Finding the success factors

Finding the success factors

Pirjo Virtanen thought she had found her calling in the academic world of materials science. Now, the former Oxford visiting scientist is in command at Metso’s Metallurgical Operations and calls the whole world her workplace.

Pirjo Virtanen thought she had found her calling in the academic world of materials science. Now, the former Oxford visiting scientist is in command at Metso’s Metallurgical Operations and calls the whole world her workplace. 

Having completed her doctorate degree in materials science, Pirjo Virtanen was set on pursuing a scholarly career. However, she soon came to the realization that the business world provided more measurable opportunities.  

“My goal was to work with the best in the field and conduct research at the highest level. I realized that the business sector was the right venue for me, and applied to a handful of companies, all in eyesight from my husband’s office at the time. Metso was one of them and here I still am,” Pirjo reminisces with laughter.

It was the company’s Tampere foundry unit, better known locally as Lokomo, which was first to welcome Pirjo to Metso. This was the start of her journey at Metso, a career spanning almost twenty years. She has held various positions at the company, including local positions such as research engineer, melting shop manager and foundry director, as well as global titles such as VP of Health, Safety and Environment at Metso Minerals. Today, Pirjo Virtanen is the Vice President of Metallurgical Operations at Metso Minerals Services Global Supply Chain, as well as the site manager of the Tampere site.

Transitioning from a local role to a global role was an opportunity that Pirjo embraced wholeheartedly. Her work is about leading foundries and factories to work together towards common goals. In a global organization “going to gemba” means visits to local Metso manufacturing locations so her work takes her around the globe to meet the people that make up the tight-knit and global Metso network of colleagues. The former avid researcher and endurance sports enthusiast has maintained the same result-oriented, strategic, and forward-looking approach to her work. A true people person at heart, Pirjo also views encouragement and enthusiasm as crucial elements to success.    

“It’s all about finding the right motivation, working together, and facing and embracing challenges head on. I live by my motto ‘Hand me your worst problem and we�ll turn it into a success story’ every single day.”  

Pirjo has never seen her work alongside technical product and process solutions serving the mining industry as bound to gender. Instead, she embraces the notion that anyone, no matter their gender, race, or background, can climb the career ladder at Metso. 

“I consider myself lucky to work in a leadership position in a company like Metso and to be able to work alongside such ambitious and warm-hearted people every day,” Pirjo concludes.