Modern leader, part 1: Riitta Ilmasti

In this three-part series we get to know three modern leaders of Fimpec. In the first part Riitta Ilmasti tells how she how she implements her own values in her work and how important values are reflected at Fimpec.

Project manager Riitta Ilmasti got to know Fimpec through a colleague in 2010 when she was a project manager in the industry sector. A few years after that she transferred to Fimpec and first worked in MetsäGroup’s bioproduct factory project in Äänekoski as project coordinator. After that she has worked in smaller local projects in project design and implementation as project manager. Now she is working in MetsäGroup’s bioproduct factory project in Kemi, where she is as project coordinator responsible for quality documentation and managing site processes.

Reaching success with teamwork

Ever since from the beginning, Fimpec’s way of working, attitude and values have made an impression on Ilmasti. Teamwork and doing things together have been in important parts of projects. Ilmasti describes project work as hectic and such where one cannot always plan their work.

“Of course, we always make schedules and plans this work also requires an understanding of future issues and an understanding of what will come up later in the project.”

So, things are being prepared, but according to Ilmasti work is more about living in the moment and being outside the comfort zone.

“Project work is not suitable for a 9 to 5 kind of person. You need to enjoy the challenges that come up.“

According to Ilmasti, a close project team, in which trust for coworkers runs deeps, gives balance to the challenging work. People genuinely work together and help each other in any situation. Ilmasti also believes that people who are suitable for this way of working gravitate naturally towards. Because an important part of the success of the project is the close project team.

“In the Äänekoski project, smooth collaboration was one of the basic features in success and now in Kemi I can notice the same thing. It’s great being a part of it”, Ilmasti describes.

Passion for successful projects manifests for Ilmasti in the notion that she lives for the projects. She compares project management to raising a child.

“The project is kind of like your own child, the process is the same. You take the projects as your own and live with it, aim for the common goal and finally you hand it over with the felling that it does well on its own and you can gladly give it up.”

Openness is the key

Ilmasti strives to bring modern leadership to her own work through openness, honesty, and solution-orientation. She gives an example of her way of operating:

“Together with an area manager we built a mapping for a process, and we invited designers, managers and contractors to the planning. We made a table where we gathered all the information which we went through with all the parties. We thought of what we want and what would be the desired outcome, what are everyone’s tasks. Everyone had an opportunity to have a say in the success of things and solving potential problems. The feedback was good, and it worked for everyone. Most of all it was transparent.”

According to Ilmasti, modern leadership shows in Fimpec’s approach especially through openness.

“We don’t have a high hierarchy, it’s possible to reach everyone and you can contact anyone. Everyone can also openly bring up issues and for example in meeting it’s possible to bring matter into discussion with a low threshold. Everything is in that sense very open.”

Values come from the people

Ilmasti is especially happy that at Fimpec she can do her work by leaning to her world of values and persona. She feels that with the help of her project manager experience, knowledge of projects and working with the heart she an lead a project to success. As a leader she wants to be a coach and doesn’t believe in authoritarian leadership.

“Of course, there must always be somebody who takes responsibility and makes decisions, but otherwise I want to promote teamwork.”

Ilmasti explains that before she only dreamed that she would be able to implement her own values in work, but at Fimpec it really is possible. Trust, appreciation of one’s own work and being able to work both independently and with others are values Ilmasti appreciates at Fimpec. Working at Fimpec has also strengthened the notion that value based work can be economically viable.

In addition to openness, insight and straightforwardness mean everything to Ilmasti in her own work. She feels that when one can implement their own values at work and when it is supported, the work is fruitful. It would be impossible for Ilmasti to work differently now.

“At Fimpec, values come from the inside, from people already working according to their own as well as shared values. Nobody has dictated from outside that we should follow some specific pattern. And that’s why certain kind of people gravitate to Fimpec, and thus good modes of operation can continue.”

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