Employee Stories

IMSE® Grinder

IMSE® Grinder

Paavo is SVP IMSE Technology and leads our Ecosystem Management, and before this position, Paavo established and led TactoTek’s research and development function for five years. He is one of the first TactoTek employees, and since 2012 he has played an important role in our core manufacturing team as we commercialized IMSE technology. Out of working hours, Paavo is a sports enthusiast who loves food.

Paavo started working on different construction sites every summer since he was 15 years old. After finishing high school and military service, he started engineering studies at the University of Oulu in late 90s. Again, he worked all summers, but now on jobs related to his studies in electronics manufacturing. After an educational exchange student year in Germany, Paavo did his diploma thesis for Nokia Networks, but he turned down an offer of a permanent position as a component engineer.

“I wanted to see the world, and when a job opportunity in Nokia Mobile Phones sourcing was offered to me, even though it was a fixed term contract, I took it. I knew I was going to learn stuff they don't teach at school. And I truly did. Working daily on a global supply chain in Asia with likeminded mechanical engineers was an eye-opening experience. To witness what mass production of consumer electronics really meant, what was needed to solve availability issues under high pressure, and the most important lesson - how to work with people from totally different kinds of cultures - was carved into my muscle memory. Working at Nokia made daily work automatically global for me, and you were forced to think big.”

Paavo ended up working at Nokia for nearly a decade in various positions. Then the evident happened and he was going to be laid off when Nokia Mobile Phones in Oulu was basically shut down.

“Of course, it felt bad to lose a job I liked and especially to lose colleagues I had worked hard with for years, but I had many plans and options for what I was going to do. And basically, everything fell into place when I contacted TactoTek. They were looking for a guy who would ramp up production of injection molded touch panels in Asia. I felt it was a job made for me. I joined TactoTek the next day I left Nokia in 2012, and by then TactoTek had five employees. We had the ideas of our founders, a small lab, and a passion to go forward.”

Shortly after Paavo joined the team, TactoTek pivoted and the initial task assigned to Paavo changed along with the business model of the company. In the beginning, the future of TactoTek was naturally unclear, but bit by bit the focus of TactoTek started to clear up and the pioneer team was able to develop IMSE technology forward with huge leaps. Paavo describes the first years of TactoTek as a second manufacturing degree, since he was privileged to learn manufacturing processes, methods, and materials hands-on, tutored by the experts and pioneers of printed electronics and In-Mold-Label injection molding.

“Building the first IMSE production line together with my colleagues was a once in a lifetime project experience. Also, the content of working days varied constantly; I remember one occasion when I was building air condition ducts to our lab when our CTO told me that: “Paavo -You will be presenting at a conference tomorrow!” - Roger that sir, a transition from dirty plumbing work to suited up sales work was a natural thing to do, every man and woman did what was needed to do.”

Paavo’s responsibilities have grown with the company. He has always liked to work with people and considers social skills as one of his strengths. As TactoTek has grown from start-up to growth company, constant in-job learning has been needed.

“Throughout the TactoTek, years I’ve been fortunate to get more and more responsibility. From quality responsibility, I transitioned to running the manufacturing builds and reliability testing, and then establishing and leading TactoTek’s Research and development function for five years. Leading a team of highly competent and passionate specialists was a dream come true and at the same time a true leadership challenge. For whole my career I’ve been collaborating throughout the organization, from the shop floor to engineers and sales forces. It is a blessing, it forces you to create a situational awareness from operational to a strategic level and act accordingly. As the “R&D machine” was running and managing two and half years of COVID, I said to CEO that I could again learn new things and get my hands dirty in the field. And again, he listened. As we were finetuning our operations, an opportunity to build and lead IMSE Ecosystems occurred. In my newest role, I can utilize my decade of long experience in the IMSE technology, and my international network to create multi-faceted ecosystems to enable TactoTek’s mission to change the way electronics are built. And even though I am an IMSE-veteran, it doesn’t change the fact that I need to humble myself every day when I wore the TactoTek badge. We at TactoTek are in the forefront of new technology development by integrating multiple engineering disciplines and manufacturing technologies, and sometimes you get wins but sometimes you also get your ass kicked! It is a daily grind - and I love grinding!”

© Rami Valonen

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