In ten years Jussi Kaamanen advanced from construction site management to being managing director and partner of a consulting engineer firm. At Aalto-Setälä he wants to create an open and self-steering culture, where everyone can be their genuine self.

Jussi Kaamanen is an ordinary family man whose weekdays are filled with taking the kids to various hobbies. In the summertime his time is spent at the family’s summer cottage, and he is a passionate golfer. Jussi’s career isn’t quite normal, as fortunate encounters led him to work for a consulting engineer firm where he advanced to the role of managing director in ten years.

After senior high school Jussi pursued a civil engineer education in a university of applied sciences, since the construction field felt like a natural choice. He had already worked a couple of years as an assistant on work sites where he carried materials and performed preparation tasks. After his military service he headed for school where he graduated on time
with honors.

After graduating, Jussi spent five years working as a foreman on work sites all over Finland. As time went by he felt that he didn’t want to limit himself to foreman duties. Jussi discussed his future aspirations on the sites with several people and one of the listeners happened to be an Aalto-Setälä employee. Soon after that Jussi got a call: ”We at Aalto-Setälä are in the market for a supervisor, would you be interested?”

The path to managing director was relatively short when the work sites changed into engineering consultancy

Jussi took the leap from contractor to the more composed world of a consulting engineering firm. He had been in the house for about three months when he was offered a position at the Olkiluoto nuclear powerplant work site as a building control certified engineering auditor. During these times work took a big chunk out of his spare time, and after two years Jussi sought a new direction for his career.

Jussi had been a part of Aalto-Setälä for a bit over two years when he was offered to join the partners of the company. ”Of course I will”, Jussi answered promptly. Being a partner brings along new kinds of enthusiasm as you can affect matters yourself.

Jussi hadn’t actively pursued or thought about a managerial position, as he simply thought that he might face that kind of situation at some stage. That situation arose surprisingly quickly when the company’s managing director at the time, Heikki Salpaoja, transitioned into being chairman of the board and Jussi was named the new managing director. At this time Jussi had been at Aalto-Setälä for 10 years.

Being a manager requires the ability to view things from other people’s perspective

According to Jussi, the bottom line in leading people is sensing and adjusting to various situations. Managerial work has felt natural as collaboration with people and leading was familiar since his foreman duties on work sites. There are of course challenges, but for the most part it is very pleasant. ”Pleasant things are pleasant to share with people”, Jussi laughs.

As a manager Jussi wants to be as genuine as possible, and he cherishes openness in all interactions. ”When you are your true self, others don’t have to make up anything special.” Openness and authenticity are features he appreciates in the work culture at Aalto-Setälä. As a manager, Jussi wants to be an easily approachable boss, to whom you can tell anything without having to trim the edges.

Attitude matters

According to Jussi, succeeding in his own tasks requires special attention to managing entireties as well as careful planning of time allocation. ”I usually have a clear vision of how things should be done. Then we just carry it out according to that”, Jussi says. The work also focuses on flexibility: For Jussi it’s important that the tasks are completed instead of excessive planning and second-guessing who should do them. The best moments are when you see that the customer is satisfied and you’ve managed to create value for them.

Jussi says that the best feature of the Aalto-Setälä team is the fact that the people are so like-minded. Even though there are people from various backgrounds, a good attitude is often the critical component. Everyone is connected by self-steering and the genuine urge to do the assigned work. The common morning gatherings are the moments where team spirit culminates. For Jussi it’s important to balance out office days with days spent on work sites. “Hands-on work, that’s what matters,” Jussi thinks.