KPA Unicon delivers clean energy solutions around the world. The company has international subsidiaries in Russia, France, Croatia, Chile and the UK. All KPA Unicon employees have the opportunity to challenge themselves and build an international career or accumulate experience from expatriate assignments.
To Russia after graduation
Pentti Savolainen has been at KPA Unicon for 14 years. His job has taken him to every continent multiple times. Today, Savolainen and his family reside in Chile, where he works as KPA Unicon’s Project Development Director.
Savolainen graduated from the University of Tampere with a degree in Russian language translation and interpreting. Having also studied English and international relations, Savolainen wasn’t quite sure what kind of career he should pursue.
“I finished my Master’s degree and had to decide what my next step would be. My father-in-law knew Pekka Kovanen , the founder of KPA Unicon. Pekka had told him that KPA Unicon is starting a project that needs someone who knows Russian.”
Urged on by his father-in-law, Savolainen called Pekka Kovanen and made an appointment for an interview. His new job at KPA Unicon started the following week. As Project Coordinator, he was the Project Manager’s right-hand man in a large project in Russia.
“A chemical weapons destruction facility was being built in Russia in cooperation with Americans. Just closing the deal alone was a tremendously challenging and detailed process. As you can imagine, Russians and Americans getting together to build a chemical weapons destruction facility in Russia is quite a challenging proposition.
The Russian military and the U.S. Department of Defense were both involved in the project. KPA Unicon delivered a boiler plant to the facility. Several companies from different parts of the world participated in the project.
“My job was to coordinate the collaboration and communication between the various parties involved. I also did a lot of correspondence and interpreting. In the end, the project went very well.”
Having successfully completed the chemical weapons destruction facility project, Savolainen and his wife stayed in Russia to work on other projects, and Savolainen eventually became a Project Manager himself. Next, he was in charge of establishing KPA Unicon’s Russian subsidiary, which he accomplished over a period of two years with Pekka Kovanen’s support.
“You could describe the process of establishing our Russian subsidiary as ignorance rather than courage. We didn’t have the support networks of a large listed company. We had to do it all by ourselves right from the start. We lived in St. Petersburg for three years and my wife worked at the Finnish Consulate. I learned a lot during my years in Russia and I spent a long enough time over there.”
Starting a family and taking on a new role in Pieksämäki
After several years in Russia, Savolainen returned to Pieksämäki as he and his wife had planned.
“I got to experience first hand how flexible KPA Unicon is with employees who have families. Both of our children were born during the seven years we spent in Pieksämäki. I worked on project management and a wide range of other duties in the company during that time. I also participated in sales and I was actively involved in initiatives to enter new markets.”
Savolainen was able to reconcile his work schedule with the needs of family life in spite of the fact that surveying new markets required a lot of travel. Many of the trips were to destinations in Africa, including Gabon, Tanzania and Kenya. Savolainen also visited many other countries to explore opportunities to expand the company’s operations, with Turkmenistan being one example. In 2015, he travelled to Chile on one such trip.
“My trip to Chile started out as an ordinary visit to get to know the market. We simply went there with some suppliers of sawmill industry equipment to find out whether there would be opportunities for us in Chile. And indeed there were. We hired a sales agent by the name of Rodrigo Azat and that’s how it all started.”
When the first deals had been signed, Savolainen decided to move to Chile with his family for two years to establish KPA Unicon’s local subsidiary. He became the country director for Chile.
“It wasn’t a simple decision to have our children leave their familiar day-care center, school and friends behind. Then again, we knew it would give them the chance to learn a new language and see the world. We decided to go on a two-year assignment and then return to Pieksämäki. We’ve been here for a year now. Our children have learned the language and are happily going to school, so we have settled well.”
Strong values built around clean energy and international opportunities for employees
KPA Unicon’s operations in Chile have become well-established after the first year in the country. The Chilean subsidiary has four employees and an extensive stakeholder network. The locals hold KPA Unicon in high regard, as the company’s clean energy solutions help bring relief to a country where heating in the winter often relies on burning wet wood, covering the cities in smoke. KPA Unicon’s activities in Chile also include the delivery of filters that dramatically reduce the emissions of old factories.
“Here in Chile, we can contribute to a better future and the results of our efforts are clear to see. Our clean energy solutions genuinely have significant environmental impacts here. Our products enable concrete improvements in people’s lives and health in Chile. The plants we deliver are high in efficiency and low in emissions, which means that our operations also have an impact on the sustainability of the forest industry. If KPA Unicon wasn’t a company that promotes the values of clean energy, I don’t think I would be working here,” Pentti Savolainen says.
KPA Unicon’s international presence gives all of the company’s employees the opportunity to work abroad. When the company was established nearly 30 years ago, being international was defined as one of its key operating principles.
“Our employees go out on assignments from Finland to all of our markets. Right now, we are getting ready to send another engineer from Kiuruvesi to Chile on an expatriate assignment. When you work for us, you will always have opportunities to challenge yourself and become a leading international expert in your field if that is your ambition,” promises Pekka Kovanen , founder and Chairman of the Board of Directors of KPA Unicon.
Challenge yourself and come work at KPA Unicon
“Getting to see the world and different ways of working are definitely among the advantages of a career at KPA Unicon. Those experiences make you truly appreciate our high standards of expertise and efficiency. The locals have been influenced by KPA Unicon’s professionalism and enthusiasm for the job at hand,” Pentti Savolainen explains.
There is a wide range of jobs at KPA Unicon. Employees can make moves within the organization to find new opportunities to develop themselves. The company operates in several locations in Finland and much of the work can be done flexibly on a remote basis. Jobs at KPA Unicon adapt to people’s changing life situations and international assignments are also within easy reach.
“At KPA Unicon, we have fantastic opportunities for experts. You should evaluate your skills relative to the company’s operations. Figure out where you might fit and send us an open application. Then contact me and let me know what you are interested in specifically,” says Sisko Kivistö , Chief Human Resources Officer at KPA Unicon.