ESPO Port Pro of the month Port pro of the month: Ville Haapasaari (FI)

This month we are bringing you to the Port of Helsinki, Finland’s busiest passenger port. Its CEO, Mr. Ville Haapasaari, told us more about how he got into maritime transport, his vision for the Port for the next decade, and the impact of the current COVID-19 pandemic on the Port, among other very interesting topics!

Can you briefly tell us about the Port of Helsinki? What are its main characteristics and challenges?

Helsinki is one of the busiest passenger ports in the world, and the Port of Helsinki Ltd creates a seamless framework for sea traffic to Tallinn, Stockholm, Travemunde and St Petersburg. In 2019, 12.2 million passengers travelled through the Port of Helsinki. Our passenger harbours lie in the very heart of the city.

The Port of Helsinki is also Finland’s leading general port for foreign trade. In 2019, the total cargo traffic amounted to 14.4 million tonnes. The main export commodities are products for the forest industry, machinery and equipment, whereas in imports the most prominent product group are daily consumer goods.

In 2019, the turnover of Port of Helsinki Ltd was 95.6 million euros. The Port of Helsinki Ltd is a limited company owned by the City of Helsinki.

As a forerunner in our sector, the Port of Helsinki takes responsibility for people and the environment in its operations – each and every day.

We participate actively in society’s discussion concerning the port and logistics field and cooperate with decision-makers, influencers and authorities. We want to advance our business sector and help the companies connected to it and the surrounding society understand the business operations of the port and of maritime industry and their impact on the Finnish economy and well-being.

We are in constant dialogue with our partners and regularly measure customer satisfaction with our operations. We also want to be a good neighbour to the citizens of Helsinki. We keep our discussion channels open and work actively with neighborhood associations in our local region by, for example, organising regular events.

How did you get into maritime transport? How did your career path lead to this position?

During my commercial studies back in the 90s, I acquired my first trainee positions in the forest industry logistics. This was not something I specifically targeted, it was more what was available at the time. However since then I have done my whole career in logistics, and enjoyed the whole ride;  it is an extremely interesting sector.

I have worked for almost 15 years in a shipping company in various positions. This lead me to manage Helsinki Airport for six years in 2012-2018. After that it was kind of a logical step to come to the port. In my current position, I can make good use of the knowledge gained from both shipping as well as the airport. There are a lot of similarities between airports and ports, but of course the emphasis on cargo is much bigger in our sector than it is generally in airports.

What is your vision for the Port of Helsinki for the next decade? . . . . 

. . . . continue reading the interview on the ESPO website here