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CTO Petra Lundström at Fortum Corporation has been chosen as 2012 Chief Technology Officer of the Year. Technology Academy Finland (TAF) gives the award in recognition of the work of a CTO who has made a significant contribution to the performance and growth potential of their company through technology. The winning CTO is an inspiring leader and is actively involved in professional organisations and discussion on the role played by technology in society. The CTO of the Year award is held in partnership with Spinverse Oy, Confederation of Finnish Industries EK and Sitra.
According to Yrjö Neuvo, chairman of the jury for the CTO of the Year award, this year the jury had several strong candidates to choose from.
“The leading contenders were a very even group. Everyone on the short list in the final stages was extremely competent, and the final choice always partly comes down to a question of emphasis. Petra Lundström is an outstanding example of a positive, dynamic leader who has a wide sphere of influence in Finnish business life. She possesses an extremely strong combination of competence in technology, business and management. She is a purpose-driven, innovative and inspiring chief technology officer,” says Yrjö Neuvo
The CTO of the Year 2012
Petra Lundström has worked for Fortum for more than 20 years and as chief technology officer since 2008. At the beginning of this year she was appointed vice president responsible for solar energy development. At the start of her career Lundström worked among nuclear power safety issues both in Finland and on numerous international joint projects. Lundström has a Master’s degree in Engineering Physics.
Lundström considers that major milestones in her career have been her work on developing the hydrogen control strategy for the Loviisa nuclear power plant and when she took on a broader role as technology manager for the whole of Fortum in 2005. ”During the past few years, Fortum has focused more strongly in its strategic thinking on the potential of energy technologies, and the management and evaluation of the R & D portfolio has become more systematic. The company has also been an active participant in broader-based dialogue on development prospects for the energy system. I see the CTO of the Year award at the same time as recognition for all the 200 people at Fortum who are actively involved in the company’s R & D,” she states.
Competence of Finnish CTOs stands up to international comparison
Yrjö Neuvo says that Finnish chief technology officers compete with their foreign colleagues on an equal footing. “During the past 10 years the role of the CTO has changed, with a greater focus on strategy and international activities. In the global economy, strong core competencies and language skills are a must. In future, as Asia plays a stronger role, an understanding of cultural differences will gain in importance. As new business models evolve, this will increasingly emphasize the importance of knowhow in intellectual property rights (IPR) and various partnership models,” he states.
Neuvo considers that Finns still lag behind in the areas of networking and influencing opinion, especially in international networks in the technology sector. “Finnish knowhow is highly valued, so there would be opportunities for making an international impact. Access to networks would also be easier if more CTOs had doctorates. This is especially true in the USA and western Europe.” Neuvo would like to see new Ph.D.s especially in the forest, engineering and construction industries.
Uncertain economic outlook has not yet cut into corporate R & D budgets
In connection with the CTO of the Year award, a study was conducted by Spinverse on the current state and future prospects for the CTO’s work. The CTOs from more than 70 companies replied to the survey, which was carried out in November 2011. They reported that so far the uncertain economic outlook for 2012 has not resulted in sharp cuts in their companies’ research and development budgets. Half of the respondents intend to increase their R & D expenditure in 2012, as was the case in the previous year. This year, however, the companies plan to take on far fewer R & D personnel.
In their assessment of the operations of their own companies, many CTOs think that there is room for improvement in the company’s innovation processes. More than half considered that innovators and mentors are not recognised sufficiently well within the company, and only 20 % of the companies of the respondents had defined the process for the rapid recognition and monitoring of radical innovations throughout the organization.