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HEADLINE Interviews

Strengthening Valmet’s Presence and Expanding Horizons in Asia Pacific

“India is one of our key markets and we’re constantly developing our local capabilities here to better serve the customers in India, Asia-Pacific and globally. Further, the Indian market also plays an important role in our global manufacturing, procurement and in the overall supply chain.”
Mr. Petri Paukkunen, Area President, Asia Pacific at Valmet

In an interview with Paper Mart, Mr. Petri Paukkunen, Area President, Asia Pacific at Valmet, talks about his roles and responsibilities as an Area President, the vision and strategies for the Asia-Pacific market, the outlook on the association with the Indian pulp and paper industry, and thoughts on the recovery from the crisis the pandemic has created.

Excerpts from the interview:

Paper Mart: Kindly outline your major roles and responsibilities as an Area President, Asia-Pacific Area at Valmet?

Petri Paukkunen: Valmet has maintained a strong position in Asia-Pacific, we have around 900 persons and 25 locations in this area. The Asia-Pacific market is one of the most important markets globally in many ways and for a number of industries, for example, the fast-growing market of the pulp and paper industry.

“Valmet has been consistently developing its presence along with local capabilities in Asia-Pacific… My role is to lead and further develop Valmet’s sales and services operations”

Valmet has been consistently developing its presence along with local capabilities in Asia-Pacific to better serve our customers with the right and efficient solutions. My role is to lead and further develop Valmet’s sales and services operations, to strengthen Valmet’s growth and the customer relations in the Asia-Pacific area.

PM: Prior to this role, you have also donned the caps of Vice President, Board and Paper Mills business unit (BU) and Vice President, Sales and Marketing — how do you think your knowledge acquired in these roles is going to help you in the present role as Area President?

PP: Valmet’s strong offering includes – process technologies, services and automation to pulp mills, tissue, board and paper production lines, as well as power plants for bioenergy production.

The board and paper mills’ business unit where I worked in the past is the largest process technology business unit in Valmet, with more than 1,200 professionals around the world. Heading this BU has provided me with very good insights into the board and paper production-related process technology and has built the internal network which helps me to better understand the customers and area-specific needs.

During the period of heading the BU’s Sales and Marketing, I was able to travel around the world to meet the customers regularly, including the customers in Asia-Pacific area. I was heavily involved in a couple of key projects in this area. Being close to the customers and understanding their needs is the key to achieve success in business. I believe the knowledge and network built in my previous roles has helped and will continue to enable me in fulfilling my current roles and responsibilities.

PM: Your association with Valmet goes a long way back, over 30 years. How do you manage to get attuned to the work culture and country-specific demands with new roles and geographies?

PP: During my whole career, I have always been in a global role, visiting more than 40 countries, meeting the people and seeing the diversity of each area. After moving to Thailand, this is the fourth country I have lived in.

We have expanded the automation’s operation facility and have increased our footprint in India through GL&V acquisition in 2019. Last year, we decided to invest in filter fabric manufacturing in Pune, and the operation will start later this year.

Asia-Pacific area is diverse and my international background gives me the foundation to understand the issues with a wide perspective. Our competent teams located in the six regions in Asia-Pacific supports me in this role to better serve our customers.

PM: Share with us some of the immediate strategies or company-wide policies as an Area President you would like to implement to attain the objectives of Valmet in Asia-Pacific regions.

PP: At Valmet, our mission is to convert renewable resources into sustainable results with our technologies, services and automation. In March, we introduced our climate program – forward to a carbon neutral future, to continue our comprehensive work to reduce CO2 and other emissions.

We can supply process technology, services and automation – which is unique in the pulp and paper and the energy industries. We also streamline the way to serve our customers globally by implementing our services concept ‘Valmet’s way to serve’ that aims to provide the best customer experience in all the touch points in the customer’s journey.

Our four core commitments are ‘safety comes first’, ‘close to you’, ‘solutions to your needs’ and ‘people you can trust’. To be close to our customers, we systematically expand our locations in the area to better serve customers and also provide them with remote services along with new technologies especially in this challenging situation due to the ongoing pandemic. Regardless of the geographical location, the customers can easily access all Valmet professionals.

In the area, we are focusing on moving our customer’s performance forward.

PM: Valmet’s presence in India is both long and clearly visible. Kindly share with us your association with the Indian paper industry and how you have witnessed the changes in technology and perception about technology. How has Valmet been instrumental in upgrading the overall technological standard of the Indian paper industry?

PP: Valmet has been active in the Indian market, bringing the latest technology, services and automation to Indian customers. As a recent example, we have supplied Valmet Continuous Cooking, the latest third-generation technology to an Indian pulp mill, helping the customer to achieve lower water consumption and raw material efficiency in the operations.

Another example is the delivery of key containerboard machine technologies to paper mills in India, helping customers with their target of producing high-quality containerboard with tangible efficiency improvements to enhance their competitiveness. Also, we have provided a modern state-of-the-art recovery boiler technology to an Indian customer, to ensure reliability, energy efficiency and environmental performance.

We can supply process technology, services and automation – which is unique in the pulp and paper and the energy industries. We also streamline the way to serve our customers globally by implementing our services concept ‘Valmet’s way to serve‘ “

From the renewable side, we are executing three projects in India consisting of – BioTrac™ biomass pretreatment system for biomass to ethanol application. With this technology, waste material such as rice straw can be utilized to produce climate friendly biofuels.

Along with the process technology deliveries, we also provide the automation, industrial internet applications and services to our customers to increase process reliability and performance.

The Indian pulp and paper industry has been investing strongly in new technologies to bring the overall technological standards of the Indian paper industry to the next level. We have been working alongside our customers in India to reach that target.

PM: Has India proved to be a fair investment market in terms of demand, business growth, ease-of-doing-business for Valmet? Kindly give us your views! What are your strategies or plans for the Indian market?

PP: Valmet has four offices and two workshops in India. Our capability in India has been developing systematically. We have expanded the automation’s operation facility and have increased our footprint in India through GL&V acquisition in 2019. Last year, we decided to invest in filter fabric manufacturing in Pune, and the operation will start later this year. All these efforts show our strong presence and commitment to the Indian market.

India is one of our key markets and we’re constantly developing our local capabilities here to better serve the customers in India, Asia-Pacific and globally. Further, the Indian market also plays an important role in our global manufacturing, procurement and in the overall supply chain.

PM: Your comments on the present state of the Indian pulp and paper industry? How much time do you think the industry will take to fully recover its natural growth post-COVID?

PP: The COVID-19 pandemic has a definite impact with regard to a number of aspects. From the industry-perspective, in the pandemic, the development of remote and other digital services has been speeding up utilizing the latest technology. Also, the boom of e-commence and strict hygiene requirements bring various opportunities for the packaging and tissue business.

The industry’s full recovery from the COVID-19 crisis is difficult to estimate at the moment. It depends on factors such as the vaccination process and the new possible virus variations.