Easy fieldwork

The profession of a machine driver is a cleaner and more versatile job than its reputation suggests, suitable for a precise professional regardless of gender. 


The profession of a machine driver is often associated with physically demanding tasks, where clothes get dirty with oil, and ears ache from the noise. However, working with modern machines is something entirely different. Operating modern machinery does not require physical strength from the driver, as the controls are as easy to handle as a computer mouse. 

 – You can completely discard the image of a driver gasping for exhaust fumes or getting covered in oil leaking from the machine; says Pekka Pöllänen, the CEO of Adolf Lahti. 

The industry is still male dominated, but women have also found their way to operate the machines. According to Pöllänen, this is a good thing – in his experience, women are well-suited for precision-oriented driver tasks. Additionally, the diversity of the workforce increases job satisfaction and balances the work environment. 


From a healthcare worker to a driver 

Miia Janhunen has studied as a healthcare worker and a baker-confectioner. However, her fascination with large machines led her to operate an excavator. 

 I like to set the big wheels in motion, says Janhunen, who also drives a fire truck in her free time at the Volunteer Fire Department. 

Janhunen initially chose the profession of a machine operator following her husband’s example. Now, she has been in the field for almost six years, an industry that has interested her for her whole life. As a child, Janhunen envisioned herself driving a log truck or a forest machine or repairing vehicles, despite the societal guidance leading her to study more traditionally feminine fields. Now, especially her immediate surroundings have changed perceptions, and for example her father is pleased with his daughter’s success in a traditionally male-dominated field. However, there are still skeptics. 

– A woman must demonstrate her capabilities differently than a man, Janhunen says. 

Nevertheless, according to her, working with men is straightforward and pleasant, and women excel in the steering wheels of cars and machines due to their precision. For example, in the steering wheels of timber trucks, you increasingly see more women. 

At Adolf Lahti, Janhunen’s job involves mainly handling logs. She operates a payloader on the sorting line as a companion to the telescopic log handler driver. Janhunen’s future plans is to drive the telescopic log handler herself – the king of machines. Besides large machines, the best part of the job is the good colleagues. 

 – We have a good team here – We support and help each other; Janhunen says.  And when we’re familiar, gender doesn’t matter. The main thing is that the tasks are done. 


A good job for a humorous woman 

Heidi Hinkkanen has always enjoyed driving. After completing her basic education as a vehicle mechanic, the woman was already behind the wheel of a truck at the age of 19. Soon, she was driving wood chips from Russia, where a female driver caused astonishment. 

At that time, women were not allowed to drive a vehicle over 10 tons in Russia, and I had a load up to 45 tons at its best; Hinkkanen recalls. 

With hair extensions, tattoos, artificial nails, and piercings, the 160-centimeter tall Hinkkanen sometimes felt like a tourist attraction among men – especially when pregnant. 

– Pregnancy is not an illness, says Hinkkanen. And gender, especially, is not an obstacle to any profession. 

According to Hinkkanen, the job of a car or machine driver is excellent for a woman, even though working in a male-dominated industry requires a certain sense of humor. 

In picture: Heidi Hinkkanen


After coming mother/After getting children, Hinkkanen quit traveling jobs and switched from driving a truck to operating material machines. During one work shift, she can drive up to five different payloaders  and telescopic handlers. This makes the job diverse. However, the number one thing is the work atmosphere. 

– Even though you are alone in the machine, the phones work, Hinkkanen says. Good colleagues also include the customers’ drivers – cooperation with them is seen from a customer service perspective.

A good driver needs stress tolerance, common sense, and initiative. In the cabin of a machine weighing 80 thousand kilos, decisions are made alone. In the future, Hinkkanen could also work in supervisory positions – if as long as she can also continue to drive. According to her, it is important to manage the work properly. 

– If there is a more experienced colleague in the field, it’s worth listening to them and trying it out for yourself. 

Although the work of a machine operator is not physically demanding, it is not something that anyone can do. The driver plays a significant role in the customer’s production chain. Raw materials must not run out, and finished products must not stay in their place. In a typical situation, loads of timber-carrying trucks are unloaded, loaded onto railway wagons, or fed into the factory’s production. The schedule is tight. However, the work must still be done according to the instructions, with safety as a priority. This requires efficiency, resilience, and an independent approach from the driver. Even though the work community is just a phone call away, the driver sits alone in the cab and needs initiative and decision-making ability. Without forgetting driving skills. 

 But we are still talking about machines weighing tens of thousands of tons, where very precise tasks must be performed, Pöllänen reminds. 


Equality at all levels  

In the KWH Logistics business group, it is crucial to strive for gender equality and promote more women to enter the industry, ensuring a balanced gender structure in various positions. The same applies to wage equality. 

– For example, at Adolf Lahti, competence and versatility are part of the employee’s collective agreement wage system, increasing more equal treatment of all employees and promoting the realization of equality, says Mona Andersson-Kuorikoski, Director of HR and Internal Communication at KWH Logistics.