Better results with openness
In the 1990s, Kim Björknäs spent several summers as a summer worker in Wärtsilä’s Vaasa spare parts warehouse picking parts and conducting other warehouse support tasks. In 2006, he got his first fixed contract as a Process Developer and a few years after that, he moved to Kampen in the Netherlands to work in Wärtsilä’s Central Distribution Centre (CDC). Since the start of his career, Kim has worked in several different positions related to the spare part distribution. One year ago, he started his current position as a General Manager leading Parts Delivery, the organisation responsible for the warehouses and global transportation within Wärtsilä’s Global Logistics Solutions.
“My journey within Wärtsilä has been amazing and I think it shows how this company allows its personnel to grow. I can truly claim to have grown up in this company and I have been given so many opportunities to develop myself. There have of course been both successes and mistakes, but I have been given the opportunity to learn and all the new challenges keep me growing as an employee, but even more as a person,” says Kim as he summarises his thoughts about his Wärtsilä career.
There have been many memorable days during his career, but one stands out more than others. “My first meeting as a team leader was an eye-opening experience that later influenced my way of working significantly. I had just become the manager of the Logistics Development team in the Vaasa factory, previously being a team member myself. During our first team meeting, the fact that I was actually leading the meeting hit me, and the others listened when I talked. I have always been quite talkative but since this meeting, it was different. I wasn't just one of the team members giving input anymore, but also responsible for the decisions made. Above all, I was responsible for the team. This team trusted me to have their back, to do everything I could to support them and ensure their development. Now, I was also working for somebody else when earlier I was just doing the work for myself, ” says Kim as he describes how the new role changed his work approach for good.
While talking with Kim, it can easily be seen that he is committed, supportive and open, and those characteristics definitely help when being a team leader. When talking about commitment, Kim adds, “I work extra when it is needed and I think that is something that others appreciate too. I like to be open and share my knowledge with others. I think that the more open we can be with each other, the more input is given and therefore the output will also be better. “
From a proactive summer trainee to a coordinated leader
Sometimes small changes and steps might have a surprisingly big impact on these outputs. Kim noticed this already while still working as a summer trainee. “I remember years back in Vaasa warehouse we had an issue with finding the right materials for a surveyor who came to do the classification of spare parts. The details were printed on picking lists with so small text that it was difficult to see from a distance. I got the idea to make a proper pallet label and with a specific colour for each classification society. This made it a lot easier to find the right pallets. This was one of the first developments I remember making at Wärtsilä. It took only an afternoon but still made an impact. Especially when considering that similar labels are still used in CDC Kampen,” Kim tells about the first process developments he made.
The times seem to have changed quite a lot at Wärtsilä when Kim thinks back to the old summer worker days. According to him, the way of working is much more structured and controlled now. “Back then we were a small group of summer workers who worked like crazy to get the customer deliveries out. Nowadays we have great processes and even though there is still the recognizable afternoon buzz to get deliveries out, the process is much more in control when compared to earlier,” he says.
The change has been very positive and will continue in the future towards even more coordinated actions. He feels that utilising existing logistics footprint to build new solutions and increased usage of data will be seen more in the future. “There is a need to utilise data more and we’re constantly finding ways to better align the knowledge and data internally in order to anticipate and meet customer needs more precisely,” Kim tells about development directions needed.
Kim is a person who loves working with a great team. As a talkative personality, he believes that humor is a great supportive power for the team. “ Interaction with colleagues is a key to keep the energy levels up. The Parts Delivery as well as the bigger Global Logistics Solutions teams are a great group of colleagues who are open and great fun to work with. Together we have come a long way to reach our current level of customer service and even more importantly, everyone is on-board to continue developing our services.”