I was in Brazil when I applied for the Graduate Programme in January 2017. When they called me and invited me to the interview, my little brother was playing with my phone and he picked it up thinking it was a prank call because of the foreign number. That was just funny. I can still feel the excitement and happiness the opportunity brought, starting from that moment to every step I have taken on this challenging journey as a Graduate at UPM.
Many people have asked me why I would move from the constantly warm tropics to the cloudy, cold part of the world. Well, that was indeed a big change in my life. The change actually started during my studies in Chemical Engineering at the Federal University of Minas Gerais, when I had the chance to study one year abroad in the United States and the last semester in Finland.
At that time, I got an internship at UPM at the Kymi pulp mill in Kuusankoski, Finland. I still remember my first day at work at UPM when the mill director came to my office to say hello. I was impressed by that simple act just because I was not expecting such simplicity and low hierarchy in a big company like UPM. That confirmed the good reputation of the company’s work environment that I had imagined already before. When I got accepted to the Graduate Programme I was sure to be entering a great company.
After 13 months, I had already worked at four UPM locations, in Finland and in Germany. I started the program in a small community of Dörpen, Germany, where the loudest sound was the sound of the church bells or my neighbour’s sheep. After a semester, I was back to Kuusankoski, this time at the Kymi paper mill.
Even though it was spring, I still had time to learn how to drive in a snowstorm. That quickly changed in the summer, when I was almost melting with record high temperatures in Finland. It was very nice to enjoy the Saimaa lake after work in the Research Center in Lappeenranta.
Currently, I’m working in the Plywood Logistics team in Lahti, Finland and there is one more planned rotation in the program at the paper mill in Schongau, Germany. During this time, I have worked with process simulation and improvement, data analysis and project coordination.
Meanwhile, I have also upgraded my language skills and I am now able to hold longer conversations in German and even in Finnish. I have faced many different places and tasks which have truly contributed to my personal and professional growth.
There is a long way ahead in my career and I think the Graduate programme was by far the best way to get started with. The chance to work and learn with different teams and so many operations in a world class company is really unique. But what really amazes me is that wherever you go at UPM, despite the distances, you will always find a culture of continuous improvement where people trust each other to build better sustainable solutions.
Our environment is in a growing need of renewable and efficient processes that can only be achieved with talented and motivated people. Quoting Aristotle, “Where your talents and the needs of the world cross; there lies your vocation.” The opportunities are limitless, and UPM has the vocation to be the key chain in the bio economy. I am proud to be a part of this story!