Mari Zabihian


Name, organization: Mari Zabihian, Kemira

Current position: Sr Manager in P&P, Applications & Marketing, Digital Solutions

Areas of expertise: Wood and Paper Chemistry, Chemical Water Treatment, Colloidal chemistry, Papermaking

Roles in FibreNet: Expertise in paper chemistry, project manager for IRP6 “New Strength chemistries for paper and board”



Why is FibreNet an interesting project for you?

Mobility and networking! This project brings together and develops new experts in fiber chemistry and physics. It is extremely important that companies are involved in more fundamental research and support the development of competences to increase deeper understanding of this area. I find it very exciting to meet new people and learn how different research institutes work and contribute.


Where were you born/ where have you lived as a child?

I was born in the city of Turku Finland, and as a five-year old we moved to Eastern Finland to a small village next to a pulp mill, where my father worked as an engineer.  I spent my childhood in small villages where the utilization of fibers in forest industry was the main source of living. It was a combination of wild nature, country side and industry, spiced by international influences and insights: forest industry has been and is a major export contributor to Finland.


I love to knit and crochet; the best place for that is the summer house on an island in the beautiful archipelago of Finland. Other interests are gardening and yoga. Common nominator for all these hobbies is maybe the need to balance the mind and get some time for own thoughts. Work is very social and hectic and full of quick situations, so good to have something else during the free time.

How do you organize your time at work, reveal some of your effective time management tricks.

I think it is important to keep the average working time per week under control, but I do not take stress if the working hours are not the normal from 8-16 or from 9-17; I can work very early in the morning and also very late, as long as the total time is under control. My work contains frequent contacts to Asia and to North America, so flexibility with schedules is a must. I keep my calendar up-to-date and also my emails in order and have a task list for work which is not yet done. If something takes only a short time to finish, I try to do it as fast as possible. Prioritization according to the importance and deadlines helps with the task list. I do not participate in the online meetings where I have no role, and I delegate the tasks forward to other people and trust they do their best.

Describe the best colleague or boss that you have worked with. What was it that especially impressed you?

I have had several good bosses during my working life and I have learned something from each of them. I think the most important thing is to have respect for the competences that people have and the ability to drive for results and inspire the team; the level of energy and capability to create a vision for future and targets is especially important for leaders in R&D. I have always appreciated bosses that are able to communicate the vision and keep the team up-to-date about the progress. To create some sense of urgency to R&D teams which are very independent in their work, can bring much more efficiency and results than leading with routines and strict management processes.