When every day is a learning day
Wärtsilian Girish Kumar has spent 22 years in the company, 18 years of these working in Africa, where he has had the opportunity to enjoy different cultures, meet new people and take on interesting challenges. See why he considers Africa his second home.
Girish’s journey with Wärtsilä first started in 1997 when he joined the company in India. From there, his career took off and he soon got the opportunity to work in Wärtsilä Tanzania in 2001, Wärtsilä South Africa in 2012 and then with Wärtsilä East Africa in 2016. A long and varied journey that he says has been “filled with great experiences”.
“Within these 18 years in Africa, I have had the chance to learn about and understand various cultures, meet interesting people, and interact with different nationalities. The experience has been rich and now Africa is my second home,” declares Girish.
He currently works as the General Manager for Operations in the Services Unit South and East Africa where his job is primarily about maintaining a balance between customer, employee and the business. He admits the task can be challenging but credits Wärtsilä’s work environment with helping make it happen.
“The spirit of teamwork and collaboration within Wärtsilä is quite contagious, plus I can always count on being able to approach my superiors for support when I need help,” he says. “To add to this, I also rely on my personal philosophy ‘every day is a learning day’. This has helped me along tremendously in my career and when I face challenging days every now and then.”
An enabling environment
One of Girish’s biggest moments in Wärtsilä was when the Operations and Maintenance agreement was signed with Sasol New Energy Holdings, to cover the company’s gas engine power plant project in Sasolburg, South Africa. A project – attests Girish – that had its fair share of excitement.
“On 20 June 2012, while I was heading to the Tanzania office, I was told that the project’s contract manager had resigned and that I would get to take over. I was worried because I didn’t know if I’d be able to lead the work in a way that would meet the customer’s expectations,” he recalls. “But my superiors supported and encouraged me and eventually it turned into a very successful contract. This helped me and my team make a mark across Wärtsilä globally, and also added immense value to the organisation.”
While he has met many amazing colleagues and made many friends, there is one colleague that Girish considers as the most influential person in his career at Wärtsilä.
“Throughout my 17 years from Tanzania to Kenya, Jaakko Kaihua always stood by me, supporting and guiding me as a superior, as a colleague and as a friend. While Jaakko has recently retired, the friendship remains, and I recently visited him in his home country, Finland.”
Girish is now focused on ensuring that the knowledge he has gained in his time at Wärtsilä is effectively disseminated to his colleagues. He wants his entire team to be able to revel in Wärtsilä’s culture and leverage its strengths to get ahead. To do this, he ensures that he is always up to date on matters by taking different training courses, enabling him to explain various new concepts to his team.
Over the years, Girish has seen Wärtsilä grow rapidly and he believes, going by the company’s track record of innovation and leadership, that it will only become bigger. The company’s move towards digitalisation, in particular, he says, has made it a global leader in the energy sector – and also made it easier for employees to work more effectively thanks to new tools and solutions.
When he is not busy making sure Wärtsilä’s operations in Africa are running smoothly, Girish can be found taking part in community activities and enjoying the various elements that make Africa so very interesting.
As a dedicated family man, Girish also feels that his story isn’t complete if he doesn’t get to talk about the love of his live, Priya. The couple recently celebrated their 25th anniversary, and Girish is supremely proud and blessed for the family they’ve built together: they have a son, Akhil who is 22 and a daughter, Anagha, who is 18.
The authenticity and genuineness of spirit that Girish brings to both his personal life and work life is something that makes him a true hero to all who know him.