5 minute read 8 Mar 2019
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How disruption demands diversity

By

Cyntressa Dickey

EY Americas People Advisory Services – Energy Leader

Transformation advisor to leading energy and other Fortune 500 companies. Passionate advocate for diversity, inclusion and equity. Chemical engineer. Committed to fitness and Atlanta Bootcamp.

5 minute read 8 Mar 2019

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Despite slow progress in increasing gender diverse leadership within utilities, Tiina Tuomela is confident that change is coming.

Executive Vice President, Generation at Finnish energy giant Fortum Tiina Tuomela, says she finally sees more women making it to senior roles.

“We’ve seen consistent work by companies, across the industry and by individual women, that is starting to make a real difference in diversity. The exciting, rapid transformation of today's energy industry is also attracting more women.

“There are so many things happening, including the new flexibility of assets, demand response, digitalization and different consumer solutions. It’s interesting that for young people, the industry’s development fits with their desire to make the world a better place.”

Navigating disruption requires different perspectives

Energy has always appealed to Tuomela, who studied engineering. “Energy is such a big part of our everyday life — from the morning when you turn on the coffee machine to the evening, when you switch on the lights. There are so many dimensions of it: from global megatrends to engineering and plant operations to trading and political decision-making.”

Tuomela says diversity of perspectives becomes more important when tackling such disruptive megatrends as climate change, urbanization and digital technologies.

“I strongly believe that the more diversity you have in your team, the more diverse viewpoints you’ll get. It’s important to have a wide variety of people with differences in age, education, background and gender.”

Tuomela says she realized that women often ask different questions. "Also, their leadership style is often different. Good people skills are critical when you are leading change.”

I strongly believe that the more diversity you have in your team, the more diverse viewpoints you’ll get.
Tiina Toumela,
Executive Vice President, Generation, Fortum

Why Fortum ranks highly for gender diversity

Fortum is a consistently strong performer in the EY Women in Power and Utilities Index. In our latest report, the company ranked in 16th place for diversity globally and 7th place for diversity in Europe. The global ranking represents an increase of five places from the previous report.

Tuomela says Fortum embeds diversity across the business.

“Fortum and its leaders are committed to diversity in all forms. It’s emphasized in our code of conduct and in our framework for choosing board members. Our most recent past chair of the board was a woman, who is a strong and widely recognized role model. Our values and open leadership principles stress the importance of a diverse and inclusive corporate culture and empower our people to believe in themselves. We lead according to those principles.”

Fortum also runs leadership programs and mentoring initiatives to encourage women with leadership potential.

The company also recently joined the gender initiative presented by C3E at the 9th Clean Energy Ministerial. The initiative, which is linked to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, targets equality in pay, opportunity and leadership to 2030.

Experience across the energy sector can boost careers

Tuomela’s own journey to leadership has not been a straight path, and she credits her varied experience across the business as helpful in many ways. Tuomela has worked as a controller, as well as in investments and projects, and her experience spans nuclear, hydro, thermal and trading.

“I didn’t plan to have this role. But I was given lots of opportunities to take different positions — I’m open to going outside my comfort zones. I thought ‘if I don’t know everything, now I can learn.’

“I tell other women not only to seek higher positions but also consider making horizontal moves to gain experience in a different role or a different part of the organization. Be open and curious to learning new things.”

Tuomela is serving on the board of directors of three other companies — construction company YIT, nuclear power company Teollisuuden Voima Oyj and hydroelectric utility Kemijoki Oy, of which she is the chair.

“This has broadened my view. I see how megatrends are affecting other industries, and I gain new ideas and insights. Personally, it also helps me to consider how I could better present and argue my own cases with Fortum's board of directors.”

I tell other women not only to seek higher positions but also consider making horizontal moves to gain experience in a different role or a different part of the organization.
Tiina Toumela,
Executive Vice President, Generation, Fortum

Don’t be afraid of mistakes

Tuomela says that having excellent bosses has been critical to her career. She also gives special credit to an external female mentor, who provided insight and constantly reminded her to stop and take stock of her own ambitions. “I was so focused on delivering results in my job, I didn't stop to define what I wanted. My mentor helped me do that, and to consider the capabilities I would need to achieve it.”

Tuomela says one of the most important pieces of guidance received from a mentor was that “mistakes are not that dangerous — you learn and go forward.” It’s advice she passes on to the young women she mentors now. For those who want a senior operational role such as hers, she advises them to get into the operational side of the business early.

“Strengthen your capabilities and build your networks. Men are good at that — and women need to get better at it, building networks that include not just other women but those beyond your own industry.”

Mentoring is “energizing” to Tuomela, who values the opportunity to get insights into the next generation of female leaders. “These women were born into the megatrends shaping our industry. They are open, capable and ready to make different career choices that reflect a greater work-life balance. They are driven by a deeper purpose to shape their world, which fits with Fortum’s vision to drive the change for a cleaner world.

“As an employer, we need to recognize that and ask ourselves, “How do we attract this younger generation and then inspire them to stay?”

 

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Summary

Tiina Tuomela, Executive Vice President, Generation at Fortum Energy, explains why the Finnish utility is a consistent top performer in our Women in P&U Index.

About this article

By

Cyntressa Dickey

EY Americas People Advisory Services – Energy Leader

Transformation advisor to leading energy and other Fortune 500 companies. Passionate advocate for diversity, inclusion and equity. Chemical engineer. Committed to fitness and Atlanta Bootcamp.