*BWEEP BWEEP BWEEP BWEEP BWEEP BWEEP BWEEP*
I shut off the alarm. It’s 05:11. I have an early flight to Helsinki, and the airport express leaves in 29 minutes. Perfect calculation. I spent last night packing and even laid out all today’s clothes stacked from the innermost to the outermost. The lengths I won’t go to in order to sleep for just a few minutes more.
But let’s rewind for just a second. Why send a Norwegian trainee to Helsinki? Well, simply because the main purpose of the management trainee program is for us to learn as much as possible about Visma. In order to do that, we get re-staffed every two months. This involves a new project, new company, and new function within the group, and sometimes often a new country. The more of Visma we see during our first year, the more educated our choice of where in Visma we want to work after the trainee program finishes becomes. It also gives us a broader perspective, and enables seeing the bigger picture more clearly in whatever role we assume after the program.
The past, the present, and the future
About halfway through every project, we sit down with corporate HR, focusing on three main agenda points: How the last project went, how the current one is going, and what we want to do next. Then HR receives applications from the Visma companies and departments who want a trainee, and assigns us based on their requests, our own preferences, and professional development. Luckily, HR receives about 30-40 applications for every project round, ensuring that most of us get something we want almost every time.
Chaos is a ladder
Personally, I asked for a project with one of our smaller offices, but one with large relative growth, because I wanted to see how Visma works under less stable conditions. For a division or company with growth in high double digits, trying to establish any fixed routines or procedures is like basing next month’s weather forecast on today’s sun or rain.
The project I was assigned was being the “Main driver and deliverable owner for launching [a new product] in Finland”. The product is a fully cloud based software service we had acquired earlier, but not yet brought to Finland. As a trainee, I will obviously need a lot of help and input on many tasks, but it is still my responsibility to make sure they happen. With that in place, it was time leave the Oslo autumn sun in favor of the winter wonderland Finland had suddenly transformed into.
Sauna and other spoils of war
I was to spend the first three weeks in Finland to get closer to the people who will be involved, and not just be “some guy from corporate” telling people what to do. Having some boots on the ground always helps.
Because I was staying for so long, it was cheaper to rent a small studio apartment than a hotel room. A few days before I got to Helsinki, I got a call from the rental company telling me they had accidentally double-booked the apartment in question. The bad news was that they had to move me somewhere else. The good news was that the new apartment was 70 sqm and had its own sauna, at the original rate.
I currently live better than I have ever done before, though nothing that good ever lasts. Way too soon I will have to return to my old, crooked Oslo apartment that I share with three other people.
Planning for success (or failure)
The first few weeks have mostly been spent trying to talk to as many people as possible, such as those who know the product, the organization that will sell it, and simply the Finnish market in general. Below you can see a redacted version of the deliverable plan I suggested to my project owner, and the current status as of late November.
Hopefully, I will deliver on most of my deliverables before the end of the project, simply because whatever is left will have to be done by someone else. In any case, I really look forward to see how the product is received in Finland throughout 2017!