After being a part of mine operation and asset management in Australia for many years, when the time came to launch operations in Europe, Bluefield AMS knew that finding the right person to lead the launch was key. This needed to be a person with a passion for the resources industry, but also the technical expertise to understand the importance of optimisation.
They found their man in Antti Nikula, Based in Finland, the automotive engineer brought his life-long love of moving equipment to the role, as well as a wealth of mining asset experience.
Starting life in the fast lane
Antti's affinity for engines and motor racing started at a young age, as he tells it perhaps a little younger than it should have.
"I've been passionate about automotive engineering since I was a little boy - I was the one driving a car when I wasn't old enough to have a license," he says.
"In this part of the world young boys are very competitive in everything they do, so when we turned 15 and could legally drive, we took to tuning light, 50cc motorcycles, seeing who could make them the fastest.
More than just a pastime, Antti later took his love of engines into higher education and doing thesis work in the Formula Fords racing scene in Finland.
"I worked with the development of biofuels in the cars, which was a pretty new idea at the time. The Formula Fords competition in Finland ended up trialing the biofuels for a year, which got us some nice publicity."
Transitioning into a mining career
After securing a job with a motor racing team, Antti's engineering career was well and truly underway, however, the realities of working in that industry meant he was soon looking for other opportunities.
"The team ended up struggling financially. That's the nature of that world - it's good fun but it's very difficult to make a career of it," he says.
After seeing a job advertisement in the newspaper for a work planner in the gold mining sector, he took a chance and managed to leverage his experience tuning engines to get his foot in the door. While perhaps not obvious to everyone, Antti found similarities between the new role and his past.
"In motorsport it's all about optimising things, cutting seconds off a lap time or the pit stop, and I brought that same mindset to my mining career. I started to look for opportunities to make things better, improving cost efficiency of maintenance and delivering the most value from a business."
Taking charge with Bluefield
Just a few years down the line, Antti found himself with a unique opportunity - to open up a world-class open pit maintenance operation from scratch. Being such a new challenge for him, he was naturally provided with professional support to drive the organisation forward, support which came from Bluefield.
Impressed with the company, Antti worked towards getting his current employer to a solid position, before making the decision to make a new start.
"We shared the same mindset of maintenance and the same values. When the time came that exiting my previous role wouldn't have a big impact on the business, I took a chance with Bluefield's opportunity in opening the European office," he says.
"The first year with Bluefield has allowed me to meet a lot of new people and see a lot of new organisations. It has been a great learning experience, and business is growing."
With talented people such as Antti on board, Bluefield's European office is going from strength to strength.