Story | 03/31/2023 05:01:12 | 4 min Read time

Setting the Standard: Mika Kouvo concentrates on quality, efficiency, and safe working environment

Mika Kouvo knows the UPM Kaukas sawmill grading plant inside out, having progressed to a manager position in production, starting as a summer worker at the sawmill. His practical experience comes in handy both in his work as a supervisor and in the development of the mill's operations.

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

"I am Mika Kouvo, Manager, Grading at UPM Kaukas sawmill. I work as supervisor for a team of 25 people at the sawmill, where timber is graded, packed, and shipped to the customer. I handle personnel matters, reporting and participate in production development."

What does your typical working day consist of?

"I come to work at 7 am and make a report of the previous day. Then I have a cup of coffee and go on a tour of the production floor. Every day is a little different. Sometimes there are more things on my desk, such as joint meetings with the sawmill director, the production manager or other colleagues and, for example, sawmill maintenance. Other times, we work together to improve production or also involve the employees in the development of grading and packaging."

How did you end up in your current job?

"I first came to UPM for a summer job at Kaukas planing mill in 2005 and did that for several summers until I got hired for a longer period. Then I spent more than six years at another planer mill.

I returned to UPM when I had the opportunity to sign an apprenticeship contract in 2016. After my training, I worked in grading plant, most recently as a supervisor. In 2020, I felt that I could also do something more relating to the industry, so I applied to study wood technology at LAB University, where I continue to study while working.

In spring 2022, I applied for an internship, and after various coincidences, I spent the summer managing the sawmill production myself. Since it went well, I thought I would apply for the position of Manager, Grading, when the vacancy opened up.

Since September 2022, I've been working as Manager at the grading unit where I was previously an employee. I've enjoyed the job and the cooperation with my former colleagues has worked well. It's good to know your department inside out."

What are you most proud of in your work?

"I am honored to work at Kaukas sawmill. My father was a forklift driver for 35 years on the same site, and my brother also works at the sawmill. I am proud of our skilled staff and the career opportunities at UPM. Learning new things and receiving nice feedback is truly heart-warming. The last time I got positive feedback was for my role as supervisor, which is right on the button, as I really like working with people."

What is the most challenging part of your job?

"Every day there are new things to learn. Generally, I learn by just doing, and sometimes I really have to wrap my brain around some new systems, for example."

How is your handprint reflected in UPM Timber products?

"The goal is to get the timber package to the customer as ordered and in perfect condition. I try to ensure that employees can really focus on their own production tasks safely and efficiently, with secondary things taken care of."

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

"For me, Setting the Standard means constantly learning new things and overcoming challenges. Above all, it means ensuring that our high-quality products are made safely and responsibly. The goal is to be the number one choice for customers by constantly raising the bar for the quality and reliability of our products."

Read more about our customer promise Setting the Standard

In the Setting the Standard series, we feature UPM Timber employees from a variety of job roles, both at headquarters and on the production lines. Our entire staff is committed to our customer promise of 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.

More Setting the Standard stories of the UPM Timber team:

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

In Soili Kuusisto's team, even the good things can always be improved

Jarno Merisalo caters to customers' needs in timber kilning

Ville Laitinen future-proofs UPM Timber's sustainability and investments




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