Young talents shaping the future of UPM
UPM is running two programmes to educate and prepare young people to work at the UPM Fray Bentos pulp mill in Uruguay.
“The advantage of working with young people is that they bring energy and a youthful spirit to our experienced team. They are fast learners and open to new experiences, so they can quickly adapt to UPM’s way of working,” says Santiago Sagari, Senior Manager of Human Resources, UPM Uruguay.
The two programmes are called Jóvenes Profesionales (Young Professionals) and Jóvenes Talentos (Young Talents). The Young Professionals programme focuses on trainees with a university degree. Jóvenes Talentos is designed for people who have a bachelor degree especially on the sciences.
“The goal of these two initiatives is to train young technicians so that they reach a deep understanding of our production processes and can take an active role in the teams that operate the plant,” says Sagari.
Both programmes take one year. During the first few months students familiarise themselves with the theory of pulp and papermaking.
The other half of the programme consists of practical training, which takes from four to six months at the UPM pulp mill. During their practical training, trainees start working independently in the control room in a role corresponding to their abilities and the needs of the company.
Initially they learn the process by watching an experienced technician at work. After that, they start working under the control of their supervisor, and finally they work independently in the control room.
“The objective of each phase for students is to manage both theory and practice, and also to successfully act as a full team member. This generates an excellent working atmosphere at UPM, which is something we want to maintain and take care of,” states Sagari.
People living in Fray Bentos or other inland regions have priority access to these programmes. “One of the biggest advantages of this kind of industrial project is that we can strongly contribute to the development of cities in the central areas of the country,” affirms Sagari.
UPM launched its very first education programmes more than 10 years ago before it even started production, because it was difficult to find capable employees with the right profile. Since then more than 90 trainees have participated in the Jóvenes Talentos and Jóvenes Profesionales programmes.
Collaborating with young people poses certain challenges as well.
“New generations demand more balance between personal and working life and we, as a company, need to address that. In this respect we have also succeeded very well, because around 90% of the trainees who started these programmes are still working for the company,” says Sagari.
Sebastián Calvermater, Chemistry Technician
Sebastián was in his sixth year at high school when his teacher recommended that he participate in UPM’s “Socio por un día” programme. “We spent the whole day working with the kind of professionals that we all wanted to become one day, and I was very interested in the plant,” he explains. After finishing his studies he applied and got into the Young Professionals programme, which enabled Sebastián to return to his home town.
He started out on the fibre line and is now studying pulp bleaching. “Knowing all the mill’s operations is important because decisions taken in one area can have an impact on other parts of the plant.” He especially appreciates the good working atmosphere and the trust forged between colleagues. “Working for UPM is a continuous challenge because there are several new things to learn.”
Angelina Rostán, Work Safety Technician
Angelina started working at the plant in 2008 when she was 22. She was studying in Montevideo when her family in Fray Bentos let her know about the Young Talents programme. She decided to apply and was selected.
She worked in various production processes until she was appointed as a Security Supervisor at the plant in 2015.
Angelina says that the promotion was possible thanks to UPM’s flexibility, allowing her to combine studies and work life. She is grateful to UPM for giving employees the opportunity to move upward in the company. “Most of our managers and supervisors have been technicians at the plant in the past, but they have gradually climbed the career ladder.”
Thanks to the excellent working atmosphere she has been able to grow both professionally and personally. UPM’s flexibility also permits her to spend quality time with her family. “Nowadays I am a mother – and that is fundamental to me,” Angelina says.
Martin Alvez, Chemistry Technician
Right from his very first interview Martin was determined to convince the HR team to select him for work at the plant. When he started he was in his fourth year at high school. He liked chemistry, so after finalising his education Martin was appointed to work in the effluent treatment plant.
One of the best things about working at UPM is the good team spirit with his colleagues. “We can always discuss and share what we think in order to improve our work.” He plans to continue working in other areas to expand his knowledge.
Daniela Roldán, Undergraduate Electrical Engineer
From the moment that UPM came to Fray Bentos, Daniela wanted to work there. Her dream came true in 2015 when she successfully completed her induction programme and took a job as an operator in the field of pulp recovery.
The beginning was a challenge, not only because of all the new skills to learn, but was also because she was seven months pregnant. As she started part-time, Daniela emphasizes that the support and good attitude of her supervisors and colleagues was a key issue. She hopes to continue improving her skills at UPM because “there is still a lot to learn to gain more experience.”
Jonathan Ragghianti, Environmental Technician
Jonathan has worked for UPM Forestal Oriental since 2008 as a logistics operator guiding incoming traffic arriving at the plant. In 2012 he applied to join the Young Professionals programme for the first time. “I wasn’t fully prepared back then, but I took it as an opportunity to develop my skills further. I knew I would have another chance later because UPM is a company that gives us opportunities to grow,” Jonathan comments.
In January 2014 he joined the environment group at the plant. Now Jonathan applies all the skills he learned in the programme and is continuing to improve his knowledge in a team that coordinates environmental affairs across the entire company.
Text: Vesa Puoskari