What makes an in-demand expert change jobs? Software Designer Jussi Nurminen and Electronics Designer Olli Turunen talk about why they switched from safe jobs to working for a Finnish growth company – and why you should also consider a career at Kempower.
Surreptitiously, the car as we know it is currently going through the most significant change in a hundred years. As a result, many well-known car factories have already announced that they will no longer manufacture internal combustion engine vehicles in the future.
Kempower’s experts are following this change from the ground up. And they don’t just settle for following it – they’re directly involved in making it happen.
Kempower is a Finnish growth company that designs and manufactures charging solutions for various electric vehicles – cars, of course, but also buses, machinery, shipping and logistics. Lahti-based Kempower competes with international giants in its field and has responded to the market’s demand for chargers – the company’s turnover has grown by more than 1,300 per cent over the past year.
But what is it like to work in a young, fast-growing company and build products that determine the industry’s future direction?
Software designer and Kempower veteran Jussi Nurminen, and Olli Turunen, who recently joined the company as an electronic designer, will answer these questions.
Development work without the burden of the past
Jussi Nurminen, Senior Software Engineer
“When I started working at Kempower, I had never driven an electric car or even ridden in one. I heard about the vacancy from a friend of mine who worked at Kemppi on the financial side. He wasn’t even sure what kind of work I was doing but thought I might be interested in the opportunity.
At that time, I was enjoying my job as a consultant, but still decided to apply. And that’s where I still am. One of my main reasons for changing jobs was the opportunity to build something completely new.
That wish came true. Kempower was founded in January 2018, and I signed my employment contract just two months later. There were just five of us working at the company at that time. So for almost a year, I handled the software side of things mostly by myself.
In the beginning, I tried to see whether our sister company Kemppi had any computer code that we could use to program the chargers. However, I soon realized that it was better to start with a clean slate, without having to take into account any previous mistakes.
That’s when we started talking to an electronic designer about how to develop an electric car charger. In the beginning, concepts like power supply control and vehicle communication were quite alien to me. So there wasn’t a dull moment.
Compared to the work of a consultant at Kempower, I have a lot more influence on technology choices, and I am involved in choosing different components and solutions.
We always take the EV driver’s perspective into account when planning. For example, we drive Kempower’s different electric cars and test our products with them. We want to understand what kind of challenges an EV driver faces – and how we could solve them.
I once left an electric car to charge in the car park of Heinola’s Lidl supermarket when I was grocery shopping. Inside the store I started to wonder if the EV would continue charging. I thought, wouldn’t it be convenient if I could track on my phone how my car was charging.
As a result of this idea, we decided to test a QR code on the charger displays. EV drivers could follow on Kempower mobile charging curve on their phone to monitor their vehicle’s charging status in real time.
We were afraid that the charging point operators would nix our idea, but we were lucky. Kempower mobile charging curve was featured in a video by Norwegian YouTuber Bjørn Nyland (also known as Teslabjørn). Since his praise, no one has dared to refuse it, and the mobile charging curve has become surprisingly popular.
Today, there are more than a hundred employees at Kempower, and we are still growing at a rapid pace. On the software side, we have two teams: the charger software development team and another team that handles the cloud services.
I can be proud of what we have achieved in three and a half years with Kempower product family. Of course, there is still a lot to do, but we have already done things that many others would not have been able to do.”
The future isn’t set in stone
Olli Turunen, R&D Engineer
“I am proud to be involved in building a company that is becoming a major employer in my hometown of Lahti. Our success is good for the city as a whole.
Until six months ago, I was working in a good job where it was easy to be. I didn’t plan on changing jobs, but when the headhunter called me and told me about the open role at Kempower, my ambition and need to develop took precedence over the desire for comfort.
Leaving wasn’t easy, but I’ve never regretted it.
The most interesting thing about this company is that the future isn’t set in stone. Technology is evolving at a rapid pace, our products are still young, and there is room for innovation.
As a young company, we can look ahead and plan new stuff, and we don’t have to focus on maintenance and repair. We can easily implement new tools, such as a new circuit board design program.
In my work, I need access to modern tools, not the same old ones that many companies have used for years. Here, I can also take on as much responsibility as I want. My core responsibilities are electronic design, but my role has no limitations. I get to work very independently and make a difference.
Recently, I have begun to have new faith in such a relay module. So I have developed solutions to make it technically better, cheaper and easier to assemble. That work has consisted of electronic design and has also involved mechanics. It has also involved comprehensive machine building.
By no means can I do this alone. As an electronic designer, I work closely with the mechanical and software teams because we must coordinate everything. It’s a good combination: I get to make independent decisions, but friends can always ask for help and reflect on things together.
The most rewarding thing is finding a new technology or way to solve an existing problem effectively.
Because Kempower is a young company, we are all newcomers. Our team is not stuck in one place; we want to get things done.
We often catch up with our colleagues during spontaneous coffee breaks, but sometimes the pull of work is so strong that I don’t remember to have lunch. I often don’t notice how quickly time passes by.
I value our company culture’s flexibility in terms of working hours and remote working. There is no one watching what time you clock on or off and who is present.
In my previous jobs, I have become accustomed to staff turnover and that people come and go.
We have new people joining our team, but no one has left.
I understand this well because our company offers excellent opportunities to pursue any kind of career if you have the courage and hunger to grow and try something new.”