Developing Business and People with a Desire to Grow

Tracy Hakala is our Managing Director for China, Australia and New Zealand. Living and working in different countries and environments has made her an expert on cross-cultural communication.

Tracy Hakala photographed at Vahterus Head Office in Kalanti, Finland in April 2018.
Tracy Hakala photographed at Vahterus Head Office in Kalanti, Finland in April 2018.

What is your work history with Vahterus?

I have been working here since February 2011. I established our China operations, first Vahterus Shanghai for trading business in 2011, followed by Vahterus Zhangjiagang, the assembly plant, in 2012. In August 2015, I moved to Australia with my family, and became our local contact for the Australian and New Zealand markets.

What do you like best about your job?

The best part of my job is to see the team we’ve recruited for Vahterus China grow up so much over the years, in both professional skills as well as team work spirit and drive for excellence. My role is to develop our business for Vahterus in China, and the starting point is to develop people. I truly believe that when our attitude and mindset is right, results will follow.

How is your typical day at work?

As a manager, a day seldom goes by without decision making, big or small. A typical day for me would be a mix of different activities: interacting with our clients and prospects, and coaching and discussing with our team on how to solve issues we meet that day. In addition, I interact with our headquarters in Finland about on-going projects.

When do you feel you have succeeded in your work?

I’ve been working for several different Finnish companies, in different industries, and in different roles. From headquarter to frontline, from marketing to sales, from mass produced components to customised industrial products. I feel my achievement has been the ability to adapt to different environments, to be a team player and my desire to learn new skills.

What kind of situations bring out your best qualities?

I think life experience makes people who they are. Living in different countries and cultures has made me quite culture-sensitive. I have been equally influenced by Asian and Western cultures, so I’ve become good at cross-cultural communication.

What is the most important value Vahterus holds?

The fact that Vahterus is a family owned company. We’re all Vahterus family members. The sense of belonging is very strong, and we have many employees who’ve served a long tenure at Vahterus.

If you weren’t doing this job, what would you be doing?

My first job was a university teacher. It was totally not planned that I entered the business world and began managing an engineering business. So if life had left me on the original track, I’d most likely still be a teacher, maybe a professor by now.

How do you spend your time outside work?

I do some yoga, and I want to take up drawing, but I haven’t been able to fully focus on that. I like reading biographies. I find stories of famous or ordinary people equally interesting. Meditation is my way of relaxing.

In the midst of everyday life, what delights you?

I appreciate every day that goes by and everyone I encounter. That is part of my life experience. Life is full of ups and downs, so I’m taking it calmly. I’m grateful that I have a very supportive husband, a very kind-hearted and intelligent daughter, and my extended family members are all loving and caring people.

What has impressed you recently?

On a recent business trip, I watched the movie called The Post. Based on a true story, the movie stars Meryl Streep as Katharine Graham, the first female publisher of a major American newspaper. Graham is a kind lady who isn’t trained to run a newspaper but inherits a family business that she tries to run the best she can. When she has to make a tough decision whether to safeguard press freedom against government wrong doings, she takes the right course, risking losing everything she has – her business, her friends... It requires tremendous courage. That courage deeply moved me.

Which new skill would you like to learn?

Drawing or photography.

What do your co-workers not know about you?

I have an Asian face but I think much like a Finn.

Who of your co-workers would you like to praise?

I thank my boss and our CEO Mauri Kontu for his trust and support over the years, and his ingenious sense of humour; my colleagues in Finland who patiently taught me about Plate & Shell heat exchangers, and my team in China for being so hard working, supportive and eager to grow.

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