Chief Executive Officer of Business Joensuu Harri Palviainen knows that management equals interaction. In his speech, he emphasises ‘us’ over ‘me’. A manager should not dictate, but steer. Wisdom can be discovered by listening to people and trusting them.

At first, he invested in discussions with personnel and business representatives. He found out that time is ripe for change in the Joensuu region.

– I am positively surprised to find out how strongly people believe in the development of this region and the opportunities it has to offer. It has also become clear that the expectations are high regarding the new organisation and me as its CEO. This is exactly how it should be – after all, we are in the process of making long-term changes.

Elements in the right place

Palviainen thinks that there are good elements in place in Joensuu:

– Forest bioeconomy, photonics, extractive industries, technology – the list is long, but not yet complete. For instance, there seem to various new opportunities related to food products. When it comes to developing the spearheads of expertise, the availability of education and research in the region is a definite advantage.

We are working on a long-term change

Palviainen strongly believes that cross-sectoral competence can create something new.

– For example, Arbonaut is a fantastic example of what can be achieved by combining expertise in IT software and forestry.

Right amount of humbleness

The man who spent his youth in Rantakylä, Joensuu, recognises the Karelian influence on himself. To him, it means Russian Orthodox religion, earthiness and a humane attitude.

Soon after becoming the CEO of Business Joensuu, Palviainen also visited Valamis, whose success story impressed him. During this visit, the discussion soon turned to the scarcity of North Karelian success stories. Are we too humble? Do we lack courage?

– During my career, I have spent time in international settings and noticed that earthy values and a certain amount of humbleness are respected world wide, Palviainen says. To him, humbleness means an inborn need to listen, learn and develop.

Palviainen admits he believes in evolution. Things develop and change all the time, whether it is about nature or the world of business.

– Quoting Einstein, it is about the fact that the biggest and strongest do not eventually do best, but are outdone by the ones with abilities to develop, evolve and adjust.

Leader of people

Trust, openness, the power of different kinds of people, goal-oriented approaches, listening to people, being systematic. According to Harri Palviainen, these are the key themes of management.

– People are smart. When they know the strategy and the goals, they take care of their duties. As a manager, I am like a beacon. I wholeheartedly support the idea that a leader is a person whom people follow without having to.

One of Palviainen’s favourite topics is learning. He promises to give Business Joensuu all his expertise and experience, and he also plans to learn a lot himself.

– To be involved in different things, such as creating something new in Joensuu, is a way to develop myself. I have done all sorts in my career, but nothing like this. I am really motivated by the idea of working on wide-ranging and long-term projects, which can affect companies’ operating conditions, this region and its people.

A player!

Soon after the news had spread on his nomination, Harri Palviainen was characterised as a leader for change. Not many people knew the man beforehand in the Joensuu region. His reputation as a leader for change, even an axeman, was strengthened by his work history consisting of numerous jobs. The truth is, however, slightly different. Palviainen’s longest continuous work relationship so far has been with Comptel, approximately nine years in total. He transferred to Joensuu from Produal, a building automation company where he also spent 3.5 years. There are various companies on his CV, as Palviainen has worked non-stop since his studies.

– My first job involved delivering Helsingin Sanomat in the morning before going to school. When I was in the fourth grade at school, I was given my first computer. I was very enthusiastic and developed my first computer game at the age of 16. It was distributed internationally. Commodore and Amiga were big names when I took my first steps of digitalisation.

Positive rock’n’roll

Business is not everything in Harri Palviainen’s life. When it is time to relax, the man goes running or heads to the gym. When it is time to enjoy oneself, he goes to a concert.

– Live concerts are the thing, and positive rock’n’roll is my genre. Bon Jovi, ZZ Top, Imagine Dragons, Stray Cats, a rockabilly band who made a comeback…

The list is long, and Palviainen often heads abroad to a concert. Self-evidently, the man is familiar with Ilosaarirock in Joensuu.

– Joensuu really offers fantastic events. Approximately one million persons visit these events annually.