Mäkelä entered Orion's production facilities in Espoo for the first time in 2009, before he had graduated as a Master of Science in mechanical engineering. For the first few months he worked on his Master’s thesis in the production development team, and after this was offered a place as a development engineer in the same team.
“The production development team’s task was to launch projects with the aim of improving productivity. At that time, lean thinking was something new and its theories were just beginning to take root at Orion,” says Mäkelä.
Mäkelä and the team standardised the production facilities and operations so the working environment would enable efficient and smooth work. With the support of international consulting firms, the team learned how to run development workshops, they worked on metrics, established management systems and in all their activities worked towards more efficient production lines.
“We went back to basics and got to work organising the tools and supplies of the tablet packaging department according to the lean 5S method. That was the starting point for building a consistent culture of continuous improvement at Orion,” says Mäkelä.
Lean training changed our way of thinking
Mäkelä says that during his career, he has always been offered suitably bigger boots to fill. He says that the opportunity offered by his employer to attend Lean Six Sigma Black Belt and Master Black Belt training was a turning point in his career.
“The training sessions made me realise what continuous improvement was all about and what is involved in achieving it.”
Mäkelä learned the importance of being proactive and how much persistence and perseverance are required to take things forward.
“Working methodically, providing reasons for doing something and making the effort will always produce results in the end. When you listen to people, involve them in the change and proceed in a consistent way, the culture will gradually change,” Mäkelä says.
From development role to manager
Mäkelä says that though his career path has been direct, it has still presented a good mix of challenges and opportunities. After his development role, it was natural for him to move on and gain managerial experience.
“Being selected as Production Manager of the inhalation production department proved that my employer believed in me – I had no previous managerial experience.”
When Mäkelä started in this role he already had a strong background in development projects and some insight into introducing a culture of continuous improvement to daily work, but now he was also responsible for the department’s overall result and the personnel’s well-being, their coping at work and their success.
The new role required the inexperienced manager to have an open-minded attitude, as the inhalation production volume was growing rapidly at the time. This meant that, in addition to the day-to-day work, a large number of development and expansion projects were also in progress. Luckily, the department had a positive atmosphere, and the employees were happy to participate in the changes.
“A manager must remember to listen and understand people's limits. You have to make sure that no one is left behind along the way,” he says.
As responsibility grows, the ability to understand the big picture becomes more important
In 2018, Ville was selected to be the Head of Operations of tablet production. He was required to focus on the daily work of the tablet production department and the organisations related to the process and the smoothness of cooperation. At first it took time to build up a picture of the situation and a long-term view, but his goal was clear: Mäkelä wanted both tablet production and the related functions to advance to the same goal.
Ville describes his current role as a balancing act, where it is important to carefully consider every step and listen to stakeholders. This ensures that your progress is effortless and confident, and you won't have to worry about stumbling.
“You must not do all alone. It is important to engage in dialogue and discussion as this ensures that you are on top of everything and have a clear view of the situation. Then it's easy to decide which projects to take forward.”
You can always rely on the profession skill of your colleagues
Mäkelä describes his career at Orion as varied and suitably challenging. There is always something new and interesting around the corner, but it has always been a safe path to follow. He feels he has always received sufficient support in his new roles, so he has been able to gradually grow into them.
“I’m surrounded by a great team of professionals who help me keep my head above water, even though I have sometimes been required to jump in at the deep end during my career. You are continuously exposed to a huge amount of know-how here, and it is very beneficial to be able to learn and develop among this.”
The three best aspects at Orion:
- Responsibility and freedom to take things forward. The atmosphere is positive and forward-looking. The “Build the future” value is realised every day.
- High level of profession skill and expertise. It's great to be part of this team.
- You are not forced into a certain mould here – you can truly be yourself.