The Best Reward Is Seeing Everything Fall into Place

Like a multitalented master of ceremonies who makes sure that customers get the exact products they need, the project manager must be able hold all the strings and know when to pull the right ones.

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”No two projects are ever the same because customer requirements vary. The challenge of the job is to produce a product that’s perfect for its purpose”, says Anna-Leena Huhta-Aho. Huhta-aho graduated from the Tampere University of Technology and has worked as a project manager at Vahterus for 11 years.

It was the challenging nature of thermal technology that made her choose it as her major. ”I’m still learning something new every day, even after so many years in the industry”, she explains.

Orders that include special requirements are managed as projects. In these cases, the project manager is the ‘master of ceremonies’ from order to delivery: he or she is the single point of contact for the customer and the go-between for the production and design teams.

”There are all kinds of codes and standards to consider. Especially in the marine sector, there are several classification societies, and mergers between them have become more common. There are more and more special materials, and delivery times are increasingly short”, says Huhta-aho when asked about the aspects that make her job interesting. The work is structured but hectic. While talking with Huhta-Aho, it seems that project managers are always in a hurry.

Project manager Harri Salminen only joined Vahterus a year ago, but he has an extensive career in thermal technology. He studied to be a mechanical engineer, andhis first job was at the Uusikaupunki shipyard run by Rauma-Repola. The shipyard’s thermal technology department was also where the Vahterus CEO Mauri Kontu was working at the time. The shipyard gave a good insight into pressure equipment. As well as heat exchangers, they manufactured boilers for marine and on-land applications. ”All my career, I’ve worked with pressure equipment, either in design or project management roles. At Vahterus, the new element for me is the international connections. That’s what keeps me learning every day”, says Salminen.

Extreme conditions and strict requirements

Vahterus delivers technologies for demanding conditions. This means that project managers have numerous things to consider: quality requirements, standards and testing. Sometimes projects can be very large in scale and it takes many steps before getting to the finishing line.

”There can be some major changes in the middle of a project. That’s when you need to be able to communicate with the design team, the customer and even sales in order to find a solution to every problem”, explains Huhta-aho. She is very proud of one particular project where Vahterus supplied a technological solution to the mines of the world’s leading platinum producer in South Africa. Heat exchangers were installed in eight mineshafts over one kilometre underground.

The best reward for hard work is to see how everything comes together at the end of a demanding project: the factory, plant or other site is working as it should and Vahterus technology is making it happen.

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Anna-Leena Huhta-Aho works as project manager at Vahterus.