Sustainable Leader: Risto Hovi

Meet another one of our Sustainable Leaders, Risto Hovi who works as Managing Director in Finland. We interviewed him about Sustainable Leadership and what it means to him.

In your opinion - what identifies a Sustainable Leader?

First of all, a Sustainable Leader puts safety first at all times and shows a keen interest to develop safety culture, in words as well as in actions.

You need to identify and develop talents for the future, have a goal to hire people that are smarter than you. Be open, humble and frank in your communication and, if you want to drive change, don’t lift yourself higher than others, meet people on their level. The challenge here is that you need to be genuine doing this, and not everybody can do that as you are partly born with the ability and the consciously become better and better at it.

What do you do to be a Sustainable Leader at BillerudKorsnäs?

I see it my responsibility to nurture talents, help them grow and be available for them; I use a lot a saying: “a leader is the most important resource that people reporting to him/her have”, I need to be a mentor and an enabler for them. Having over 30 years of experience, success stories and failures that I have learned from helps, of course. All that has made me the person I am today.

Having a positive attitude and being able to create a positive atmosphere helps with promoting change and basically helps in everything.

Another important factor is resilience (ability to adjust and thrive in an environment that changes in a fast pace). I’m very lucky to have a management team where all the members have a high resilience profile (we’ve all been tested). So high that we as a management team need to be careful not to implement change too fast – not everyone in the mill has so high resilience.

Play with words. Our management team uses the Finnish word “Hinku” that does not have a synonym in English or Swedish (not that I know at least). It is best described with “passion with a firm direction”. Then we say: “hinku olla paras” which means “we have a passion with definitive direction to be the best in the field”. The beauty of Finnish language is that you can load a bunch of meanings into a few words…