Following in her father’s footsteps, Irma started working at the Uusikaupunki car plant in the early 1980s and has seen the plant’s ups and downs. Along the way, the company name has changed, and she has had many jobs, but Irma’s 43-year career is a showcase to perseverance and commitment. The promise of doing her job well, redeemed repeatedly, has led to Irma’s progress and growth as her career has taken her from sewing plant to HR specialist and from car plant to battery plant.


To work at the car plant

Irma’s first experience of Valmet Automotive’s car plant was through her father, who worked for 20 years as a contractor at the car plant. Irma ended up with him for summer jobs in maintenance and repair work in the Uusikaupunki archipelago, where the company had cottages for employees at the time.

  • Through my father, after some resistance, I ended up at a car plant myself. In the early 1980s, I started in the Kalanti sewing plant, where we sewed seat covers, headrests and floor mats for cars. We had a great team, and I still have friends from those days. As the workload increased, we were moved to a component plant. Then I saw an advertisement for a job as an archivist in the so-called big plant and in 1988 I started in this position at the Uusikaupunki car plant. My duties included not only filing, but also mail handling and sorting. The mail was delivered via cycle couriers and tube mail, and I delivered the mail to the offices myself. In my job, I went around the plant and got to know many people, Irma recalls.


Downhill and uphill

The volatility of the business environment and the sector has been reflected in personnel reductions. For example, the recession that started in 1992 came as a surprise to everyone. However, Irma has never been idle and has spent her time training and developing herself.

  • When I was made first laid off and then my work contract was ended, I decided to make the most of the time and get some additional training. I also worked for short periods at Health Center in Laitila and the City of Uusikaupunki. It was nice to get work experience from the municipal side and in accounting and invoicing. I returned to the car plant in 1996, when the Samara production started, and worked as a quality measurer.

A couple of years later, Irma was asked if she wanted a job in payroll. It was a completely new job for her, and she took up the challenge. The work was largely manual, and the team consisted of experts who taught her. There were about 10 people working in payroll at the time and Irma says you can’t have a better team for payroll.

  • I had a degree in business administration, but during the 2003 layoffs I started a master’s degree in business administration in Turku. When I returned to work, I completed my training remotely. I remember that the final exam coincided with the day of the financial statements at work, and I still completed the training with good grades.

From payroll, Irma moved to HR department. Her duties now included reviewing job applications and contacting people for interviews, managing catering reservations and working with partners. Later the job was extended to the plant’s health center, where she was responsible for booking appointments and invoicing.

When Valmet Automotive’s employees were transferred to Metso for a while, Irma returned to the HR department to replace a retiring colleague.

  • I started studying for a double degree in secretarial work in 2013, while doing payroll and participating in a project to implement a new payroll system. My then supervisor always believed in me and reassured me that anything was possible, and everything would work out. Gradually, our team started to grow. Work had been hectic, so in 2018 I took a longer holiday and a rotational leave.


People and versatile jobs

Irma continued to work in the car plant’s HR department payroll team. Decades of work experience and knowledge have been noted in the company.

Irma’s work at the car plant came to a wistful end in 2023, when the team remembered her with gifts. However, after just a few months, her mind wandered back to work – missing the people and her most enjoyable part of the job, the time tracking system. Irma attended training courses through her employer’s changeover scheme. Encouraged by a personal assistant, she applied for a job at Valmet Automotive’s battery plant while on the verge of retirement, and now she works there for 3-4 days a week in HR.

  • It is wonderful to see familiar faces and old colleagues in the plant. When I’m in the office, I always walk through the production area to get to work, even if there is an alternative route. It’s nice to say hello, hug and catch up with people on the way.


Thankful for opportunities and career

Irma is an easily approachable and smiling personality. She believes that a helpful and positive attitude will get you far. Throughout her career, Irma has been asked many times to take on different jobs and her skills have been trusted. Along the way, she has had good, supportive supervisors with whom she has been able to talk openly. There has always been flexibility in both directions.

Irma says the best thing about her job is the people and her colleagues and she sends her best regards to both management and production. Even when times are challenging, you can get through with a positive attitude, you always get back up, even if it’s sometimes harder. Never lose hope, says Irma.

  • During these 43 years, I have never lost faith in the car plant. Our personnel are cared for and looked after, we have also many employee benefits available. Myself, I weave, and we have had all sorts of sports with company teams and joint events. Our work community has evolved a lot over the years and the supervisors have become closer, we are all the same and the culture of open discussion has improved. We are a very special player in our industry and the workplace has always been important to me, a bit like my own family. The people, the familiar and safe environment and the sense of community have always kept me coming back to Valmet Automotive.


Irma is a well-liked and respected colleague, trainer, and a smiling face in her work community. Her career path is unique, but it shows to us all how you can go a long way with an attitude and by doing the job well.