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Jonathan Bakewell on: Changes and the first three decades

Jonathan Bakewell has been at Stora Enso for 34 years. He quite often gets questions like “What’s the biggest difference since you started out?” and “Was it better in the past?” and yes, he also gets a few “three decades at the same company, what’s wrong with you?!”
However, Jonathan is still glad to be a part of this company’s mission to lead the way towards a fossil free future. Proud and inspired after all this time. That says a lot, doesn’t it? This is his Stora Enso-story and some thoughts on the major changes in our business area since 1987.

Starting out

After graduating in economics. I had a simple set of criteria for a prospective employer: I was looking for someone who would pay for my post graduate marketing studies, provide a company car and had a relatively simple product, so I did not have too much to learn. The Stora merchant in the UK at the time were the first to meet these criteria. And that was that! Since then I’ve been either buying, marketing or selling office papers at Stora Enso, in particular Multicopy. Fortunately, I did move on from that maroon -87 Ford Sierra. And I was wrong about the simple product.

Easier, but less fun

When looking back it’s easy to have rose tinted glasses; it was all so much better in the past. From a demand perspective, it was easier to sell in a rising market but where is the fun in that?! Today it’s more challenging but also more interesting. Everything moves faster and new channels of distribution appear thanks to technology. As a company, we need new products, services and ways of working to remain relevant and competitive. The irony in office paper is that the technologies which give new and improved ways of working, are the same ones that impact our demand.

Further, faster, clearer

We are all better informed than in the past and information travels further and faster which results in a pressure for faster decision making. This has meant much greater devolvement of authority than use of hierarchies employed in the past, which in turn requires greater clarity on direction and principles.

Constant change

One of the big things I have noticed in Stora Enso is the rate of change. In the past, the pace of change was slow at best – glacial at worst but now, Moore’s law* is in full effect twice as fast every 18 months and still we don’t feel that it’s fast enough… but I suppose that’s true for many businesses.

One of the best developments has been the customer interest in sustainability, which we at Stora Enso always had at our core due to our raw materials. Historically, the difficulty for us has been to explain that using virgin paper is ok, due to the consumer’s emotional attachment to trees. Happily, now there is more understanding of the fact that a growing, productive and sustainably managed forest, that is in constant renewal, is something positive.

One thing for me is that work has to be fun; it is and can be serious and difficult, but if there is no laughter or sense of achievement, then I wonder what the point is. This has not changed through the years and never will. I am having fun and I am proud to take part in Stora Enso’s journey towards a fossil free future. Even if I will probably not still be working in another 3 decades, I can’t wait to see where the renewable materials company has taken us.

* Moore’s law: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moore%27s_law

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