Inside the mind of a thrill-seeking innovator
Service Designer Heidi Tulensalo has only been with Wärtsilä for less than a year, but in that time, she has witnessed the company’s rapid evolution and transformation, as it works towards enabling sustainable societies. Find out why she considers her time here the most thrilling ever.
Heidi Tulensalo is an adventure seeker. Whether it is hiking along the Alps, going scuba diving off the coasts of Brazil, or even making unplanned boat trips in Montenegro, she loves taking things to the extreme and exploring the unknown. When she joined Wärtsilä as a Service Designer 10 months ago, people wondered how this adrenaline junkie would find the experience. Fast forward to today and the answer is “a whole lot of fun” in her own words.
“It’s been a bit like a rollercoaster. In my first week, I got to attend a workshop in Hamburg as a co-facilitator. I still recall thinking how it was seriously a cool way to start of my career here,” says Heidi. “I only had a brief idea of the topic, but that didn’t hinder me from feeling like part of the crew. This event taught me more about our business than I’d have anticipated to learn in such a short period of time.”
As a service designer, Heidi’s job is to foster the co-creation of new concepts, whether it is to build products and services or to shape processes and new ways of working. On a typical project, she could be out observing how the crew of a cruise ship works, facilitating an ideation workshop or sparring with her colleagues on how to better utilise design thinking in their day-to-day tasks, and thus by extension, the solutions they are offering to customers.
An always-on approach
Learning together is important, says Heidi, as her work is all about constant iteration. She tries to promote and role-model the idea of ‘development’ as more of a mindset, a trait that allows her to continuously seek out and identify ways to improve everything. A trait that makes her a real innovator.
“I still recall an early Smart Technology Hub workshop in Vaasa, where we wanted to start the planning for the upcoming Partner Campus. Over 40 companies came together, to think of ideas for how to kickstart the collaboration,” she says.
“It was quite cool to see the change in the atmosphere when the other company representatives realised that we at Wärtsilä didn’t have a ready-made model for partnering in the Smart Technology Hub and that we would rather work that out together. I hope we see more such events because those will shape how collaboration will be done across industries,” she adds.
This kind of co-creation is also something that she says, defines her work at Wärtsilä.
“I got laughed at once when I said I really loved working with the people here. The question that quickly followed was how would I then be able to work for anyone else?” Heidi recalls. “The way I see it, I am more of a working ‘with’ people than a working ‘for’ people. That’s something I enjoy at Wärtsilä, the fact that I am surrounded by smart, enthusiastic people with whom I can team up to solve real-world challenges, together,” she tells.
“I love facilitating workshops where there are a lot of people that I need to get to work together, preferably in a way that is engaging, efficient and fun for all. I love learning from my peers and working at our Helsinki Campus working café where I can encounter people I’d normally not meet. And yes, I secretly do love travelling to Vaasa and have a chance to exchange ideas with colleagues there – even if the train ride takes ages!”
Working for a sustainable future
Heidi is glad that her fellow Wärtsilians care about the world as much as she does. To illustrate this, she recalls an incident from the start of her career when she noticed a call being put out for volunteers to help clean up the sea next to Wärtsilä’s old office in Hakaniemi, Helsinki. Being a newbie, Heidi was reluctant to sign up as a diver but still decided to drop by to encourage the other volunteers and help in whatever way she could.
“The first person I ended up talking with was Eero Judin, our Business Engagement Manager, who was a bit terrified by the idea of going to the sea after taking a long break since his last dive. He asked me for help with setting up his gear. As a rather green diver, I took it as a huge way of showing trust and openness towards a complete stranger,” Heidi recalls.
She ended up bonding with the people there and stayed for hours to help get the trash from the sea to the shore. And the event continues to remain in Heidi’s mind.
“Two things struck me the most during the clean-up event. One, the people here are genuinely putting themselves out there in order to strive for a more sustainable future, and two, these are definitely the kind of people I want to work with. So, I do thank Eero for showing me what it means to be a Wärtsilian,” she adds. After having gathered up her nerve for a year, Heidi is now planning to participate in this year’s Project Aware event in September, and this time as a diver.
In the relatively short time, she has spent at Wärtsilä, Heidi has seen the company continue on its transformation from being technology, solution and service provider, to working on building an ecosystem that will help bring future innovations to market, through collaboration and co-creation. A process that she says will only continue and strengthen in the years ahead.
“For me, the target for the next five years is clear. We are heading towards more sustainable societies and we are inspiring and – whenever needed – dragging others with us,” she says, smiling. “Whatever it ends up being, I hope it can be demonstrated at many levels – in local projects as well as in big global initiatives, with tangible outcomes that will create a better tomorrow.”