Good News from Thu, 21 July, 2011:

Working on another planet

It will soon be three years since Silva Paananen began working as the head of Finpro's trade centre in the southern Indian city of Chennai. Previously she worked for Finpro in Finland and it was certainly a big decision for her to take as Silva had never been to India before moving there.

The things Silva misses most about Finland are the straightforward nature and functioning of everyday life. When she moved to India, the culture shock was considerable as the mass of people, the difficulty of getting about and the heat all completely changed her daily life.

"It was like moving to another planet. Life is just completely different here. Many people have a maid who takes care of the cooking, cleaning and other daily chores. In summer the newspapers are full of ideas about how to spend your time indoors, because nobody wants to be outdoors in the heat," says Silva.

Finpro helps Finnish companies in India to identify local business opportunities. Silva has come to know the Indian working culture as all of the employees in her department are locals.

"I admire the work ethic that Indians have. It's a pleasure to watch young and developing employees who have a burning desire to learn," praises Silva.

"Indians are used to very hierarchically-structured work and I've noticed that they aren't necessarily prepared to ask for help if something is too hard. I've always encouraged them to ask for help if I haven't explained something clearly enough," she adds.

Not much is known about Finland in India as the local media focus much more on local events. Of course, Nokia is recognised as Finnish as the world's biggest Nokia factory is in Chennai.

"My years here have taught me patience and tolerance. The embracing hospitality of India has made a big impression on me. I'm definitely glad that I moved here," says Silva.


Our summer series depicts working in different cultures.