Annual rings of a tree

Careers, People

6 minute read

My growth at Neste: “In the end it is about the courage we have”

Nazia Kanwal joined Neste in 2017 when she started as Business Process Analyst. Combining two of her passions, data and business, she has been able to seek development as a team lead and later, moving even closer to the heart of action in her most recent role as Senior Business Process Manager in the Renewable Aviation business unit at Neste.

Nazia Kanwal | Neste

Nazia started as Business Process Analyst in the Business Processes unit in Neste’s Finance function in April 2017.

“I have always worked with data and analytics. It was a conscious decision for me to move from data to business processes because I wanted to work closer to the business and the customers. Business processes combine the technical and business aspects perfectly,” Nazia explains.

When she started at Neste, her main task was to develop the analysis of process mining, which refers to a way to analyze and develop processes with data. However, in the beginning Nazia realized the whole system needed to be set up first.

“For me, it was the highlight of my career. At first, it seemed daunting, but later I thought how lucky I was to get that opportunity: creating something from scratch and being able to discover other skills that I was not aware of. I learned everything on the job, but of course my technical background helped. I set the process mining system up and it is working until today with hundreds of users across Neste,” she says happily.

Learning the art of leading people

Later in 2019, Nazia was presented with another challenge.

“During my one-to-one forward discussion with my manager in 2018, I presented opportunities for our team and my achievements. I also suggested that my title needed to be adapted to my broader set of responsibilities. Later in 2019, I was offered a team lead role which was unexpected to me. I was later told that even though you don’t think you are ready for something the people around you can see that you are,” she tells.

In 2019, Nazia started as a Team Lead of the Intelligent Business Processes team at Neste where she had the opportunity to develop her leadership skills. 

“I am a very purpose-driven person so I really wanted to figure it out, why am I leading this team and why is my team here at Neste. For me, it was important to show them the bigger picture and how our work was connected to the strategy so that they can have the drive and the passion to work,” Nazia sums up. 

Nazia felt that the opportunity helped her to develop on many levels as a professional.

“I was very lucky to lead the best team at Neste and learn the art of leading people. I was able to set up my own process for it and overall, I loved it,” she smiles.

Aligning all perspectives into one process

Again this year Nazia felt that a change was in order, but she didn’t want to leave Neste. 

“I believe in Neste’s purpose. Over the years I have seen how committed Neste is to our sustainability objectives: what we have promised to our customers and to the society. But I was feeling too comfortable and in order to grow, I needed to get outside of my comfort zone again,” she describes.

Opportunities are endless at Neste but Nazia had a clear vision of what she needed: “I wanted to move even more close to business where the action happens. I wanted to be in a different role but be able to use my solid foundation from the Business Processes unit. When I saw an interesting opportunity on our intranet, I decided to go for it.”

In August 2022, Nazia started as Senior Business Process Manager in Neste’s Renewable Aviation business unit.

“Moving to the Renewable Aviation business unit felt natural because I knew I could make a positive impact there. I also saw it as an opportunity to step away from the leader role and think about what I want to focus on,” she says.

The transition was smooth even though at the same time, she also moved from Finland to the Netherlands for the new role.

“During the transition, I got great support from both the new line manager and my old line manager, and the team,” Nazia highlights.

The new role provides a lot of new interesting challenges as she describes: “I am developing the processes from the point where we engage with our prospective customers until the point the sale has been completed including the interfaces to supply chain and operations. To develop the process, I need to work with a lot of different stakeholders, both internal and external. It is quite challenging but also rewarding to align all of their different perspectives into one process and then deliver the business process documented.”

Listening is at the heart of development and learning

In her different roles with business processes, Nazia sees constant development as crucial.

“I want to continuously develop my two-way communication skills, especially listening. I am a person who likes to move fast and it has really helped me to stop once in a while, usually with the help of my team. I have been in situations where I was about to make mistakes, but then I stopped, listened and avoided them,” she smiles.

Nazia describes herself as a “techy” person but wants to emphasize the importance of not putting yourself into one box: “Never limit yourself. Don’t think that you are only a technical person or a business person. In the end it is about the courage we have. You can do it, it is the matter of just doing it. Never be afraid to take the first step. The rest will follow.”

Focus on other things outside work is important for Nazia to be able to give 100% at work. 

“I am passionate about work but I also need time to recharge and not think. Walking in nature and gardening helps to take my mind off work,” she says.

Nazia sums up: “There are always ups and downs at work. But when I look at the long-term outcome of my career I am so thankful for all the opportunities I have gotten. In addition to my professional career, they have also improved me as a person, to be more patient and also to slow down.”