This is my final editorial for Valio Foods&Functionals and I write it acknowledging that I’ve been privileged to spend almost half of my career working in the field of Technology Sales at Valio Ltd.
It could be described as the story of a shy Finnish country boy who went on to work in international business. I was fortunate that just a few months after I joined Valio in 1980 the company organized a one-month training course on Fermented Milks for the FAO with participants from more than 10 countries around the world. I remember meeting one of them again 20 years later in South America working for an LGG® customer dairy company.
Perhaps my second most formative lesson, this time specifically about cultures (both human and dairy!), came when I was a member of a team of specialists attending a two-week training course in China. It took place in part at a working dairy plant in central Beijing from which yoghurt was being distributed by bicycle. Ten years later the area was completely rebuilt and packed with skyscrapers.
When I started in technology licensing, Valio had already experienced the first and fastest wave of growth of the probiotic dairy market. With the guidance of Professor Kari Salminen, Mr Jaakko Lehtonen, Mr Juhani Ristaniemi, Dr Maija Saxelin and many others I learned more about the principles of the business and how to answer questions from our customers. Fortunately, I’d attended many of the meetings with our LGG® customers before starting to work exclusively for the Technology Sales group back in October 1998.
I want to thank all our customers. I’ve learned so much working with you. Perhaps most importantly that people are the same wherever you go. We may have different cultural and educational backgrounds but most of our values in life are the same.
I also want to thank readers of Valio Foods&Functionals. One of the things I’ve enjoyed most is being Editor of this publication and in the early days I wrote some of the articles, too. Recently it’s been more about collating ideas. I hope you have enjoyed reading what we’ve put together for you.
And my plans for the future? Simply to continue enjoying life and time with my loved ones, and I hope you’re doing the same! Don’t forget you may well have a friend in Finland who remembers you warmly!