Your transformation companions are here for you
Together we’re stronger and achieve even more impressive results. And as the 185X campaign is winding down, we wanted to finish off the anniversary year by showcasing some of our awesome teams. This story is about one of them.
Wärtsilian Domenico Dargenio joined the global Digital Transformation (DTX) team 18 months ago as he felt there were a lot of development opportunities related to digital transformation at Wärtsilä and he also wanted to learn more about the different elements of transformation possible. “I felt many colleagues were in the same situation, thinking how this transformation will influence their work or team. So, I felt compelled to jumping right into the deep end, an experience which has been at the same time scary, exciting, rewarding and especially meaningful: you don’t get often the chance to help 19 000 people to make sense of a big transformation that is impacting everyone!”
In DTX team, Domenico has eight team mates – Claudio Ballaben and Erika Suerz in Trieste, Jim German in Fort Lauderdale, Jeanne Ye in Shanghai and in Helsinki: Anna-Maria Rönnqvist, Mikko Seppänen, Esteban Solis as well as Josefina Kujanpää. And so far, their journey has taught a lot; how to work better as a team so that everyone can play their strengths – and even more importantly, how to ensure the team is feeling positively excited about their work.
“I’ve aimed to create that feeling of psychological safety so that everyone dares to speak their mind openly and is hence able to be the best versions of themselves,” Domenico describes one of his key responsibilities as a team leader.
And when listening to the other team members, safety seems to be deeply rooted in the team spirit. It comes evident in multiple ways, such as how often the members refer to a family when talking about their team. “Our working environment is very open and transparent. We support each other and work like a family – even if we come from different backgrounds,” Jeanne describes. Esteban feels the same and continues: “I feel that this team is very different from all the teams I’ve worked in before; if I fall down, I have the entire family picking me up. And I’m having fun while doing my job, I love coming here in the mornings and meeting these fellows.”
Another proof point on the family-like atmosphere could be named as Päivi Korpi-Halkola – a former team member who still joins the weekly DTX team meetings whenever possible: “After all, I was one of the founding members in this team, so I love to stay up-to-date what’s going on,” Päivi tells. As Päivi’s new role is to develop Wärtsilä’s Smart Technology Hub, there is actually a lot of learnings she can take from this team to her new job.
Like any family, also this one ends up having heated discussions every now and then. As the team’s goal is so close to their hearts, there are sometimes alternative viewpoints on how to get there. “Our team is very united to help fellow Wärtsilians to learn about our smart technology culture. This goal holds us together even when our opinions differ,” Domenico tells stating that it is always better to address any issue than ‘let it be’.
Some of these heated discussions took place when Erika and Anna-Maria started to work together for the first time. “I remember the look on Domenico’s face when we were arguing quite a lot – he was probably worried that will we ever be able to work together,” Anna-Maria recalls with a smile. However, now the two women have moved way pass those times. “We were never arguing as people, we were always aiming at the same goal but had different opinions. Now, we’re like sisters; having virtual coffee together almost daily, even if we’ve met only twice in person,” Erika adds.
Diversity as a strength
Coming from different backgrounds, the DTX team sees their diversity as the team’s biggest strength. Still, they all share the same passion towards change and are all curious to explore the ‘uncharted’ territories.
Take for example Erika, who has been developing the change leadership skills in Wärtsilä for years already. “I’m a total changer myself, and the red thread of transformation was the inspiration for me to join this team,” she tells. The permission to transform the company did the trick also for Jim: “Previously, I’d been working on the support side of change. But with this team, I finally saw an opportunity to influence the change of Wärtsilä,” Jim describes.
In addition to the transformation related work, Mikko felt attracted to join the team due to the positive spirit he sensed already in the job interview: “As a tech enthusiast, I saw joining this team as an opportunity to have responsibility while working on new technology. In addition, it was a major deal how Domenico made me feel during the job interview: I felt that I’m really welcome and wanted in this team.”
Jim and Päivi get excited and want to continue on the strength topic: “One of our strengths is that there is zero ego in the team. When the focus is always on the problem instead of people or egos, we move things forward smoother and fluently,” Jim states. While nodding, Päivi emphasises that there is definitely no politics in the team. Rather, the team is always there for you; all issues are joint ones – there is no ‘my task’ or ‘your task’ – but support is always available for the one in need.
The support has been especially meaningful for Josefina, who is still finalising her studies but joined Wärtsilä to work on this compelling transformation topic at the same time: “Of course, it took a while to get the full picture – what is transformation in Wärtsilä – but this team helped me to get on-board right from the start. Our team dynamics is amazing and working with transformation makes my business studies even more interesting, as I can reflect them back to Wärtsilä and real-life cases.”
Future Wärtsilä citizens
According to Domenico, the DTX team exists simply to help Wärtsilä stay relevant. “When you work with change, your goal is to make yourself dispensable. And once you succeed, it means there is no need for you to support the transformation. But then there is a need for new transformation – since we do live in continuous transformation,” Erika elaborates and lets Esteban continue: “In connection to what Erika said, we’re not making people stay relevant, but we’re supporting and giving them the tools to stay relevant – also after this team no longer exists.”
As the team’s work has been described as quality-oriented, professional, welcoming and fast-paced, Anna-Maria feels the DTX team has an opportunity to be successful with their goal. “I’ve seen transformations fail and succeed, and I think our work here – in terms of skilling, upskilling, breaking potential silos and working together – is quite remarkable. I know succeeding will require hard work from us – but at least it is possible,” she says cheerfully.
To make the transformation happen, the team itself is a micro-learning organisation where all the testing, sharing, failing and learning happen in the first place. When the DTX team mates are the first to walk the steps of a smart technology culture, the team grows stronger together. “We are pioneers in what we do – in the culture, with the mindset and how to collaborate with people,” Claudio tells adding that it is really empowering to be allowed to learn in an environment where colleagues don’t shut you off immediately. Rather, in case the team fails in anything, they take a retrospective approach and learn from these occasions in a structured way. “An example of us walking the talk at the forefront is that I need to become the leader I preach about. I try to make as little decisions as possible since I want to ensure my team is empowered to their fullest potential,” Domenico adds.
While leading by example, the team has sometimes been referred as trouble-makers – luckily, in a positive sense. But that can be expected when you are challenging norms. However, as Domenico emphasises, the team doesn’t want to distract fellow Wärtsilians from delivering results – but offer alternative ways to deliver those results. And when it comes to improvement, the team has multiple examples where small changes have made an impact which is a big motivator for everyone in the team. Like Esteban says, he couldn’t even work in the team if they were always just to discuss what they are going to do. “We have a very structured way of accomplishing what has been agreed. And I feel we’re valued for what we do in the company,” he says.
“With a team that has this high courage and trust, you are always ready to hold your team mates’ hands and jump together – to any new task,” Anna-Maria says. So, what is it that DTX team sees in their near future? According to Domenico, launching Wärtsilä’s smart technology culture earlier in 2019 was a milestone that is now the backbone for everything the team plans and does. As there is still a lot to be done together for Wärtsilä to embrace and sustain the mindset, the main goal for the team’s future years is to continue role modelling the culture for colleagues. As Jim puts it: “I’d like to think we’re modelling the future Wärtsilä citizen, when there is no ego, you share everything except passwords, step outside of your silo, collectively learn from the failures and copy with pride everything that works.”
And that sounds like a mindset we should all copycat, we’re allowed and encouraged to do so.