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The closing of circles

Speech : The Ice Breaker  (speech nr.1, communication manual)
Toastmasters club : ”Virtual Speakers” of Espoo-Hyvinkää
Word of the day : Artful – witty, clever, in a positive or negative way

Topic: The closing of circles

I am born in south Sweden, just outside Malmö. I think of myself as a good red wine, year ’72. My mother is Finnish, my father Swedish.

At my age of 5, our family – my sister age 2, and parents move from Sweden to Finland, Vaasa – the home region of my mother.

Until 8th class, I went to a Swedish school. As I had my mothers’ parents and one of her brothers as neighbour, the language during my free time was much Finnish oriented.

If I managed to escape, I had another 2 uncles, and 4 aunts; in fact I have a crazy number of cousins; My sister, and brother – 9 years younger – we stopped counting our cousins after counting 30.

All willing to correct my Finnish grammar, without hesitation.

Just about to enter 8th grade in Vaasa, our family moved to a small town in the US, Wilton, in Connecticut. There I completed the first 3 years of high school. Out of many memories, a special one is a box of cards with 300 words. During one study semester, these were to be memorized. The first word in the pack is Artful. I still have this box.

Another good memory is the English class, where our teacher Mrs Martin had us read books and analyze. Lord of the flies, Slaughterhouse nr.5 and the cat trapped into a wall of concrete – “The Black Cat”, short novel by Edgar Allan Poe.

17 years old we moved to Gothenburg, Sweden. Here I entered a 4-year program, becoming a mechanical engineer. The program, being on its last season, gave a bonus by included automation studies. This has helped me later in life.

The return to Sweden closes the first of geographic circles – country-wise

Late fall of ’97, I get hired by Wärtsilä Sweden, as a sales assistant in the maritime market. Company being a propulsion equipment supplier in the ship building industry. Best work memory is climbing around in the engine room of large fishing vessels, taking measurements, to see do we have an engine that fits here for the purpose of re-engining.

April 2001. I accept a transfer to become a sales engineer in the sales office of Wärtsilä, in Vaasa, Finland. In practice, this meant moving from checking sales offers for the Swedish market, to be the one engineering the sales offers and contracts. For the whole of Scandinavia.

The return to Vaasa closes a second circle. Country-, and town-wise.

Let’s jump to January 2003. 4 months earlier I had shown interest to work in Saint Petersburg, which sparked a possibility for job rotation. What started as an 8-month project ended up in a 2-year stay.

Then I was back in Vaasa. It is early 2005 and I make a natural continuation as an engineer in project management. Mainly delivering engines to ship building yards in north Europe.

I had been dating a lady since April 2003 in Saint Petersburg, and in May 2005 we got married. She is born in Saint Petersburg, or what back then was Leningrad. We commute back and forth between Vaasa and SPb.

It’s April 2006. We move to Norway, to the island Bömlo, which is as far out in the Atlantic as you can get – much like the hip of ’Finland lady’ up at Vaasa. [ if you do not understand, please study the map of Finland ]

On Bömlo, Wärtsilä had acquired a propeller and shafts’ supplying factory. As a newly baked project manager, I get to see much of India, and visit Singapore and islands around a few times.

Comes autumn 2009, and the order-books in maritime business shrink dramatically as orders are cancelled. As a response to the 2nd wave after the 2008 financial crisis. Staff is warned, 10% will have to go.

I choose to take a leave-package, signalling that I will return to Finland.

My wife is pregnant, and 3 weeks after our move to Finland, our son is born in Helsinki. We are a few days short of Christmas, December 2009.

I shall here stop counting returns to Finland. However: as I have my parents and siblings in Sweden, and my wife has hers in SPb, we have noted that Finland offers a compromise. Geographically. And it is much easier to deal with the administrative state offices.

Looking for place to work, I note in a press release that Wärtsilä has signed a LOI for a JV with a Russian partner to build a diesel engine factory south of Moscow. Long story short, 3 months later, August 2010, I am in a contract to work 2 years in Moscow.

(within brackets is added after speech)

{ My part is mainly to ensure that the contractual performance of Wärtsiläs smallest engine will achieve the set targets, in the course of replacing a Russian diesel engine in a Soviet made rail yard locomotive, and after engine installation be tested on power, fuel consumption and exhaust gas emissions, as well as certified by classification society, before continuing a small series production. }

During this time, a personal achievement was taking the PMP certification.

2 years later, late 2012, we are suddenly back in Norway. I had chosen Norway, between 3 other work offers;

(these points are added after speech)

  1. a) stay in Russia and continue work 600 km south of Moscow,
  2. b) keep our apartment outside Helsinki, and work for another large company within the wood and chemical process industry,
  3. c) move to Gothenburg, Sweden, closer to my parents and siblings, however having to travel much of the year in another continent.

Thus, we land for my new work, just south of Oslo, in Moss which is towards Gothenburg. I manage projects within delivery of exhaust gas cleaning plants, to shipyards building what today are the worlds largest cruise ships sailing the seas.

3,5 years later, both my wife and I ask ourselves, why did we return to Norway. I did not take many months before I started to change as a person. 2 years later, with far too many projects in parallel resulted in me resigning, due to me not being satisfied with my own performance. After 18 years under the same corporate umbrella.

For 18 years I have worked for the same employer, and of these 10 years as a project manager. Seen the world of propulsion, and a bit of the locomotive business. Much a sitting work, weather at office or at a customer. The exiting times was when the team would visit a shipyard and see our equipment being installed on-board a ship under construction.

December 2015.

If only count the number of 2nd stage interview meetings, I have during the last 18 months been to 3 interviews. All of these having a negative return of invested time, I came to the thought that perhaps I should employ myself.  I needed to get active myself.

That, it is a matter of what do I really want to do; for what occupation do I burn.

[ As the author of Talk Like TED, who studied 500 TEDx talks, would have asked: “for what does your heart sing?” ]

I wish to conclude by stating that, as much as I would seek (and have sought) to become employed for a steady salary, with all the economical and health safety that comes with, I have – although painstakingly slowly – grown towards entrepreneurship. Which is a really an old dream come true!

Long story short, I made a long list, then shortlisted a few options. From this list, it become evident that common factors where a combination of avoiding noise and disturbance, the seeking of silence, and the means to achieve silence, combined with efficiency /performance at work and in studies lie close to heart.

However, the final trigger came by chance. From social media. I saw a photo of panel laying on the floor of a Polish hifi equipment makers sound test studio. A panel made out of wood. Had not seen the like before. I had to know what this is, what it’s for.

That whole summer I invested into reading academic papers, old and new, as well as understanding the mathematics behind the panel. How, why, what makes it work.

The panel I had seen was a PRD. In the industry commonly known as a skyline – because of the profile of a city highrisers from a distance. In another words, a diffuser panel, based on prime roots. Prime Root Diffuser, PRD.

I found within what field I wanted to work. Acoustics, and specifically the mitigation of sound. Or, as we say, the dampening of what we perceive as noise.

With these closing of circles, I hope I have shared something new about me. To have broken the ice.


About the Author.

Martin R.C. Andersson started out as a mechanical engineer, slowly developing a soft spot for project management in which he worked 10 years.
Although having resigned from a corporate career within project management, the soft spot he keeps alive through a keen interest in room environment treatment. By control of sound and light, looking to tweak for that noise-free listening… which should be a norm.
Values silence, and now and then solitude.
Thinks Mindfulness is a ‘state of being’ when work really gets done.
When thoughts flow – without disruption – to reach either a creative state or finish what’s at hand.

When the outside world is tuned out, performance is tuned in.
Feels best when Minimalism, Functionalism and Art come together, crossing paths.