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“Nothing is constant except change.” Insights on leading a rapidly growing company

When I first joined Kempower in 2019, we were still a start-up. However, fast forward to today, and we are now a listed company, with revenue of EUR 200 million already achieved this year and a team of over 600 Kempowerians. 

Our extraordinary growth in such a short time is no accident – it’s the result of the hard work of a dedicated team and rigorous forward planning. As fantastic as this rapid growth journey has been for me, it also hasn’t been easy. I’ve evolved alongside the business, which has left me with valuable insights about leadership I’d like to share with you. 

Taking the first step 

When I first received the call offering me the opportunity to join Kempower, I was already working in emobility sector for a Danish technology company in global leadership role. I had also been part of the start-up space prior to acquisition of our Finnish electric drivetrain company by a large corporation, so I had plenty of experience preparing me for the role. Nevertheless, I still had to consider the decision carefully. 

Firstly, I was unsure whether I wanted to work for another start-up, having witnessed the uncertainty that businesses endure during this early stage. Moreover, many electrification businesses were springing up at this point in time, and I knew not all of them would survive in a competitive market. 

But Kempower stood out as something special. Despite being a start-up, it had more security than most competitors, thanks to being part of the Kemppi family. Solid foundations were in place for business success, such as the right tools to attract funding and support structures, such as HR and finance. And I’ve not even mentioned the exciting technology yet! I believed Kempower could realize its exciting potential and grow into a leading e-mobility company. Joining the company was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up. 

Planning for change 

We have a saying at Kempower: “Nothing is constant except change.” This is something I’ve definitely witnessed during my time here. We understand that change is inevitable, so we want to be the ones to drive it rather than letting it control us. 

We do this by strategizing. We keep our options open and plan for every positive and negative scenario. For example, if a market doesn’t grow as quickly as predicted, we have a plan. On the flip side, we’re also prepared for huge growth in that market. It is easy to only focus on the risks, but planning ahead successfully means planning for both good and bad eventualities.  

I appreciate how rare it is for manufacturing companies to grow as fast as we have, and we aren’t complacent about it. The only way to keep up this rapid growth is to plan ahead. 

Putting plans into action 

Our impressive figures may make our achievements look easy. However, we can overcome challenges and keep growing because of constant market research and preparation for every eventuality. 

One example of our plans being tested was back in the summer of 2020 when we powered our first large bus site in Malmö, Sweden. Home to over 90 Kempower fast charging points in single site, it was the biggest electric bus depot in the Nordics when it opened. This was one of our milestone achievements. Yet, it took place during the height of COVID restrictions, meaning we had to commission it totally remotely from Finland. The fact that we successfully rolled out this significant project, having been thrown a massive curveball in the form of a global pandemic, is a testament to our forward-planning capabilities. 

In fact, we’re still facing fallout from the disruption to global supply chains caused by the COVID pandemic, with component shortages affecting manufacturers worldwide. However, we anticipated this development thanks to our strategy and have been able to adapt our plans to ensure we can continue delivering on our promises to customers. 

Setting up a team for success 

Another challenge we face as a fast-growing company is onboarding the right personnel. This is a big challenge at the pace we’re growing. We have two new factories opening in Europe and North America this year alone, so we need to build entirely new teams. Nevertheless, we’re determined not to compromise on finding the right Kempowerians to join our team. 

Our recruitment strategy is very focused. We prioritize finding people who match our values and share our ambitious goal of scaling fast. Therefore, our team comprises people who love the idea of driving growth and are always ready for the next step. Our Kempowerians make our company, so we’re determined not to rush our hiring decisions and always stick to this criteria. 

The success of our recruitment strategy is reflected in our impressive eNPS score of 70. I attribute this high team satisfaction to the fact that everyone in our team is dedicated to a shared vision and, in turn, are rewarded by seeing the fruits of their labor in our high growth. As we recruit for growing business, we will remain steadfast in these criteria to further sustain this growth. 

Lessons in leadership 

As Kempower has progressed, I’ve evolved alongside it. When I first joined, I led a relatively small team where I knew everyone by name and could be involved in all company decisions. Today, our team consists of over 600 people from over 35 nationalities. As this figure keeps growing, I simply can’t be as involved on a day-to-day level as I once was. 

Letting go of certain responsibilities has been challenging, as I naturally want to be as involved as possible. But I have had to learn to let go. Fortunately, I’ve built a team I can totally rely upon, meaning I can confidently place my complete trust in my management team to make the crucial decisions I used to.  

Having relinquished some responsibilities, I see the Kempower team solving problems without my input. It’s amazing to see the business running itself, showing that the structures we’ve worked so hard perfecting are working. This allows me to focus on the big picture and plan for the future. 

Ready for the next period of growth 

I like to think of Kempower as a small child when I joined. It had strong potential but needed careful nurturing to grow into a fully-fledged business. Now, it’s transitioning into adulthood and reaching full maturity. The fact that this has happened so quickly is a testament to the solid team we’ve built, the structures we’ve put in place, and our dedication to always planning ahead. 

No one can predict precisely what the future will hold. However, we’ve built a solid system to ensure that whatever happens, Kempower will grow with the times and achieve its vision of creating the world’s most desired EV fast-charging solutions for everyone, everywhere. 

Written by

Tomi Ristimäki

Kempower CEO