4 min read

Working at Neste as a researcher, how does it look like?

Leena Matilainen
Head of APAC Innovation Center, Neste

Do you know that at Neste, 25% of the employees globally work with innovation and technology? Innovation has played a key role in Neste’s transformation from a regional oil refiner to a global leader in renewable and circular solutions. To highlight the job opportunities at our APAC Innovation Center, the first innovation center we have outside of Finland, we interviewed Leena Matilainen, the Head of APAC Innovation Center to share with us her career path at Neste, and what working at Neste as a researcher is like. 

Hi Leena, could you please introduce yourself briefly? 

My name is Leena Matilainen, and I’m working on establishing the APAC Innovation Center as the Head leading the center at least in its initial phase. I have an education background in chemistry and have been working in different roles in R&D for many years, including 14 years in total at Neste. 

Leena Matilainen, Head of APAC R&D Center, Neste

What was your motivation in choosing your career path in research and development? 

I liked mathematics and natural sciences already in elementary school. I was intrigued to understand what are the principles behind phenomena. When I studied chemistry in university, I told myself that I want to ‘make inventions’, ‘something big’ that have a real impact on our society. I remember vividly that I joined some classmates to work on a catalyst. I enjoyed that teamwork very much trying to find the best catalyst ever. So it was quite natural for me to go into research and development. And I am proud to say that at Neste, my childhood dream comes true, because what we do is to create a healthier planet for our children. This is quite ‘something big’.

What is the main reason you chose to start and develop your career at Neste? 

Neste has a good reputation and is known as one of the most popular employers for the researchers in Finland. We are known well as a company, who nurtures the culture of converting ideas to concrete innovations. I joined Neste as a lab technician as early as the 1980s. Though I explored my career in other companies in between, I find Neste as the right place for me because I feel proud of being part of Neste’s transformation, developing over ten types of wastes and residues such as used cooking oil, waste animal fats to be used to produce high quality low carbon renewable and circular solutions together with my colleagues in Innovation team. And our work still continues. 

How do you feel coming to Singapore from Finland, heading the new APAC Innovation  Center? 

With humbleness, I feel very excited about this role and opportunity to learn a new culture and explore new places. I have visited Singapore a few times. At the time, I told myself that I could live here one day. I am very happy that it came true. Besides Finland as my home country, I have also lived in California before working on my dissertation research. 

ForestCump: Forest industry carbon dioxide utilization for materials and plastics

What kind of team do you plan to build in Singapore? 

We are targeting to have a team of roughly 40 professionals by 2025. In the short term, the team will focus on research and research analytics around raw materials and the pretreatment process (the production process that purifies our raw materials). And in the long term, the team will also have the opportunity to work on new types of raw materials, such as municipal solid waste,or CO2 via Power-to-X as raw material. 

At Neste, we live on our values: We care, We have courage and We collaborate, on a daily basis. This is also what I expect my team members to demonstrate. All of my future team members will have a chance to work in Finland when they join the company in order to gain Neste’s global innovation practices and know-how. 

What profiles are you looking for as your team members? 

In 2022, we are targeting to recruit up to 15 team members. We will soon kick off the second wave of recruitment activities. We are currently looking for researchers, senior researchers and research assistants in relevant industries. 

If a potential candidate is reading this article, what do you want to share with them? 

If you believe in Neste’s purpose, transformation and values, and you have skill sets that you can contribute to the team, please apply for our positions here. Together, we create a healthier planet for our children. 

Written by
Leena Matilainen
Head of APAC Innovation Center, Neste