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A journey called the GROW Sustainability Project

Mea Mäkijärvi is one of Stora Enso’s GROW Global Trainees, who started their journey in September 2015. The GROW Global Trainee Programme is a unique opportunity to work full time at Stora Enso in a permanent position while attending world-class strategy and leadership modules at IMD Business School. Trainees also engage in real-life transformation projects in the company to support top management. The Programme ends in December 2016, and the next Programme will begin in September 2017.  Read Mea’s text about the trainee sustainability project here.
3 weeks, 62 units, 26 tired (but happy!) trainees, and 2 final presentations. This is a story of how I experienced one of our last trainee modules and how we all at Stora Enso can make a difference in the communities we operate in.
At 7:30 am on Friday 29 April I was in the Kanavaranta HQ auditorium, preparing for a presentation as if it would have been a big sports competition. There was motivational music blasting from the speakers, team spirit exercises, high adrenaline, and a final run-through. What on earth was this all about? Let’s take a look back at how us trainees ended up talking about CCI, an abbreviation of Corporate Community Investment, to two top audiences that particular morning and what had happened in the weeks prior to the presentations.
Hearing about CCI for the first time
The GROW Sustainability Project 2016 was kicked off during our second IMD module back in February. Noel Morrin (EVP, Sustainability) told us that he needed our help with one of the ten areas of our Sustainability Agenda: community. It would be our task to talk to 62 Stora Enso units worldwide and find out what they currently do for the communities they are located in. The communities are important to Stora Enso for several reasons: first of all, we need a license to operate in that given region. Second, we need raw materials and skilled workforce around our operations. At the time, I didn’t really understand, what our study would lead to, but the topic seemed interesting. I was also happy to hear that we had support and tools from London Benchmarking Group, an organisation that is specialised in measuring companies’ CCI efforts.
Local community work in Uruguay and Poland
During my pre-assignment at Kanavaranta HQ, I became familiar with how to find the right people and information we need. The project weeks started with us getting to know the sustainability and community work that has been done at Stora Enso’s Montes del Plata joint venture in Uruguay through a 4-day bus tour around various MdP locations. The biggest learning for me was a new level of theoretical understanding, as well as practical examples of CCI. I also learned to always ask WHAT FOR. This means aligning the CCI activities and projects with enhancement of the positive and mitigation of the negative impacts our company has in that particular community. It was very inspiring to see how far MdP has come in implementing sustainability throughout the entire value chain from plantations to the mill; a true benchmark case for all of us.
After some eventful travel experiences, my project pair Anna Scheinin and I finally arrived in Poland - our destination for project week 2. We visited Tychy mill and Murow sawmill and learned how different our units are regarding their relationship to the surrounding communities. In some cases Stora Enso is a significant player and employer, whereas in other places we are small compared to other companies. Other pairs visited other Stora Enso units, and we kept in touch via the trainee WhatsApp group.
The third and final week in Kanavaranta was all about bringing a massive amount of information together and making an impactful presentation of our findings for the GLT and the Sustainability Performance Network. It was very interesting to compare our experiences in various units and hear about the great community projects that have already been done.
A team effort
I believe I’m talking on behalf of all trainees when wanting to thank Tiina Tammenpää (Director, Employer Branding and Leadership Development) and Noel Morrin for giving us such an inspiring assignment, and also all the contacts at the 62 visited units for sharing their insights and time! Getting to know the topic of CCI better reminded me of how we can live up to our common purpose of “Do good for the people and the planet”. Let’s all take the initiative and put forward new ideas on how we can work together with the communities around us and make sure to share the best practices!
Last but not least: Check #storaensoGROW for more pictures of the project and our trainee experience in general. In case you have any further questions about CCI or our experience at Stora Enso so far, feel free to talk to any GROW trainee!

Mea Mäkijärvi, GROW trainee at Wood Supply Finland