How I get to use my entrepreneurial skills at Stora Enso – Mea Mäkijärvi

Forest industry doesn’t usually fit in the same sentence with entrepreneurship and innovation, or what do you think? Many see the companies in forestry as big, slow and old fashioned. If you keep reading this blog post I hope to change this view.

As our CEO said in one of our all employee calls, even elephants can learn to dance.

When curiosity wins

I’ve always been interested in understanding how and why people behave the way they do. Thinking about it now I should’ve probably studied psychology. But I ended up studying marketing instead. At some point, I felt that my curious nature would actually be best utilized when coming up with new ventures and I ended up doing my Master’s in entrepreneurship. I truly loved the inspiring atmosphere in my studies, the passion of founders we got to meet, the crazy ideation sessions, late nights perfecting pitches and slide decks while having fun working with people from various backgrounds.

Baby steps but in the right direction

Upon graduation, my marketing background helped me to secure my first jobs and I had to lay my entrepreneurial spirit to rest for a bit at first. I joined Stora Enso, a leading provider of renewable solutions in packaging, biomaterials, wooden construction and paper on global markets, through the GROW trainee program and started learning exciting things about renewable materials and how we source our raw material in Finland. During the past 2.5 years with the company our strategic direction has changed to have a strong focus on innovation and customer orientation. It is clear we need new competences, talent and partners to make it happen.

As our CEO said in one of our all employee calls, even elephants can learn to dance. Stora Enso might be in the beginning of its entrepreneurial journey but in my opinion definitely headed in the right direction:

  • In Stora Enso Accelerator program our employees work together with startups that are active in areas which are important to our future. The aim is to collaborate with the right startups, to improve our understanding of new technologies and to learn lean and quick ways to innovate.
  • We have held our first open innovation challenge #HackThePack with Industryhack a year ago. Eight teams worked on digital solutions that would increase the transparency of our value chain from forest to product.
  • Currently we have partnered up with Kone, Combient and Vertical to get some new perspectives and solutions from startups to defined business challenges. Startups can apply until February 28th (go check out Combient Foundry’s website for more info and the application link)!

When the time is right

In my new position as Innovation Manager for Wood Supply Finland I get to drive lean startup, design thinking and service design among other innovation methods into our everyday life and operations. My aim is to build and foster an innovative culture in my organization that offers good grounds to innovate for both our employees as well as external stakeholders such as startups, customers and other partners. Together we can make great things happen for a more renewable future!

Looking forward to seeing you all in the beginning of March. And in the meanwhile, go see “What a tree can do” at our website.

Mea Mäkijärvi, Innovation Manager, Wood Supply Finland, Stora Enso