Calling for fresh ideas and bold thoughts
Anna Schoultz, General Manager of Global Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) Architecture and Platform, tells that joining the Information Management organisation in Wärtsilä was more of a coincidence than a planned career step. After working in several business functions within the company, Anna had gained experience on various tasks: services sales in the Nordic marine business, spare part trading in Sales Support team, working with Wärtsilä’s vendor network and the major program where Wärtsilä’s spare part business got centralised into one global distribution centre.
“After the implementation of this Central Distribution Centre, I continued with development related work, developing the processes within our services offering development and launch process. This work included some SAP related projects, and consequently, I slipped into the world of information technology and all the way to Wärtsilä’s Information Management (IM) organisation,” Anna describes this ‘career slip’ of hers. “Since Wärtsilä Global Logistics Services, my work has been about projects, process development, strategy definition and implementation. Currently, I'm leading a team of senior experts with the focus on digitising our core business processes, such as our core ERP system, WE SAP,” Anna tells.
Even if now working in IM, Anna feels that the previous spare part program was one of the major steps in her career, teaching her a great deal. “Moving spare part inventories from several sites to a new Central Distribution Centre in the Netherlands, naturally changed a lot how we work and were organised. Professionally, I learned a lot from this big change program.” Still, the most influential part for Anna was seeing how the people were affected by the change and to see the passion her colleagues worked with. “The major thing I took with me is that one needs to remember how differently people react to change. We are motivated by different things and one needs to consider the variety of personalities to motivate the change and communicate about the project,” Anna adds.
Throughout her roles at Wärtsilä, Anna feels that each team has had one factor in common; the workdays have never been alike. “For me, there has been many opportunities to learn, grow and take on new challenges. I keep this in mind also when our team hires new people outside Wärtsilä; I’m choosing a person to his or her first job at Wärtsilä, not only a person that fits solely to the job in question, but a person who is right for the company as well – a person who takes advantage of the opportunities,” Anna tells.
At least Anna feels strongly that working in different parts of the organisation has had a major impact on her career. “Working in IM, it's very useful to have a solid understanding of our business processes. This has helped me to solve several challenges at work faster. Having knowledge on customer and supplier frontlines also helps me to keep the business essence in mind when we are planning for the future of information technology.”
Besides these learnings at work, Anna’s personality and characteristics support her in her current role. “I want to believe I have good situational awareness and that I'm good at identifying what's important – meaning the correct things to focus on to make a difference. It might boil down to listening skills and ability to pick up from there,” Anna describes. Combining these personal attributes with Anna’s interest in strategy work has helped her to determine what are the top-priority initiatives needed to reach targets.
Crazy ideas are allowed
In Anna’s eyes, innovation has made Wärtsilä strive for 185 years. “We’ve had a lot of brilliant innovators and when reading about the company’s history, one can find quite many people who have thought bold. At Wärtsilä, there is always room to think big and crazy ideas are allowed,” Anna says with enthusiasm. Now, as the world needs to tackle climate change, Anna feels that the innovators at Wärtsilä are needed even more. “We at Wärtsilä can help with the existing and new solutions that we provide.”
So, crazy ideas and thinking big is still needed in the future and Anna says that utilising existing information and data will trigger new innovations: “I think we will become more integrated and will make use of existing information to build smart supply networks. Wärtsilä is already now delivering solutions where renewable energy has a major role and we’re seeing information becoming the insight that drives our daily operations. Personally, within the next few years, I hope to learn more about digital solutions and to see our teams implementing artificial intelligence into the business processes”.
Sometimes more than crazy ideas, you just need passion to make things right. One time, there was a vessel in the Åland Islands desperately needing spare parts to pass an inspection. Anna had only few options to get the parts in time, and she needed to show some spectacular commitment to make it happen. “The last long-distance bus from Vaasa to Turku had just left but I managed to get the number of the driver,” Anna begins the story. As also the driver wanted to stick to his schedule, he promised to stop at a bus station close to Wärtsilä’s office only if Anna was there waiting with the spare part parcel. “That day I happened to co-ride, so I needed to borrow my friend’s car. I grabbed the parcel and called my friend to get the car keys. Even if the entire parcel delivery happened very quickly, seeing the car keys flying at me in the air felt like a slow-motion movie. I drove to the bus stop just in time and my colleague in Turku took care of the rest; the parts got delivered in time to the vessel,” Anna describes the situation with a smile on her face.
Regardless of this ‘superhero story’, Anna wants to remind that business is just business. “In the end of the day, we’re all just people and it’s good not to take things too seriously and let potential negativity pass. I have a toddler at home, full of life, which helps me to loosen up and gives me energy to the office.”