Enjoying the start-up atmosphere
Dennis Joseph Mathews, Country Contract Manager in Wärtsilä India, started his exciting career from the engine room. “After I graduated as a Mechanical Engineer, I spent my first seven years at sea as an Engineer on merchant vessels. This is where I first heard about Wärtsilä as the auxiliary engines on that ship were from Wärtsilä. When I decided to quit life at sea and take up a shore job, Wärtsilä felt like a natural option.”
Dennis started as a Power Plant Manager when he joined Wärtsilä in 2000 and the very next year he managed the sites in South-India. He started in his current position in 2011 and is responsible for the successful delivery of long-term service contracts. The role of a manager is crucial in ensuring the conditions for success. “My main role is to keep my team motivated so that they deliver an excellent experience for the customer.”
Dennis has experienced many unforgettable days in Wärtsilä during his 19 years but mentions that the most memorable, and best ones, are the days when contracts are renewed. “Renewing contracts is sort of validation of the good work that we did for customers during the previous period, and how they saw value in what we were doing.”
Dennis credits his long tenure at Wärtsilä to the freedom he gets at work to do what’s needed. “The opportunity to do what is right for our company and for the customer is something that I truly cherish. I value working with a values-based company which also makes my decision-making simple,” he says with pride.
However, it is not always flowers and rainbows. When a customer has questions or concerns, Dennis must know how to address their needs. “In one particular case of a concerned customer, we arranged meetings between the customer and our team at the power plant very frequently. At the same time, we ensured we had the right Wärtsilians working on the case and kept the motivation of the team high. With these actions, we were able to win back the customer's confidence and agreed on the contract renewal. What I have learned from this case is that in difficult times, being close to the customer and focusing our full attention on solving the customer's problems help to make a happier and more satisfied customer,” he recalls.
During the past decade, Dennis feels the company has had its ups and downs, and his work has been a crucial turning point. “When business was going down for us in our conventional engine business and service agreements within it, Wärtsilä India ventured into servicing other technologies, like Thermal Power Plants. My greatest contribution was building a team that could meet this challenge head-on and creating a shared vision in making this business a success. The processes and systems from our Operations and Maintenance contracts for our existing engine business were customised for the Thermal Power Plant business.”
Not one to take credit for himself, Dennis is really proud of the whole team. “My team is very good. They are all very different and each of my team members has unique strengths. I am a strong believer in utilising the individuals’ strengths to deliver on our commitments to the customers.”
According to Dennis, Wärtsilä has been able to stay ahead of the times by not following the tried and tested path, but by keeping its innovative approach – by doing business in a way which adds value to the customer. In the near future, as the company gets deeper into the renewable energy business, Dennis feels it will require a lot of unlearning and relearning.
“Our solutions and services will be greatly quite different from what they have been so far. We need to be very innovative in getting the solutions which will support 100% renewable energy, that are beneficial to the customer, and are sound business propositions for Wärtsilä. With nearly 20 years of experience, I am confident of contributing to this endeavor.”