How did you come in contact with Ovako, and what has your journey within Ovako looked like?
The first time I came in contact with Ovako was through a study trip with the university in 2010, and the same summer I got a summer job on a project surveying billet lengths. A year later, once I graduated, I got a job as a process metallurgist at Ovako in Smedjebacken. The job was perfectly in line with what I had studied, and on the study trip the year before I had decided I liked Smedjebacken. In 2014 I took on a project co-manager role when the investment was being made in continuous casting, and became a big part of the project. During my years at Ovako, I have got to know the steel mill very well, so when a colleague was going on paternity leave just over two years ago I was asked if I wanted to be the acting manager. I’ve been the regular steel mill manager at Ovako in Smedjebacken since 2017.
What makes you a good leader?
I see it as an important part of my role to support and listen to my co-workers' opinions and to connect the everyday with my overall goals and those of the company. Everyone can get involved and have an influence and develop at Ovako, and I always try to encourage my co-workers to take part. This usually makes it even more fun to go to work and energize our co-workers. It’s also about building up patience when I notice that my co-workers are losing their drive, which obviously happens sometimes. Things can take time to fall into place, but with a fighting spirit and patience it usually happens, a good idea is always a good idea. By diving deep into the production, I always try, together with my co-workers, to identify improvement potential for how we can make our business more efficient.
What do you think are the most common preconceptions people have about the steel industry?
I think many people associate the words steel industry with a man’s job and dirt. There is a history to how people look at steel production. For example, it was only men who worked in the profession before. What many people miss is how far the steel industry has developed over the past 40 years in terms of process development, which has laid the ground for continuous improvement in many areas such as health and safety, processes and the environment.
If you look at Ovako, we are just one great big recycler since all our production is based on steel scrap. In terms of energy, the steel industry contributes surplus heat to district heating systems in the community, and we can even make use of most of our residual products, which are either recycled or reused. For example, slag can be used for asphalt paving the prevent the quarrying of new stone chips.
How can we attract more women into the steel industry?
There has already been an improvement in the proportion of women since I started in the steel industry, but of course I hope there will be even more of us in the future. The industry has historically been male dominated given that production was heavy and demanded a lot of physical strength. But with today's technology increasingly large parts of the production are machine-controlled, which opens up the possibility of a more even gender distribution. I think we have to continue to promote knowledge of the steel industry among young people even earlier, and show that there are opportunities in the industry that suit everyone.