In a personal interview Mikko Mertaniemi

I joined Terramare in May 1998. I had worked in a similar job for a couple of years in a smaller dredging company. At that time, Terramare was already the clear market leader in the dredging industry throughout the Nordic countries, and it had a really appealing reputation as an employer. In addition, I was at that time already interested in job opportunities in an international working community. The legendary Jarmo Lind was the site manager at a site in Kokkola. I called him and asked if there was a chance I could come to work in Terramare. The Kokkola construction site was one of the most significant in Terramare’s entire history. Due to the special features of the site, a remote-controlled dredger and barges were used there. I got the job and started on the Kahmari 1 grab dredger as a junior operator, with the experienced dredger operator Manu Rönkkö as a workmate. Later, I came to understand his strength as the colleague and mentor of someone young and inexperienced. I was fortunate in that situation.

Currently, I work as a dredger master. My responsibilities include managing the dredger’s operational activities as well as vessel coordination. A dredger works 24/7 and I, for my part, ensure that the work also progresses throughout the night. I am in close contact with other vessels and project management in production-related matters. In issues related to the maintenance of vessels, I work together with the plant department’s maintenance engineers. An integral part of my work is reporting vessel activities to both the project and the plant department.

As mentioned, I started as a junior operator on a grab dredger. For the first few years, I was the working partner of a more experienced operator on several different vessels. As my expertise increased, I was given more responsibility as well as new people as my work partners. In 2009, I was asked whether I was interested in becoming a work supervisor. Initially, I was a work management trainee and then soon a work supervisor on a dredger. As my experience has grown, I have had various jobs, including positions in the project organisation. In recent years, I have moved on to more international duties, and I now work on the parent company’s vessels as a dredger master in an international working community.

Technical knowledge of the equipment and its operation is important in my work. The efficient operation of equipment requires know-how and skills from its users. I work as part of a team consisting of top professionals. Our vessel employs earth construction machinery drivers, fitters, welders and seafaring professionals. My role is to take care of the whole package and to ensure and enable the smooth working of the crew. As tools for reporting and vessel management, I use a computer and various mobile applications on a daily basis. The working language is English, but other languages such as Swedish, Dutch and Russian are also regularly used in daily communication.

After the army, I studied to be an earth construction machine driver. The studies included a period of on-the-job training, and I was asked whether I was interested in training for dredger work. I asked a little about the industry and the machines, and I found myself interested in large machines and the special work environment. After the training, I asked about the possibility of continuing to work in the company in question.

Terramare has enabled me to advance in my career. I have been able to work in many different countries and in dozens of different projects. In these, I have worked with highly professional people. I continue to have a great interest in big machines. On a dredger, the machines are on a scale not seen in other environments. Developing matters and learning something new has always been my passion. Here I get to fulfil myself daily in developing the equipment.

Developing new operating models and the impact they have make my daily work interesting and rewarding. 

On the dredger, we work in periods. Period work allows work to be counterbalanced by long free spells. This provides a lot of opportunities to spend time with family and for leisure activities.

My working day typically begins at half past six in the morning. We work 12-hour shifts. The day includes a number of regularly repeated tasks, but my work is still very varied and every day is different. I can also influence to a large extent how my day is made up. I have always had a keen interest in sports and exercise, and I ride a bicycle to work daily whenever possible. In the evenings, I still have time to enjoy some favourite pastime or other. Terramare also encourages its employees to exercise often in different ways.

When I started over twenty years ago as a young and enthusiastic excavator driver, I had no idea about all the things I was going to experience. I had high expectations, and in time I found myself in a top team. Terramare has developed the entire industry enormously and has always been a pathfinder in the marine construction sector. Now, enriched by many experiences, and still as enthusiastic, I can say that Terramare has proved to be an employer worthy of its reputation.