"We have transformed ourselves from engine-makers into complex problem-solvers."
If the year 2016 could be described with one word, I guess “fickle” would be it. Nothing seemed to come out the way we anticipated. The polls got it wrong with both Brexit and the US election. Looking ahead in our business proved to be just as difficult. In the beginning of the year, the sentiment, backed up by several market research studies, was that world trade was picking up and that more vessels would be needed to carry goods and raw materials. Now we know that the market took a sudden turn – there was hardly any activity in the merchant segment.
Perhaps 2016 goes to show that predicting the future has permanently become a whole lot more difficult. So, rather than speculating about “why” or making predictions that may not hold, I want to focus on the big picture and to pinpoint Wärtsilä’s position in it. Our most important role is to be there for our customers at any time, to help them tackle the rapid changes in the world.
In a world taken by surprise by sudden jolts, we need to emphasise three things in our organisation. The first two are agility and speed, which is why we have honed our internal processes to make decision-making more swift. The third element is openness. Both towards the external world – finding partners who can help us solve our customers’ challenges – but also internally. Working cross-divisionally is very important in finding solutions to new types of problems.
A couple of months ago, I had the pleasure of hosting a special event, as a group of retired Wärtsilä employees visited our headquarters in Helsinki. They were baffled already in the reception area, where we demonstrate some of our most advanced solutions. In a very short time, we have made giant leaps when it comes to updating our offering – the lion’s share of them digital. The only engine we display at the reception area is in the form of a hologram. We have transformed ourselves from engine-makers into complex problem-solvers. If you look at the energy equation today, our role is no longer limited to energy production. It’s our energy management services, managing the complete energy mix on a system level – with solar and other renewable resources – that make the difference.
To excel in this complex field, we need the best minds. We have always taken an active part in supporting education and universities across the globe. This year, as Finland turns 100 years old, we have taken a special interest in lending helping hands to Finnish universities. The quality of education is the foundation for innovation in the future.
Wärtsilä is celebrating its 184th year as a company, and we have been there during every crucial moment in Finland’s history. Adapting to the world around us has always been at the core of everything we do. So, whatever 2017 has in store for all of us, we are poised to take it on as a positive challenge.
Jaakko Eskola, President and CEO of Wärtsilä Corporation