Saving energy with customers
For global organisations like Wärtsilä, making sure things get done and delivered as agreed is often as important as chasing the next big deal. And for that to happen, you need everyday heroes who can make sure that day-to-day activities carry on smoothly. One of these Wärtsilians is Venla Pouru.
As Key Account Manager at Wärtsilä Voyage Solutions’ Eniram Business Line, Venla Pouru has witnessed first-hand the transition that is underway in the maritime industry.
“Digitalisation is driving change in every sphere of human industry, especially the marine sector,” she says. “I can see how our customers, who span the breadth of the sector, are taking steps to incorporate digitalisation into the core of their businesses.”
Venla is thrilled to see Wärtsilä’s digital solutions in action and hearing direct feedback from the customers. “One ship captain said to me ‘I love this tool’ after they had been using our solutions for a while,” says Venla excitedly. “It is rewarding to get this kind of feedback from onboard and shoreside users. Their first-hand comments point out clearly how our data and insights help them do their jobs more efficiently.”
It is this customer feedback and delight that helps Venla enjoy her work; she finds it meaningful as the customers save energy – and the world. And these customer reactions are all the more important when you take into account the fact that the maritime industry has perhaps traditionally been slow in taking up new technologies. However, Venla says that the renewed regulatory environment has helped various vessel operators and owners see the value of using digital tools to increase efficiencies, reduce emissions, monitor compliance and boost profitability.
All about customer value
Venla currently works as part of Voyage Solutions’ key account team for one of Wärtsilä’s cruise customers. Her role includes a variety of tasks meaning business and solution development, account management and training. Considering that her team has the entire profit and loss responsibility and decision authority over the account, the sense of ownership and responsibility is high.
“I enjoy the autonomy and individual accountability we see in our working environment,” says Venla. “Everyone can take responsibility for customer problems, going beyond titles and ranks. The confidence this gives us positively affects our professional development.”
This has, adds Venla, helped the key account team to build a task force of capable business analysts, software developers and customer support engineers, all organised to serve this specific customer.
“With this team, we can add continuous value for the customer in terms of fuel savings and operational efficiency,” she says. “I feel privileged to be a part of this team and have learnt a lot from my expert colleagues.”
Connecting with the customer
The ability to empathise and connect with the customer is also par for the course for professionals like Venla and her team in order to truly understand the challenges that the customer’s business faces and develop solutions to meet them. Needless to say, this approach goes a long way.
“I am quite relentless when it comes to putting the customer first and trying to solve their problems. I feel that the skills I learned in the consulting business earlier in my career – meaning customer development, program management and structuring built-in professional services – have also turned out to be crucial in the marine business,” says Venla. “I’ve also put a lot of effort into immersing myself into our technology to a level where I am able to discuss it expertly with customers and help build value propositions.”
There is one particular incident, where Venla learned a lot from co-creation. “It was a process where we took an idea from a PowerPoint presentation to a proof of concept with real customer data. Co-creating this ‘voyage energy planning’ tool through numerous iterations, customer interviews and validations has been a tremendous learning experience.”
“There was also a customer with whom we spent a lot of time getting to know each other,” she adds. “Together, we troubleshot various problems, found ways to do things better, and eventually increased customer satisfaction and engagement. Thanks to this and our digital solutions, the customer now recognises Wärtsilä as a co-development partner and no longer just an equipment provider.”
Venla also admits that working for a global marine systems integrator like Wärtsilä helps encourage customers to more confidently pursue their digital journey. A trend that has been helped by the spate of acquisitions that Wärtsilä has made, including Eniram.
“After the acquisition, Eniram has been integrated into Wärtsilä,” she explains. “And since then, the acquisitions have continued, which has been one of our growth drivers. Through synergies and joint offerings as ‘One Wärtsilä’, we can deliver more comprehensive solutions to our customers,” adds Venla. She is particularly pleased about how the strategic direction within Voyage Solutions has evolved. “We have the opportunity to create a competitive voyage optimisation offering that builds on our capabilities in navigation, automation, energy optimisation and safety.”
Innovation drives Wärtsilä’s future
The acquisitions have also helped add new capabilities, personnel and solutions to the Wärtsilä fold, says Venla, which in turn has spurred innovation, collaboration and co-creation.
“We are a large company with a long history, but I am happy to see agility across the Wärtsilä teams,” she says. “We have been bold and are always ready to go the extra mile in developing new innovations alongside our customers. We have Wärtsilians working with innovators within our customer organisations to develop new concepts. Solutions like an evidence-based bridge, engine anomaly detection and itinerary efficiency optimisation are some innovations that have been produced so far.”
Over the next few years, Venla sees Wärtsilä continuing to evolve in creating integrated offerings from its solutions portfolio. Even if her learning curve has already been steep, Venla sees herself growing alongside the company, playing a key role in building new solutions and radically new business models where the business benefits are shared with the customers.
During her time off work, she enjoys travelling and has recently spent time exploring canyons in Lapland and glaciers in Iceland. Venla also enjoys putting her organisational skills to use with friends by organising theme parties, summer festivals and escape room games of her own design.