UPM employees moving here from out of town, I would highly recommend Lyly membership, which gives you all kinds of opportunities to enjoy sports and get involved in sporting events,” advises this sporty Kaukas local.
Text: Ella Taavitsainen, summer worker