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Blog | 02/25/2020 09:39:56

UPM Graduates Life: Sales and Communication Papers

Sameer Sawaqed

UPM Graduate

“Two roads diverged in a wood and I- I took the one less travelled by, and that has made all the difference.” —Robert Frost

A global company. Opportunity for international travel. Real-world business learning. A chance to widen your network. These are just a few benefits that come with doing the UPM Graduate Program. Before applying to the program, I had many questions. Why paper? Why UPM? Why get out of my comfort zone? Fast forward six months and I am growing in new ways I could not have imagined.

Travelling to countries like Finland and Germany have exposed me not only to international business. Seeing different cultures and meeting individuals – whether trainees, senior management, or even the CEO, has given me new insight into the world. Learning to interact across cultures is a skill I could not have gotten anywhere else. Having a 360° view of the company has also given me valuable information about different career paths, and what it takes to become senior management.


I work within the sales team led by Mark Goodman and I report to Jennifer S. Wilkerson. Working with Jen as my first “true” manager outside of university has been awesome. I am grateful to have a great manager who challenges me to be better every day, whether by giving me new tasks, through continued educational opportunities, or by observing everyday business activities within our company.

One thing I have learned from Jen is the concept of asking “Why not”? If something isn’t working, ask “how can we find a solution?” If a solution does not seem clear, ask “why not?” or “Why can’t we accomplish more?” This approach is something I love. I have always sought to strive for greatness and to learn from someone with that type of motivation and out-of-the-box thinking is an exceptional opportunity. Before entering corporate life, I feared what this new phase would bring. But reporting to Jen has felt like working with my professors from college. The opportunities that Jen and UPM give me for self-development and education is something I can really appreciate about the company culture.

Dealing with interesting industry challenges has helped me gain perspective on new ways to approach problems and develop clear strategies. It is so much easier to tackle new challenges when I work with so many amazing colleagues. UPM culture is fantastic! From my very first day, I have been warmly welcomed by everyone in the office. The atmosphere of sincerity and openness makes me excited to come to work every single day. 

What are some of the work you do?

As a trainee, I am more than an intern; I am an advocate for UPM’s young professionals. So, my first task in the program is to learn. I have had a plethora of training opportunities to learn about our products, our customers, our mills, our values and our company. I have been able to do this through different rotational experiences, which has made learning interesting and engaging. I’ve worked in in supply chain, customer service, logistics, technical customer service, and sales. I also have individual projects to work on ranging from product training, software training, sales training, and industry analysis. My work at UPM has been a wonderful opportunity to enhance my overall professional knowledge.

My next rotation in the program will be going abroad for over two months. Much like a study abroad in university, I will be doing a sales-focused rotation in Augsburg, Germany, meeting customers and seeing our mills. After this final rotation, we have one more get-together as graduates in Helsinki. Once I graduate from this program I will move on to a new role as a sales representative focusing on new business development. The amount of knowledge and people I have met in six months is amazing, and I am looking forward to these next six months. UPM’s Graduate Programme has for certain taught me one thing: taking the road less travelled makes all the difference in taking your career to the next level.


Sameer Sawaqed

Sameer Sawaqed

UPM Graduate |