It’s long hours and dedication. It’s excitement and innovation. It’s Growth Lab. As the latest run of Growth Lab reached its end in October, the Class of 2019 share their thoughts on their journey.
“It really was a day to remember. I had just landed in my hometown after a vacation in Europe and received the acceptance email for Growth Lab 2019. I literally shouted out of joy”, one of the participants, Surendranath K., Account Manager, Energy, reminisces on hearing about his acceptance for Growth Lab.
“I was beyond ecstatic to be accepted. I always like to say that life is about collecting memories, meeting people, and building relationships. During Growth Lab, I have collected so many beautiful memories and built good relationships with my fellow teammates.”
Other “Growth Labbers” agree with Surendranath’s thoughts, but what exactly is this Growth Lab?
Described by Wärtsilä’s CEO & President Jaakko Eskola as the leadership development programme for high-performing individuals with the potential of becoming the next CEO, Growth Lab brings together people from all around Wärtsilä to work together in cross-business teams. The goal of Growth Lab is to foster the leadership skills of tomorrow, while encouraging out-of-the-box thinking.
“All in all, I think I would call it an accelerated learning experience. We’ve been encouraged to dream big things, even crazy things, and we have had the chance to ask hard questions. It is amazing that we are encouraged to do this”, says Jaime López, General Manager, Operations & Digital Accelerations, Marine Power.
"There has definitely been a different freedom to dream and innovate. We have been on the lookout for new ideas from start to finish", Eirik Berg, Sales Manager, Agreements, likewise from Marine Power, adds. “There is a real possibility
to influence and that is really inspiring.”
The latest round of Growth Lab was the fourth one in the history of the programme, with altogether 15 persons completing the journey. The Growth Labbers were split into three diverse groups that got to work on innovative strategic projects, topics of which they were able to choose themselves.
“I think that is the difference of these Growth Lab projects compared to our regular projects”, Heli Vesterinen, Global Mobility Lead, HR, explains. “You start the work from scratch with colleagues you have not interacted before and the first thing to do is to choose a topic with relevant business value. You are all driven by the same goal of personal development and Wärtsilä’s growth, but at the same time you are just getting to know each other.”
Thomas Brightwell, SACA Software Manager from Voyage, agrees on Heli’s sentiment, saying that it might be difficult to agree on a topic that is not close to one’s personal line of business, but acknowledges that being open to new ideas and possibilities is a way to learn. “For me, the opportunity to see what is happening on the other side was one of the greatest motivators for applying. I have always been interested in seeing the big picture, and Growth Lab offers the possibility to do just that.”
“I agree with Thomas. The programme is like a helicopter that takes you all the way to the top of the company, and lets you see the whole thing. From up there, you can pinpoint the areas where you see an opportunity and what you would like to
develop further”, Mika Koivisto, General Manager, Services Sales Support, Energy, adds. “You get to work on ideas and projects that could potentially change the path Wärtsilä is on, and that is really inspiring.”
In addition to everything else, Jaime appreciates the possibility to work in diverse teams, saying that one of the many beauties of Growth Lab is the chance to meet people from different positions and locations.
“You meet people you have not met before, people who are not the household names. You get to work with a diverse group of people and make valuable cross-company connections. Those connections will help in employing the full potential of the company, which will then help in making Wärtsilä a better company”, López explains.
Surendranath agrees with López and says that working in such a diverse team has been one of the most educating things during Growth Lab. “Our team worked with Wärtsilä’s internal ways of working and surely benefitted from
being so diverse. We had people from different countries and different cultures with a varied pool of working backgrounds. All of us had different approaches to questions and problems, and I learned new methods that I will most certainly employ
from now on in my regular work.”
Although the programme might be challenging and at times time-consuming, there seems to be no doubt about the value of the programme for the participants. As Koivisto explains, Growth Lab is as much a learning experience as it is an additional push for self-improvement. “The programme really is a motivator: the more you give, the more you get. And I guess that those are who the program is for, for the people who are ready to go the extra mile, both for themselves and for Wärtsilä”, he says.
“It has been incredible to witness our team’s project idea, green ammonia's operational and financial feasibility, come to life and grow from an idea to a viable business model”, Berg summarizes. “In fact, during this summer, Wärtsilä announced that they will start researching and developing an engine running on ammonia and that was exactly the direction we wanted to push us. To see these types of developments, well, it is extremely rewarding.”
Vesterinen cannot but agree with Koivisto and Berg. “It has been truly amazing to see the level of commitment everyone has, as well as working with colleagues to whom our purpose, enabling sustainable societies with smart technology, is not just words on paper, but has true personal meaning and relevance. Just wow!"
When hearing all of this, one cannot help but agree - just wow!