From plant to plank - A holistic approach matters to Hanna Ostman

Having previously worked in both the forestry and sawmill industries, Hanna Östman is taking the next step in the value chain as she assumes her new role within international sales at Norra Timber.

Text Karolina Edstedt Published 10 October 2023

PhotoVictor Lundberg

We met Hanna Östman at her home in Tjälamark, just outside Umeå. Two years ago this house was abandoned, was without water or sewage, and had electricity lines installed in the 1940s. But after intensive renovation work, Hanna and her partner Daniel were finally able to move in last year.

“The house was very much in need of renovation when we bought it, but my partner and I have both always wanted to live outside the city and close to nature”, says Hanna, who adds
that there is still a lot of work to be done on the house.

Last spring she was appointed international salesperson at Norra Timber, where she now conducts business in every global market.

“It is complex work because we have customers from different cultures and markets, so there is an awful lot to learn. Right now I mostly join in with colleagues to watch and learn, as well as act as extra support for fellow members of the sales team”, Hanna says.
She has begun to familiarize herself with the markets in North Africa and the Middle East, and has paid a visit to Jordan together with her colleague Niklas Gustafsson. She has also visited customers in Greece and the Baltic countries and immersed herself in the UK market.

“There is a lot to think about when building long-term customer relationships while simultaneously striking a good deal for allconcerned. There are considerable challenges, but I like that”, says Hanna Östman, who explains that it is important to be well-versed in the world economy, as well as always keep an eye on global timber prices.

Everyone knows everyone

As the latest recruit to Norra Timber’s sales team, Hanna hopes to contribute with her positive energy and innovative way of thinking. The timber industry is generally male-dominated, and Norra Timber’s marketing department is no exception.

“It’s good that a young woman is joining the group. It creates a better dynamic”, she says.

Hanna is focusing her energy on learning all the new systems and getting to know her colleagues, customers and agents.

“It is fascinating to meet all these people because then you really get a sense of how big the world is, and yet at the same time how small it is too! I’ve noticed that everyone knows everyone in the timber industry, which I think is really cool”.


The entire value chain

Hanna is a trained engineer in forestry and wood technology. In addition to her studies, she also worked in the forest as a planner for Norra Skogsägarna, which is now Norra Skog.

“I feel it is important to have been involved in the entire value chain from plant to plank. So after I had spent two years out in the forest, I applied to SCA’s sawmill in Rundvik. While there I worked both on the floor and later in the office. And now my journey has led me here, to working with the final product at Norra Timber”, she says.

Hanna comes from a family of forest owners. She sees the forest as part of the solution to the world’s climate issues, and it was her interest in the environment that influenced her career choice.

“I think it’s fun to work with wood. It is our only renewable raw material and it feels both right and important, which is why I decided to work with the natural resources from our forests”.

At the moment Hanna’s focus is on sawn timber products, but in the future she will also work with Norra Timber’s construction products, which today are mainly sold in Sweden and Norway. The plan, however, is to expand exports to, for example, the USA - something Hanna will be a part of.