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China is a vital market for a lot of companies, and KONE is no different. KTI (KONE Technology & Innovation) China has offices in both Shanghai and Kunshan.

KTI China is certainly an exciting place to work. Not just because of the market opportunity of China, but the ways in which this unique market requires unique solutions: a challenge KONE developers are all too happy to embrace.

We spoke to Hans Valtonen, Head of Elevator Technology, and his colleague Pu Cheng Dong (Alex), Component Manager from the IoT team, who gave us the insider view into the Chinese market.

Building on its positive reputation as a Nordic brand, KONE has a great opportunity to make the most of the fresh talent in the region. The team has grown rapidly over the past decade: who knows what another ten years might bring...

Hans, let’s start with you. Tell us how you made it to KTI China...

Hans has been around the world with KONE, finding new roles and challenges through KONE’s intranet.

“I have been at KONE for 12 years. I originally started as a Car Cabin Designer in Hyvinkää, Finland. After that I joined KONE’s Italian R&D team to work on elevator product management as Chief Design Engineer for the elevator platform. After a short stint of three years, I returned to Finland and took up the position of Elevator Platform Manager for MonoSpace 700. After a short while, it was time to take the next step: I had started to look for something new when I saw an open position in Kunshan...

I was originally hired as Head of Platforms in China to drive elevator and concept development; I did that for three years, and then an opportunity to change roles opened and I became Head of Elevator Categories, working on elevator component technology.”

Hans has stayed within KONE while embracing new opportunities, culminating in his current dynamic role.

“I am leading in the elevator technology category and managing our concept team here in Kunshan: we are pioneering elevator components and new elevator experiences and concepts. We also have a small patent team to protect our innovations.”

What about you Alex?

Originally starting out elevator-side, eventually moving to development and implementation, Alex jumped at the opportunity to join KONE’s IoT team in China.

“I am the Component Manager for IoT Development. Day-to-day, I create KONE digital services for our customers and manage device-side development.

I joined KONE in 2007 so I have been here for almost 13 years.

“It’s been great to see KTI China develop from initial concept phase to development; first we were doing things mainly for China, but now the outlook is much more global and we’re doing things for KONE globally.”

Fun fact: Alex originally joined KONE on the recommendation of a classmate in Shanghai!

What do we need to know about KTI China?

First of all, it’s rather a big organization as Hans explains.

“There are 300 people here in KTI China. We are actually the third biggest R&D unit in KONE after Hyvinkää and India. My team has about 50-60 engineers working on elevators and concepts.”

KTI China is an impressive operation split between offices in Kunshan and Shanghai, but Alex’s immediate team is more intimate.

“We are about eight or nine people in the IoT device development team in China.

My team develops devices to enable KONE 24/7 services and manage people flow: the dream would be to offer DX class elevator capabilities across all our platforms. The key is providing similar experiences and capabilities to all our customers.”

What makes China different?

As Hans explains, one of the differentiators of KONE in China is the presence of end-to-end teams who make localized solutions for the market.

“In China we are adapting the digital elevator for the Asian Pacific market, ensuring that not only the elevator works, but that all the other additional services also function. It’s all about ensuring KONE quality.”

What goes into KTI China’s success?

A big part of KONE’s success has been the combination of hardware and digital: at KTI these too things always go hand-in-hand.

“My team is undeniably a core elevator team, but we have a very close relationship with people like Alex and his team. We are constantly bringing digital into our products.

It’s very obvious that one cannot win without the other. We need close cooperation between software and hardware.”

What is KTI China’s role in the whole KONE journey?

Alex has seen a lot of changes at KTI China over the last 13 years.

“One of the most exciting things has been witnessing the R&D unit grow from just 30 people with not too much responsibility, to us having more and more responsibility across China and beyond.

KTI China has grown fast and plays an important role in new product and service development.”

Hans is similarly enthused by what he sees at KTI China.

“We need to remember that China is the world’s biggest market for things like high-rise elevators. The elevator market is 100 times bigger than 30 years ago and it will keep growing.

In order for us to keep growing we need to safeguard innovation: this is where KTI is so great, because it’s innovation that happens close to the customer.”

How do you think KONE compares to other employers?

Alex obviously hasn’t regretted following his friend’s advice and joining KONE.

“I think the fact that KONE is a Finnish company means that there is quite a low hierarchy and a lot of mutual respect between managers and employees.

People are equal in the working environment and motivated to do well.”

What kind of talent does KTI China need?

So what does the future talent of KTI China look like?

Hans is looking forward to the next stage of growth already.

“We need to facilitate growth with T-shaped engineers who have an eye on digital and IoT services and capabilities.”

Alex also feels that keeping an eye out for people with a “mechanical background and understanding” will be essential for attracting proper talent to join KONE China.

Another important point made my Alex about IoT work at KONE is how unique the IoT opportunity really is.

What joining the KTI China journey means?

Joining KTI China is all about going on a digitization journey. It’s a chance to harbor different perspectives in a genuinely global expanding team.

As Alex explains, “When you join the team, you will be part of not just creating code, but creating something with real use-cases for the customer.

Some companies just create an empty ‘story’, but we actually create a tangible user benefit by creating services for our customers.

Joining KONE means being part of digital transformation.”

Hans agrees on the hands-on nature of the opportunity.

“Whoever joins, can make a real difference to people flow.

There is a wide range of roles available: mechanical support, UX designers, service designers, engineers: 100s of roles available. And whatever you end up choosing, there will always be new opportunities to explore.”

At KTI China we work at speed and we have excellent facilities for creating, testing, and launching experiences.

We experiment in a very short time span which is a big asset for KTI China: this goes for both hardware and digital services.”

Do you think you have what it takes to be part of the new KONE talent generation? Check out our vacancies here or get in touch with our local talent acquisition team by contacting Qian Jian (Anna) by email: Qian.jiang3@kone.com

Next, read about our culture of innovation here!