Story | 02/27/2023 12:28:21 | 4 min Read time

Setting the Standard: Customer contacts and the story of responsible timber keep Juha Santaholma inspired

Juha Santaholma is responsible for UPM Timber's sales in Middle East and Northern Africa, and for the development of Timber's sales across all markets. Juha is proud to pass on the story of Finnish timber and is therefore in a good position to contribute to sustainability discussions with customers around the world.

Who are you and what do you do at UPM Timber?

I'm Juha Santaholma, Senior Manager, Sales & Sales Development. During my office days I work at Alholma Sawmill in Pietarsaari, the place where logs are processed into UPM Timber products. I am responsible for the Middle Eastern and North African markets, i.e. MENA countries such as Algeria, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia. In addition, I am involved in sales development tasks in the sales management team led by Sales Director Mikko Hyvärinen, together with the managers of our sales offices.

What does your typical working day consist of?

My days vary greatly as situations come and go. It's challenging to predict and schedule tasks because even the smallest of things can sometimes turn into a major issue to resolve. I enjoy the hectic nature of my work, even though workdays may occasionally stretch. That’s why I have to remember to take care of my personal recovery as well.

My phone is my most important tool at work. I often make my first calls and map out prospects together with colleagues and stakeholders, while commuting from my home in Kokkola to the office. There's also a lot of organising in major monthly North African business transactions between shipments. Internal meetings both at the production sites and at the Tampere head office are important opportunities to gather and share information.

Most of our own business communication take place over the phone and at the desk, but client meetings are really the lifeblood of this work. Face-to-face, many things open up in a new way. Clients value physical presence; it increases interaction and helps engage both sides. Of course, people are getting used to Teams meetings too.

Wherever I am, my job is to support the field by finding solutions to customer queries, in collaboration with colleagues, production, and the supply chain.

What are you most proud of in your job?

I take pride in our international working environment and our respected brand. The values of the company correspond to my own world view. I am happy to see that sustainability issues are increasingly becoming part of the debate around the world. Previously, product, price and delivery time were the core issues. The story of sustainable forestry, from thriving forests to fossil-free production, including wood processing and timber, is a source of pride for me, as are our long-standing customer relationships. Our renewed customer promise to work towards a more sustainable future is a lasting one.


As sustainability talk turns deeper into concrete actions, we want to support our customers and be involved in their own sustainability work.

What is the most challenging aspect of your job?

The hectic pace and responsibility are part of the nature of the sport. As situations change in a rapid cycle, you must be able to make decisions quickly, often on different issues at the same time. This means keeping your head together when messages start coming in through different channels. Fortunately, at UPM Timber you can get support when you need it.

How is your handprint reflected in UPM Timber's products?

The UPM Timber story aims to convey our generations-long appreciation for the Finnish forest, and this is also where my handprint shows. This legacy continues today towards even more diverse forest management and modern fossil-free sawmilling processes. In the true story of UPM Timber, not even a straw is wasted, and all wood is used carefully and sustainably.

What does our new customer promise, Setting the Standard, mean to you?

It means a lot. As sustainability talk turns deeper into concrete actions, we want to support our customers and be involved in their own sustainability work. Climate change concerns us all. I want to be a part of creating and implementing this new roadmap, while constantly also raising the bar for my own ambitions.

Read about our customer promise Setting the Standard

Try out our new carbon footprint calculator!


In the Setting the Standard series, we feature UPM Timber employees from a variety of job profiles, both at the headquarters and on the production lines. All our employees are committed to our customer promise Setting the Standard to continuously strive for better results. In the series, staff members share their own work and how they raise the bar every day. 

Read our previous Setting the Standard story: in Soili Kuusisto's team, even the good things can always be improved

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