In 2018, Antti Salmi was putting the final touches on the commissioning of Helen’s pellet boiler and getting ready to move on to the next project with his employer when he got a phone call from Vapo, Nevel’s parent company. The offer to take on a job as a project manager in automation made him pause and think about the next steps in his career.
A native of Lahti, Antti moved to Tampere and graduated from the Häme University of Applied Sciences in 2007 with a degree in automation engineering, specialising in process automation. He wrote his thesis for Metso Automation (known today as Valmet Automation), which gave him the opportunity to start his career in automation with the same company in Tampere. After a couple of years as a Project Engineer, Antti was promoted to Lead Engineer and given responsibility for the technical engineering and implementation of large automation projects. After 10 rewarding years at Valmet, Antti decided to take a bold step forward in his career.
A change that was the start of something better
Antti’s change of employer came with a major professional identity crisis, as his duties in the new company were very different from what he was used to in a large industrial automation company. Nevertheless, the change and the crisis were the beginning of something new. Soon, the focus of Antti’s job description shifted from project management to development. “I became fascinated by the remote operations centre and its digital platform, which is used to collect data as well as monitor and operate power and heating plants across Finland. I realised I could put my skills and experience to good use in its development, and we’ve been able to achieve good progress with the remote operations centre, its digital platform and its processes. My new duties have come with very interesting challenges that make every day at work feel meaningful.”
Antti subsequently became part of the Nevel organisation in the autumn of 2019 following Vapo’s decision to consolidate its infrastructure business for industrial customers and municipalities under a new company. As part of the restructuring, a new automation and analytics team was established to work on development projects, with Antti as the team leader. Together with his team, Antti has introduced new methods in their work. The team now works in accordance with the Scrum model, which helps focus the team’s energy on the right things as they deal with multiple concurrent development projects in different stages. Antti wants to maintain a positive team spirit. “The members of the development team touch base several times per week. We give each other positive feedback when we perform well. We try to learn from our mistakes and find better approaches through constructive criticism. Our team is open and we also talk about things that aren’t related to our work. It’s important that everyone enjoys their work.”
Success comes from the courage to take on new challenges
Antti wants to live a good and meaningful life and feel appreciated by his colleagues, friends and family. Meaningful jobs and interesting projects are the cornerstones of enjoying one’s work. As part of the Nevel organisation, Antti feels that his work is valued and it benefits the company, its customers and the surrounding society. “The most important thing for me is to feel that we are doing the right things to help our customers at Nevel.”
“As an automation engineer, it’s natural for me to focus on processes and operating models and to think about how to enhance them further. Group’s purpose, Sustainable Everyday Living, is at always at the heart of what I do. The way I understand it, it also includes thinking about efficiency. Doing things more efficiently increases savings and results in less material waste, for example. We can make use of data to find ways to reduce wasted heat or decrease fuel consumption, for instance, which enables us to further improve energy efficiency. These are examples of the practical things we do to make daily life more sustainable.”
Antti says his goal is to continuously develop as a person on his lifelong journey. “Among the Group’s values, courage to renew is close to my heart. I believe that success ultimately comes from the courage to take on challenges. We learn and become better people through trial and error. We learn how to do things better and, for example, reduce waste in the world. I think having the courage to learn is something that everyone should have as a guiding principle in life.”
Antti Salmi is an automation engineer who now lives with his wife in Helsinki, having previously lived in Lahti, Valkeakoski and Tampere. Earlier in his career, he often travelled abroad and also had longer project assignments. Antti’s favourite pastimes outside work include fishing and mushroom hunting as well as board games and video games. Music plays a big role in Antti’s life. He started playing the accordion when he was three years old, once played the drums in a band and now plays the guitar. Antti’s goal is to live a meaningful life and grow as a person along the way.
Key career lessons
1. Patience is a virtue.
2. Always be kind to your colleagues, even when things don’t go according to plan.
3. Maintain a healthy work–life balance.