José Martins works at Fennovoima as Quality Control Manager. When I first met him, I noticed at once his radiant smile and friendly manner of communication. His team is growing fast, so I’ve talked to him about his management style, his team and advice for job candidates.
José, how did you end up in Finland?
My wife is Finnish. We met in China, then lived in Portugal for some years, then, in 2002, we decided to come and try to live in Finland. We stayed and my children were born here.
What do you think of living here?
I’ve been in Finland so many years, so I’m partly Finnish in my heart. I like it. It’s safe and quiet, with beautiful nature. Somehow, I’ve found my home here.
In Finland you have its capital with specific lifestyle and then you have the whole rest of the country with a different way of life. When you go to Pyhäjoki, you can feel that the rhythm, the way people talk is different. In Helsinki people may speak more, while in Pyhäjoki they are more reserved, but still friendly.
I noticed that you speak fluent Finnish…
Yes. It took me some time to learn it, but the important thing is to practice. Still, my Finnish is not perfect, there is always room for improvement.
When I checked your working calendar, I could see that you travel a lot. Why is it so?
Last year I traveled more than this year. We’ve been visiting our manufacturers to check how they arrange things and prepare for the Hanhikivi 1 project. Also, I travel every month to the construction site. I feel that it’s important to go there and to know the people. That’s where the future is going to be. I really enjoy going there. It motivates me because I see the place where everything is going to happen.
Could you also tell me about your team? I know that it’s growing.
This year was a year of change. We are nine persons now and have plans to be around sixty in the future. The most important thing with the quality control is the independence and impartiality. This way we can be sure that the product fulfils the requirements. Quality control keeps some distance from design solutions or project progress. The job of the quality control is not to say whether the design is good or not, that’s for the engineering to do. Our job is to check if the product fulfils the requirements set in the design.
When you recruit new people, who are you looking for?
Inspectors are pessimists by nature, they need to see threats and risks. I’m looking for determination, focus, expertise and courage. During the inspections, persons will be subject to pressure from suppliers because some of their decisions may have a significant impact on schedule. Inspectors need to have a strong personality and an excellent understanding of their role.
Maybe it’s not the position for the light-hearted, because at construction sites you need to have resilience. Still, you can be friendly and keep confidence in your work at the same time.
How would you characterize your supervisor style? How do you manage those resilient and strong people?
Our team is still young, we are still finding our ways. My style is proactive. I believe that the secret to success is preparation. Whenever we have meetings with authorities or suppliers, we prepare internally very carefully. When we go to a meeting, we have a plan. We are focused and ready for things. We have a vision that is shared with everyone in the team.
My job is to take care of persons who can produce the best they have in them. My top task is supporting people and giving them the strategy and vision so that they could perform the best they can.
I don’t like to micromanage, I prefer to give space to people to bring solutions.
What happens if someone disagrees with you?
Disagreements are the seeds of our success! I appreciate persons who disagree because usually they help me to get a new perspective. My worse nightmare is to have only “yes-men” around me who agree with everything I say. I think, an essential part of safety culture is a team that has a space for their opinions without being punished or judged. I may be emotional when I present things, but I’m learning how to give space to others.
Our team is multicultural, we have 7 nationalities: Portuguese, French, Bulgarian, German, Russian, Estonian and Finnish. Often we have disagreements because everyone has different experience, but I see that as a good thing.
What advice would you give to candidates who are considering whether to apply for your team?
Don’t be shy. Be ready to work hard, we are demanding. Be determined.
In our team, we use four principles. First, don’t be late. Second, remember the elephant. Building a nuclear power plant may be a big elephant, and you need to chop it down to small pieces and eat one piece at a time. Third, bring solutions. I try to encourage all team members to bring not only problems, but proposals how to solve them. Fourth, keep your eye “on the ball”. This means, focus on the things we are handling and can influence.
Our team spirit is good and we really value difference, experience and openness.