In April 2021, Valmet has appointed Petri Paukkunen as the new Area President for Asia Pacific. Petri Paukkunen is a sales and general management professional who started his career with Valmet in 1991. He has an extensive background in board and paper production related process technology development, product management, and sales and customer relationship management. In the past years, Petri Paukkunen has successfully grown Valmet’s largest process technology business unit, Board and Paper Mills BU, managing more than 1,200 professionals around the world.
PaperASIA has been very fortunate to be able to talk to Mr Paukkunen recently via email on his thoughts and hopes for the market.
PaperASIA: Congratulations on your appointment as Valmet’s Area President for Asia Pacific. Can you briefly tell us your past experiences prior to the appointment?
Paukkunen: I started my career some 30 years ago in a Finnish pulp mill. After that I joined Valmet in 1991. Prior to my current role, I was in charge of Board and Paper Mills business unit which is the largest process technologybusiness unit in Valmet, with more than 1,200 professionals around the world. Leading this BU has provided me very good insights into board and paper production related process technology and built the internal network which helps me to better understand the customers and areas’ 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 customers in Asia Pacific area. I was heavily involved in a couple of key projects in this area. Being close to customer and understanding their needs is the key to achieve success in business. I believe the knowledge and network built in my previous roles helps me in my current role.
PaperASIA: You were appointed to your current post since April 2021. How to you see the market in Asia Pacific so far and what is the outlook for the Asia Pacific market in the future?
Paukkunen: Global megatrends as urbanization, e-commerce and sustainability are shaping the trends and creating increasing demand for reusable packaging materials, tissue and clean energy. Growing sustainable packaging and tissue material need brings up the demand for virgin and recycled fibre area. All these together have generated positive market impacts both on capital investment and service business. I believe this development will continue in Asia Pacific and business activity will still grow in the future.
Covid-19 pandemic has brought challenges to on-site services due to travel restriction, but on the other hand it has speeded up the development of remote services. We quickly adapt to the new normal to serve customers remotely via Performance Centres and customer portals, like remote start-up, remote commissioning.
PaperASIA: The players in the Asia Pacific market recognize Valmet as a major and reliable service provider. In your opinion, why is this so and what sets Valmet apart from its competitors?
Paukkunen: We can supply process technologies, services and automation – which is unique in the pulp and paper and 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 touchpoints in the customer’s journey.
We systematically expand our locations in the area to be close to customers. In June, we inaugurate new facility in Pune, India for filter fabric production in order to better serve our customers in Asia Pacific. In July, we open a local remote support centre in Tokyo, Japan. It is functioned as the bridge between Valmet Performance Centers and Japanese customers. It allows Japanese customers easy access to Industrial Internet applications and remote services in local language. Bringing the services close to customer is the key for us.
Business area we are working is very much reference business. Good deliveries and customer experience will create trust in customers and I am very happy to see that our customers are recognizing our success both on capital and service areas.
PaperASIA: What are the latest projects by Valmet in the region?
Paukkunen: We have been active in this market, bringing the latest technology services and automation to Asia Pacific customers. As a recent example, we have supplied Continuous Cooking, latest third generation technology, to an Indian pulp mill, helping the customer to achieve low water consumption and raw material efficiency in the operation.
We have delivered the key containerboard machine technologies to paper mills in this area, helping customers with their target of producing high-quality containerboard with tangible efficiency improvements to enhance their competitiveness. We also have supplied the key technologies of rebuild project and tissue production lines to the mills in Asia Pacific
Regarding the energy business, we have provided the biomass technology to energy customer to reach their targets on reducing carbon footprint, achieving greener energy production and environmentally friendlier operation.
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.
PaperASIA: The Covid-19 pandemic has affected all industries globally. How does Valmet Asia Pacific tackle the challenges caused by the pandemic in the region?
Paukkunen: On the very early phase of the pandemic we at Valmet established global-, area-, and region based Incident Management Teams (IMT)s to make sure we have all the local and global information available to serve our customers with the most fluent way.
Utilization of digital platforms to support customers remotely, quickly and securely has become the new normal of our daily business. We do have about 900 persons and 25 locations in Asia Pacific. The local presences and capability form a good foundation for us to serve the customers in this area even if the global travelling has been very limited.
PaperASIA: Last but not least, what are your hopes for Valmet Asia Pacific during your leadership?
Paukkunen: I really hope to see the further growth in the area of our customer business and hope that Valmet is able to support customers’ success as a reliable partner. I believe sustainability and climate issues will be taken seriously and hope that this is a new growing area to co-operate in the future. Definitely hope that we all together can tackle Covid-19 pandemic and be able to meet each other again. Social relationships are the part of the life that many of us are missing today.