Fenno People
Fennovoiman suunnittelu- ja kehittämispäällikkö Peter Härkönen

Photo by Junnu Lusa

Multicultural megaproject

In his work, Petter Härkönen, Fennovoima’s Senior Program Development Manager, is pleading the case of Finland and the environment.

Petter Härkönen, Senior Program Development Manager, describes his planning work at Fennovoima as a Megaproject with a capital “M”.

Härkönen works in a four-person team of engineers with  background in projects. They are in charge of long-term program planning as a whole and annual planning, as well as the organizational and development, project-level reporting and risk management.

Härkönen, M. Sc. (Civil Engineering), started his work at Fennovoima in 2012. He was the head of the Project Management Office at first. Little by little, his work has evolved into strategic development of the company and the project.

“In an unsure world, planning is a way of trying to guide the future and enable management even if something unexpected happens.”

Härkönen says that Fennovoima is developing gradually to the intended direction.

“We have a vision which tells us where we are going, a mission which tells us what we must do, and several strategic goals. The strategy is developed within a specific framework.”

Project Manager shows the way

Fennovoima will invest more in development work in 2019. Timo Okkonen, D.Sc. (Tech.), recently started his work as the Chief Development Officer of Fennovoima. Härkönen will be reporting to Okkonen from now on.

“Now we have more power in development work and more nuclear sector expertise.”

Härkönen’s work involves all the issues that matter in terms of the completion of the Hanhikivi 1 project.

“We have also started preparations and planning for the operational phase.”

In addition to internal project reports, the team is in charge of reporting to the Finnish Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority and the owners of the company.

Härkönen’s team also bears overall responsibility for the company’s risk management system, which mainly focuses on corporate and project risks. Related data and facts come from responsible persons in different parts of the company.

However, the assessment and management of nuclear safety risks belong to the relevant experts.

“An expert wants facts and analyses before giving their opinion, while a project manager starts by determining the goals and then plans the path to achieve the goals. You must be able to combine these two in our work.”

Advocate for Finland

Härkönen says that he is a “construction dude.” During his career, he has been working all around the world in Lemminkäinen’s projects.

“I’ve been managing projects for more than thirty years now. I spent the first ten years with paper mill projects, and after that I’ve been involved in a variety of industrial and mobile network projects.”

Härkönen and his family have lived in England, France, Russia, Hungary, and Brazil because of his work assignments. In addition, he  spent years travelling continuously on business in the Nordic countries and Ukraine, among other locations.

“When set in proportion to the project period, large industrial investment projects, such as forest industry projects, are of the same magnitude as this nuclear power plant project – about one billion euros in a couple of years.”

He feels that in his current position, he is working for Finland, which needs both more energy and a reduced carbon footprint.

Respectful behavior helps when dealing with people

Fennovoima is continuously recruiting people, and they come from a variety of backgrounds and company cultures.  Working in an organization with people from dozens of nationalities is nothing new to Härkönen. Nevertheless, multiculturalism can make project management more challenging.

On the other hand, Härkönen has been living a multicultural life both at work and at home throughout his career.

“My spouse is French, which means that our children are half French and attended French schools in many countries during our travelling years. Our younger son is still studying at Aalto University and the older one is a postgraduate aiming for a PhD in the United States.”

Härkönen describes himself as an easily accessible person. The door to his office is almost always open, and he encourages people to visit even if it is closed.

“Normal, polite and respectful behavior helps when meeting people.”

Härkönen says that people in Finland are used to giving experts the opportunity to make decisions and take on responsibility.

“But there are cultures where employers are required to give more direction. You must also be able to understand and manage people who are used to a different kind of hierarchy and communicating.”

Gardening plans

Härkönen’s family always moved with him from one country to the next, depending on Härkönen’s assignments, before settling down in Kerava, Finland, 15 years ago.

“For a long time, my work included weekly visits to several European countries. As my current job description mostly consists of corporate management duties, I no longer have to travel on business all the time.”

His children’s studies give Härkönen a good reason to travel on leisure, though. In the past few years, he has visited Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea, and most recently United States this fall.

Living in Kerava in a detached house, Härkönen can now also focus on his second favorite hobby, gardening.

“It’s a great counterbalance to work and it’s relaxing, as long as I keep the projects small enough."

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