Proper Communication Skills and a Cool Head Make a Great Supervisor


Nikolai Vagapov is a supervisor at Elcoline. Nikolai, who left St. Petersburg in 2000 and moved to Finland, has over 10 years of work experience in the service and maintenance field. Over the years, he has worked with former employer and now Elcoline Piping Oy’s Business Director Maxim Helle all over Europe. Even back in the day, work meant traveling, for example, to Germany, Sweden, the Netherlands, and Switzerland. That is not to say that Finnish power plants aren’t a familiar setting to Nikolai. Because of his background and language skills, Nikolai, while a supervisor, often ends up working as an interpreter for clients and some employees as well.

“Proper communication is extremely important if you want to have successful projects. Otherwise things just don’t run smoothly—you get all kinds of distractions and extra hassle, which is a waste of time. You need to brief and train your team well and make sure that crucial information is available to everyone. It is a great asset in this job if in addition to your professional skills you have a cool head and a friendly attitude.”

When working with industrial clients, there is often a bit of haste involved, but that is exactly when the ability to remain calm comes to play. Every now and then, cultural differences need to be addressed.
“A lot of my non-Finnish coworkers have a different mindset from the Finns. You need to be able to read people and assess the situation to have everything running nicely.”


Hard work and the right attitude turned an apprentice into a supervisor

Nikolai got a sense of what it means to work hard at a young age when he traveled alongside his father, who was a metal worker. A stand-out project for Nikolai was his first big job working for Neste in 2005. It was a perfect setting for an 18-year-old who wanted to show that they knew what it means to work hard.

“This profession calls for diligence, perseverance, and teamwork skills. You need to be able to work with a crew. Right now, I have 24 people working with me on our current project. A supervisor has to be able to plan ahead, prioritize between different tasks, and hand the right duties over to the right people.”

According to Nikolai, the best part about his job is…well, everything. What makes him especially happy is the feeling he gets when a project has been completed as well as planned, without any extra difficulties.

“I really enjoy my job and the different projects we get. I also want to keep developing my professional skills, especially in leadership. At times, it’s also nice to do some ‘real work’ and squeeze into a tight spot to do some welding. You really get to see how your work turned out there, quite literally.”