Humans of Pulp: Chasing perfection with Sanna Sihvola.
As part of our Humans of Pulp series, we profile engineer Sanna Sihvola, who loves figuring out how things work and being hands-on. This makes her a perfect fit for her current role, where she is responsible for keeping UPM’s Kymi mill running in top form.
As a young girl, Sanna Sihvola grew up in the small municipality of Anjalankoski, an area steeped in history that is at the heart of the Finnish papermaking industry. The 200-kilometre-long Kymi River runs through the area, with the numerous pulp and paper mills along its length providing an exciting career for many pulp and paper professionals.
Sihvola works as an engineer in maintenance development at the UPM Kymi mill regional maintenance organisation, where she oversees the reporting and developing of all maintenance issues at the mill. “There are no routine days,” she says, with a typical day involving various problem-solving tasks, development projects, and a hefty amount of teamwork.
“I have always been interested in engineering, but I am the only one working in maintenance development in my family, and that has led to some funny situations,” she says and laughs. Her inspiration for joining the field is her grandfather, who worked as a mechanic and helped buoy her interest in wanting to figure out how things work.
No stranger to paper, pulp and cardboard production sites, Sihvola has worked in the maintenance field for nearly two decades. While the majority of her work is now done in front of a computer, she relishes the opportunity to handle machinery up close.
The spirit of camaraderie
Sihvola gives credit to her supervisors for the warm welcome she was received with as a newcomer at UPM, which made her feel at ease. She also got to be part of all meetings and projects from day one, with her opinions being taken into consideration right from the start.
“The biggest buzz for me at work is always working together in a team, striving to achieve a common goal. It does not matter whether the job is big or small; working together is the best,” she adds
“I am definitely an early bird. I am usually at my desk by seven in the morning, even if officially my working hours don’t start before eight,” says Sihvola.
Likewise, her days don’t end when her shift is done, but only when she is happy with the way specific tasks are completed and the work is perfect.
When she is not busy making sure that the mill is in ship-shape condition, Sihvola can be found taking out her mountain bike for a ride one day or pulling on her running shoes or visiting the gym. She also finds time to be an active board member at her housing community and to take part in the Finnish Reservist Association.
Her biggest passion though is in shooting sports, which is partly explained by her interest in mechanics. “Guns are mechanical objects more than anything, after all,” she says.
During the summer season, Sihvola travels around Finland to take part in competitive shooting events almost every week. She has achieved excellent results at national level championships in semi-automatic rifle shooting. Activities like these, she explains, are a great way to relieve stress, as it requires both physical and mental concentration.
“When I concentrate on the performance, it is impossible not to feel present in the moment. All other thoughts just disappear,” she adds.
Text: Anna Gustafsson