As I am writing this blog post I am in the middle of preparing my move from Stockholm, Sweden and Stora Enso Paper to Beihai, China and the Consumer Board division's investment in the Guangxi region. As you might imagine this is quite a big change for me, both personally and professionally. Not only am I moving 8000 km from my family and friends, to a different time-zone, climate and culture but I am changing division, position and general job description. You might ask what prompted me to do this? In short the trainee program and all of the opportunities it gave me.
During my first 1,5 years in Stora Enso I worked as a Business Controller for Operations in the Paper division. This position gave me a great understanding for what producing paper actually entails and the size and complexity of the operations as well as the financials behind it. This was probably the best possible introduction for me as a business student and pulp and paper novice to this multi-billion dollar industry. Parallel to my daily work the trainee program gave me the opportunity to get better insight to what was going on in the company over all. For me I think this was especially important. It's no secret that the demand for paper is declining each year. By gaining a greater understanding for the Building and Living, Packaging and Biomaterial divisions, I could both see and understand the future of Stora Enso and how important the Paper division was for the company to be able to achieve this future. I.e. without the cash-flow generated by the paper division, there wouldn't be any money to invest in the projects that will transform Stora Enso into the leading provider of renewable materials that it aims to become. And thus I could see how the work I was doing contributed to this future.
None the less, when it became time for me to decide the location for my international assignment I decided that I wanted to try something completely different. Thus I chose to go back to Beihai, where the trainee group spent two weeks last March and continue the work we had been doing there related to business development in the region surrounding the land where Stora Enso is building its newest consumer board mill. My three months in Beihai were some of the most exhausting and challenging in my life, but at the same time the most rewarding. In a more concrete way than ever before I could see how my actions contributed to the development of the project, partly because I felt empowered as part of the trainee program to take initiative and not to be afraid to make some noise. I was also able to better put the leadership training that we had received at IMD into use, and it was truly helpful in managing my actions when working together with people from very different cultures than I was used to. Therefore, when I was offered to return full time as a Project Manager for Global Responsibility I did not hesitate to accept the offer.
I have now been home for a while, amongst other things waiting for my visa application to go through, and am leaving on Sunday to start my assignment. My transit at home has given me some time to reflect on my choice to go back, and I must say that there have been moments when I have doubted my decision. Especially when spending time with family and friends. On the other hand one of the reasons why I started working at Stora Enso in the first place was because I wanted to challenge myself. I am therefore convinced that this is the right decision for me, and I can't wait to start my next 1,5 years in Stora Enso as part of the Guangxi Integrated Project.
Hope to see you in Beihai!