From a childhood dream to designing the marine future
Alexandr Ovcharenko is living his dream job, “I have always dreamt about combining my two passions — ships and design. As a kid, I used to watch the sea and searched for information about ships and marine life. Now, I work with digital interfaces of on-board and shore software for ships, operational centres, and vessel traffic centres. Living the dream is not always easy, but makes workdays fascinating and changing.”
Originally, Alexandr comes from Transas which was acquired by Wärtsilä in May 2018. Currently, he is leading the User Experience team and sees a drastic change in the number of opportunities that the integration to Wärtsilä family has brought.
“Transas has been doing transport safety systems whereas Wärtsilä’s focus on equipment has been wider. The focus and combination of safety and digital systems allows Wärtsilä to create a unique scale of solutions. These new solutions are needed for more efficient communication in the smart marine ecosystem where we need to have systematic and frequent connections. Already now, we have improved this connectivity a lot,” Alexandr describes the benefits of the merge.
“In addition, Wärtsilä is of course a more international company which has made me feel as if I was part of a huge global family now. Cross-cultural communication and global thinking are some of the things I like in here,” he continues.
What makes a memorable workday
One of Aleksandr’s work days really hit hard to his subconscious making him realise he really was in the right business. This happened when he made a first visit of passenger ferry in Sweden to make a research of equipment he started to work with.
“There is a term ‘onboarding’ among UX designers, that means making end-users familiar with the solutions. It’s always great to see own work in real-life use and interesting to see how the personnel works with the designed tools. In Sweden, it was fascinating how the users observed and operated the systems as the ship started moving. For me, this was memorable especially because the ship was quite huge,“ he shares his feeling and continues, “Every visit with the real users is a memorable moment, as in these sessions there are no gaps between the users and the developer. I enjoy contacting the end-users to hear how everything works in real life and to see if there are any ways for me to help them. These discussions are always important as we can make their life easier and safer with our solutions.”
In Wärtsilä, Alexandr really appreciates the global atmosphere and the opportunity to cooperate with various kind of people from different backgrounds and positions. “You can freely express your ideas or concerns and people will listen what you say. Everyone is on the same level and there are no strict hierarchies that you should follow – open discussions are considered more important. I personally love the complexity of the discussions, how we find solutions and how we can even change the course of the industry during these conversations with my colleagues.”
Alexandr enjoys working with Wärtsilä, as his work is to make the maritime industry safer and more effective, “My greatest contribution is paying attention to the fact that safety should be a constant criterion of all our solutions.” He has, for instance, been in the team improving the safety of ship’s route planning and making the planning process faster for the operators.
Towards safer future
Alexandr feels his time with the company has yet been short and is sure that the future will be even more interesting. “Our work is complex and at the same time we aim to create something very simple as a result. Still, we designers shouldn’t oversimplify things since then the outcome might not be safe anymore. One of my main principles is to use solid combination of design and engineering to ensure safety of our solutions. Of course, I want to make things easy to use, comfortable and visually beautiful, but the most important goal is that the solutions enable safe operations, help avoid human errors. Think for example how the modern touchscreens in cars actually take your eyes off the road. That’s not a good development trend,” Alexandr shares passionately.
And what makes him happy is that Wärtsilä seems to be on-top of safety – and also multiple other marine topics. “Wärtsilä is – and will be – a visionary company that will change the industry, but it needs to keep dynamic and continue responsible, systematic thinking.”
The future is built in the daily discussions where passionate people share knowledge. Team work is important for Alexandr’s routines, and he also gets to work a lot with other teams, such as experts and analysts. “We try to boost internal learning by having seminars and changing pieces of information such as articles, books or seminar tips. Interaction between passionate people is amazingly inspirational and it is great to see the expertise of the people who work here.“
For Alexandr it is this information and knowledge sharing, as well as complex discussions that mean everything. “At work, I’ve met a lot of experienced mariners who have been working in the seas and can, therefore, contribute with their concrete examples and passion when we co-design solutions together.”
The passion towards the sea continues during Alexandr’s free-time. ”Last year, I got the licence to handle a sailboat and now I spend nearly all my free time sailing my old Swedish sailboat between Helsinki and Turku. Besides career in marine business, my other childhood dream was to own a sailboat and now, I’ve achieved also that. I guess my passion towards the seas appears in various forms,” Alexandr ponders.
The sailing courses happened to be pretty interesting as there were people who knew a lot about Transas and Wärtsilä. “We were actually able to discuss the differences between huge vessels and sailboats. I loved to hear stories from these old marines: examples, tips and knowledge that could be adapted from smaller boats to bigger vessels, “ Aleksandr tells wistfully.