With 19 000 colleagues, it’s quite rare to have a job that is clearly different from all the other roles. Still, Hertta Matikainen has it – travelling around, she hops on board vessels to train the personnel operating the ships.
Hertta joined Wärtsilä when the company acquired Eniram in 2016. Though Hertta had been enjoying Eniram’s culture, she warmly welcomed the structure offered by a bigger company. ”I liked the freedom of our start-up culture, but it also made things proceed less steadily. So, joining the Wärtsilä family was a very pleasant move for a process-oriented person like me; now, there is more framework and it’s clearer what we are about to do. I’m still proud that Eniram showed Wärtsilä our strengths as a start-up, and that there are multiple ways to reach the same result,” Hertta tells.
When joining Eniram in 2009, Hertta worked several years in software development. Partially since she wanted to work closer to people, Hertta, however, decided to move on in her career. A suitable moment came after Hertta was part of a team enhancing the software development process. “We created a chain of logistics where the software developers focused on the entity and not only their own piece of code. The coders were no longer just giving their input forward but the handovers improved when everyone knew exactly how to use the solutions received,” Hertta tells about the major improvement that equipped her to move on to new challenges.
However, after the development role, it was a big step for Hertta to become a trainer in 2017; being in the spotlight didn’t feel too natural for a calm person like her. “Of course, I knew our solutions inside-out since I had been developing them. I wasn’t uncertain about my know-how. I was more concerned about performing to a real audience among whom I had captains with 30 years of seafaring experience,” Hertta tells.
And even now, the audience can surprise Hertta with tough questions about seafaring. In these cases, Hertta turns to her colleagues and comes back with an answer later. As one can never anticipate these situations or know it all, Hertta has accepted that she might never get completely over the stage anxiety but it is bearable nowadays, after two years of practising.
Even though Hertta gets to be with customers, it’s a rather lonely job to travel from one location to another – especially since the main thing she enjoys at work are her colleagues. Luckily, the closest colleagues have remained the same throughout the years. “Having close colleagues makes me feel like I belong somewhere. The feeling is warm and it is easy to speak out loud if I have challenges or I need help,” she says and adds that it is also thanks to her role as a Shop Steward, why she has managed to get to know so many people.
In addition to these Shop Steward tasks, Hertta is part of Wärtsilä’s Sports Committee in Helsinki, and she is most likely to join whatever sport you suggest to her. But don’t let this warm and people-focused spirit fool you – Hertta is also rather competitive. “Whenever I ride a bike to the office, I end up speeding up so that no other cyclist could pass me,” she tells smiling.
While in the office, Hertta collaborates with other teams, such as Wärtsilä Land and Sea Academy, but at the customer, it’s just her and the vessel operators. “The training approach for these software solutions is highly customer-driven. For that reason, it is done alongside ship’s normal operations when there are passengers on board. It’s the best way to see how different operations influence the vessel and the data that our solutions measure,” Hertta begins.
”My job is somewhat two-folded. First, we look at all the solutions available on the screen and go through together how the operators can use them. The second part is about mindset training. Installing this software isn’t enough to improve efficiency of a vessel, but the efficiency and savings are achieved only when the operators act on the data. And sometimes acting on the data would require them to change their habits,” Hertta says.
Even if there is nowadays accurate data guiding towards more efficient performance, it’s not always self-evident that vessel operators trust the data right away. When there have been certain beliefs for years – such as, how they can save fuel – it might take a while to change that deep-rooted belief and behaviour.
Hertta has no fixed solution on how to handle this second part of the training; discussions with the seafarers go always case-by-case. And similarly the training set-ups vary; some customers organise major audience where all the management gets trained, whereas others want Hertta to train employees one-by-one.
“New mindsets and efficiency focus flow from the onshore organisation to the vessel employees. I can see that people, in general, are widening their perspective and on board employees take efficiency as a matter of heart; they want to know all aspects of operation that might influence the fuel consumption,” Hertta tells.
A trainer to remember
As mentioned, Hertta is supposed to conduct training while the customer’s vessel is moving. But sometimes things don’t go as planned.
Hertta acts as a “travel agency” for herself due to the nature of her work and she needs to independently discover all the needed travel documents. Consequently, her first time in Australia didn’t go as planned; without the needed marine visa, she couldn’t be on board while the ship was moving. This made it impossible to train the employees at sea. Luckily, Hertta came up with a solution; she started the training in Sydney, then flew to Tasmania, got on board and continued the training while the ship was in port. When the ship was again about to leave, Hertta flew to Melbourne to catch the ship personnel once more and finalise the training.
This might sound like a kangaroo job, Hertta loping around, but in the end, the customer was very pleased thanks to the flexibility and finesse of her actions. And even years after, the trainees have been asking whether the trainer is coming back anytime soon.
“I rarely get direct feedback. But after the training, I see my impact in a stronger customer relationship and trust as the people on board feel they’ve been heard and their feedback has been taken into account. The trust deepens when we follow up the customer and when the on board people realise they can turn to Wärtsilä’s support team with their questions,” she shares.
Though Hertta likes the training job a lot, she hopes to help and collaborate more with her colleagues in the upcoming years. Luckily, her role is already developing to that direction as Hertta gets to manage a wider entity – not only training but investigating the customer needs and planning a suitable solution based on them.
“Besides my personal career growth, I look forward to seeing more detailed plans how Wärtsilä’s digital transformation will be run through the organisation within the next years – I find it important in my work to have always latest knowledge about the big picture.”