September 9, 2019

My career: From start to Finnish

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Solip Park, South Korea
Co-founder and business design lead

Solip used to work at video game companies in South Korea and the US. Sometime in 2016, she suddenly felt the urge to experience more of the outside world and started seeking good educational opportunities. She decided to come to Finland. These days, she is working as a business design lead at a startup she co-founded.

1. How I got my current job is… when I volunteered at Slush back in 2016, I was fascinated by the student-led startup ecosystem in Finland. Quickly after this experience, I conducted a series of interviews of Finnish entrepreneurs and wrote reports and a book about the Finnish startup ecosystem in my own native language (Korean). I just wanted to let people in my home country know about this interesting movement happening in Finland, and I also thought writing a story about Finland was something I could do to return the favour to Finnish society with the resources I had at the time. While conducting the interviews, I also met a guy who wanted to build a startup and expand to the South Korean market. So, I thought “why not” and joined the team.

2. What I find surprising about working in Finland is… it is interesting to see that workers’ unions are common here and how the Finnish system is trying hard to support workers’ rights (also the rights of the immigrant workers). I feel I am protected and represented in the society, and I know this is not to be taken for granted: I remember my dad fought for these rights back in the 1990s in South Korea. A lot of people, including my dad, got fired because of their union activities. Thanks to those peoples’ effort, the situation is slightly better in South Korea these days, although there’s still a lot of things that need to be resolved. Thus, I also feel gratitude for the people in Finland who fought for workers’ rights and maintain the system today.

3. If I could change one thing about Finnish working life it would be… the slow and cautious decision making here. Finnish companies prefer to make decisions in a very careful manner, making sure that everyone consents. The good side is that, in the long run, everybody is satisfied with the decision and the product is good quality. But the downside is that you could miss the timing in the fast-changing global industry, as marketing and sales are often about quick implementation, especially in the startup scene.

4. The best way to enjoy the weekend here after a working week is… to be together with your loved ones – family, friends and communities. I personally think that’s where the true happiness comes from. And the Finnish working culture is certainly keen on providing people with enough time to rest and be with their loved ones. Working hours and locations are flexible, sick leave is not deducted from vacation time (in Korea and the US, often you have to spend your annual day off when you get sick), maternity leave… you name it. And I think that all comes with the effort to protect workers’ rights.

5. My initial expectations of Finland were… the only experience outside of East Asia that I had before coming to Finland was the US. So at first, I was quite amazed by how vastly different the US and Finland are, especially in how corporations and communities handle decision-making processes.

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