Making it happen at UPM Biofuels: Developing technologies for future growth

Niilo Oikarinen, UPM Biofuels’ Growth Program’s Technology Director. Source: UPM Biofuels

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Enthusiasm for technology and more than 17 years of experience are the main weapons in Niilo Oikarinen’s fight against climate change. Meet UPM Biofuels’ Growth Program’s Technology Director.

What is your work all about?

My team’s goal is to increase our production capacity significantly. In my position as Director, Technology in Biofuels Growth Program I am responsible for making sure we have the technologies needed to achieve our business growth goals. I work with my team mainly on technology assessments and technology development. It includes a lot of cooperation with external technology developers and R&D operators, and we also conduct research ourselves at UPM. 

How have your first months at UPM Biofuels been?

I came to UPM in November 2022 with more than 17 years of experience in the field. I have been well received and gotten a lot of support from my committed and professional colleagues. Special thanks to my supervisor Ilkka Poranen and Andrea Gutierrez and Pekka Jokela!

UPM Biofuels has the courage to give people a lot of personal responsibility, even though most work is done in teams. The work atmosphere is open, encouraging and trusting. 

What inspires and motivates you in your daily work?

I’ve always been immensely interested in technology, so this is the perfect field for me. My team and I get to directly influence the development of UPM Biofuels. It is a pleasure to work in an organisation where I am genuinely listened to and, if necessary, challenged. I would quickly become demotivated if the work was too easy. 

How do you develop in your work?

I have noticed that I develop the most through versatile and increasingly demanding tasks. Although I have only been working here for a short time, I feel that I have already had time to learn new things, and I’m surrounded by top experts that teach me something every day.

Succeeding in a demanding job requires active skill development. In addition to technical know-how and networking, it is also important to develop so-called soft skills related to for example cooperation and management.

How do you stay motivated?

Motivating tasks give me energy and endurance at work. Nevertheless, I find it important to limit my working days to a reasonable length to keep a balance between work and free time. My family, physical activity and nature give me the strength to cope better at work. 

When do you find your work most rewarding?

In technology development, we work daily to solve technical challenges, and it is rewarding every time we succeed. In addition, learning new things and understanding technologies better is always rewarding, also when an idea turns out to be unworkable. Learning comes not only from successes but also from mistakes.

What would you like to say to newcomers to the biofuels business?

This industry is rapidly developing, both in terms of technologies and e.g., regulations, and there is an opportunity to influence the development of the industry, for example through innovations. It is motivating to work in an industry where the main purpose is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions!

I want to encourage especially students and those still in the early stages of their careers to actively apply for interesting and challenging positions. Hard work is rewarded, and you should boldly seize any new opportunities! Follow UPM's job openings. This is a great company that offers opportunities for interesting tasks and career development!


Source: UPM