Patria sent out a brochure to comemorate its 100th year as a defence company, within which there is an interview with its CEO. Although it is not directly maritime related, MSD magazine still found it compelling reading as it provides this sharp, young CEO’s astute insights during this milestone in the company’s evolution. As a courtesy, we provide it here.
Thank you, Stephen Elliott, Publisher
A Second Century of Reliability
What will the security environment look like in 2021, when Patria celebrates its centenary? Governments are gathering more and more both military and economic intelligence, and hybrid operations are becoming increasingly important. Geopolitical aggression has been mounting in recent years, and tensions are rising around the world.
What will keep us safe in the future? Our safety is founded on our autonomy and the ability of our parliamentary machinery to make independent decisions about our affairs. This calls for a credible military defence capability, which in turn requires sound security of supply. Security of supply comes from reliable technology and engineering expertise. Data security is also becoming more critical. Many of the problems that we encounter in our daily working lives are down to human error, such as careless data storage or weak passwords.
What does a safe future mean from Patria’s perspective? We need to ensure our ability to perform our duties in the spheres of servicing and maintenance, security of supply, manufacture and crisis preparedness, both in Finland and in other countries where we have public sector customers.
How about from Patria’s customers’ perspective? We have built a number of models based on different circumstances and scenarios that we regularly practise. Our number one goal is to be a partner that can be trusted regardless of the global political atmosphere of the day.
What can we learn from the special measures that have been in place due to the coronavirus pandemic? The pandemic has shown that we are well prepared to respond to unexpected events. The early days of the pandemic saw selfish behaviours, such as hijacking shipments of personal protective equipment and selling them on at a profit, around the world. This demonstrated the need for us to have the technology and expertise to produce critical equipment here at home, too. Finland is a militarily non-aligned country, but we are looking to deepen our relationships with Sweden and Norway as well as on a transatlantic level. Finland must have the ability to take action if supply chains are disrupted.
Have the needs of Patria’s customers changed? Our customers are looking to maximise performance in the most cost-effective way possible. They want tangible savings without compromising operational efficiency.
Where does Patria want to be in five years’ time? Our new strategy is designed to allow us to increase our turnover from just under EUR 600 million to around EUR 900 million and to do so in a profitable manner. It is not just our product sales but also our maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) business that will play a big role in achieving our targets both in Finland and abroad. We also hope to develop synergies within Patria Group.
What challenges do you foresee ahead? No one knows what will happen to the world’s defence budgets after the pandemic. There is no guarantee that budgets will increase and they may in fact be cut, in which case we will need to reprioritise our resources. New defence materiel accounts for around three per cent of the total global annual spend, which means that the average life cycle is just over thirty years. We are currently investing in product development in the hope of extending lifespans to up to 40 or 50 years. The complexity of defence technology will only increase, which is making mid-life upgrades all the more important. We are aiming for cost-effective state-of-the-art upgrades that do not compromise usability but may in fact increase it.
Where do you see Patria in 10 years’ time? I want to see Patria grow significantly bigger and gain greater visibility internationally. The countries in which Patria operates already recognise us as a reliable provider of defence capability and security of supply. We have some of the best usability figures on the market: the solutions that we supply and/or maintain are quick to deploy, at a cost that actually decreases over time.
What does sustainability mean to Patria? Sustainability is integral to the way modern businesses operate, regardless of industry. Patria contributes to the implementation of the Paris Agreement on climate change, and we see it as our duty to our customers and shareholders to do so. The Finnish Defence Forces also needs us to provide better cost-effectiveness, including lower consumption, lower emissions and more efficient logistics chains.
What is the much-talked-about Patria Strategic Partnership Concept all about? We have partnerships of various levels of depth and breadth with those customers of ours that rely on us for critical aspects of their performance. Our Strategic Partnership Concept is designed to give our customers benefits that would be beyond their reach without our involvement: better capacity flexibility, the option of competitive tendering, instant access to the latest expertise at all times and the ability to respond to peak demand. Our most important strategic partner is the Finnish Defence Forces.
What role do international markets play? The opportunities for growth in our domestic market are limited, which is why we must think globally. We can only secure the financial resources and cutting-edge competence that we need by expanding beyond Finland. Implementing our strategy becomes easier as we gain a deeper understanding of our target markets.
Patria’s vision is to be the #1 partner for critical operations on land, sea and air. What does that demand from the organisation? Patria is known as an organisation that keeps its promises. To become a customer-driven market builder, we need to be able to establish a proactive dialogue with our customers at an earlier point in our relationships.
What is Patria doing to attract recent graduates to its ranks? We are building an increasingly open organisational culture, which means, among other things, closer cooperation with educational institutions. The problems that we battle with tend to be highly complex, which appeals to ambitious types. At Patria, you get to do things that you would not even get to see in other places.