Olli, 32, from Finland – Northvolt changed my life

Olli Lahtela, 32, has been employed at Northvolt Ett in Skellefteå for almost two months. He is among those who were enticed by the recruitment campaign in Finland in January. "Northvolt was actually the catalyst for my career change," he expresses.

Skellefteå 22 maj 2023 10:49

It is a sunny early summer day when Norran meets Olli Lahtela an hour before he is about to start his afternoon shift.

"At our workplace, there are three of us Finns, and everyone else is Swedish. It's good for me because I try to speak Swedish during coffee breaks. I'm not hopeless at Swedish, but it has been quite a while since I last spoke it," says Olli Lahtela.

Olli, originally hailing from the Finnish border town of Övertorneå, has worked in Oulu, Rovaniemi, and even Australia. With a background in the sports industry spanning six years, he says now that he never truly felt at home in that field. Seeking new horizons, Olli decided to pursue studies in energy engineering in Oulu, a course which he will complete this summer.

Since 2017, Olli has been avidly following Northvolt and harboring a deep interest in technology, electric vehicles, and particularly clean technology. It was this passion that ultimately motivated his career switch. Interestingly, Northvolt played a pivotal role in Olli's decision to return to his studies.

– I started following Northvolt on Instagram. Then I heard about their venture in the north, in Skellefteå, and being a northerner myself, it further fueled my enthusiasm, he reveals.

In fact, Olli envisioned a future for himself in Sweden.

– I downloaded language learning apps and began brushing up on my Swedish skills. Initially, I didn't anticipate securing a job here since it wasn't directly aligned with my studies in areas such as combined heat and power and wind energy."

This is how it looked on Northvolt's website after the tour to five locations was completed in January. So far, around ten people have relocated and started working at Northvolt Ett, and more are expected to join, according to the company.

Olli attended the first stop of the information tour in Oulu, and it was a close call as he nearly missed the tour completely.

– It was actually my sister who informed me. I hadn't come across any information about it on social media. I was skeptical about my chances of getting a job here, but since I had been following the developments for a long time, I thought it would be worthwhile to attend and gather more information, Olli explains.

– I was determined to apply, despite the crowded venue, which meant I couldn't speak with the company representatives who were present.

He submitted his application online, and then things quickly progressed. By the end of January, Olli received a phone call from Northvolt.

– Taking this step was a significant decision for me - leaving behind my life in Finland, with my family in Övertorneå and almost all my friends in Oulu. I have a strong ambition to pursue an international career in the energy sector.

Olli Lahtela occasionally uses the food trucks available at the Bergsbyn industrial area. "I usually ride my bike here, but some days I take the bus," he says.

Skellefteå was new to him, although he had visited Luleå many times before.

– I knew that the author Stig Larsson was born here, he chuckles. 

–I  have primarily been in Norrbotten and, of course, visited Stockholm."

Olli quickly set his sights on making himself at home in Skellefteå. The move took place in early April, and he managed to find a centrally located apartment.

– Skellefteå is my kind of city. Not too big and not too small. I live near St. Olof's Church. Northvolt provided a relocation guide that I found useful. I was fortunate. I found a 40-square-meter apartment, which is roughly the same size as my previous one."

Olli Lahtela, 32, has been employed at Northvolt Ett for a couple of months now. He made the decision to apply after attending the company's information tour in Finland. "It was a big step for me to take - leaving behind my life in Finland with my family in Övertorneå and almost all my friends in Oulu," he says.

At Northvolt, Olli works in cathode production.

–Typically, I commute to work by bike, but on certain days, I take the bus. Among our team, there are three of us Finns, while the remaining members are Swedish. This is good for me as I try to engage in Swedish conversations during our coffee breaks. While I'm not completely hopeless in Swedish, it has been quite a while since I last had regular practice, explains Olli.

He has also begun to explore the night life of Skellefteå.

– I have already visited O'Learys about half a dozen times, he smiles.

– One of the first things I did upon arriving here was to attend a Skellefteå AIK hockey game. I moved here on a Thursday and watched my first match on Saturday. The atmosphere was absolutely fantastic, and the Swedes really know how to celebrate. We Finns tend to be more reserved. I absolutely love seeing all the waving flags and hearing everyone sing, Olli says, enthusiastically.

Finnish recruitment 

Northvolt's information tour took place in five cities over three days in mid-January this year. It started in Oulu and made stops in Kokkola, Vaasa, Pori, before concluding in Turku, 65 miles further south.

Northvolt ommunications specialist Sanna Bäckström reveals that the tour resulted in over 1,000 applications.

Around ten individuals have already relocated to Skellefteå or are in the process of doing so.

According to Bäckström, hundreds are still in the recruitment process.

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