Erwan’s first encounter with Finland was back in 2000 when he was on a student exchange in Vaasa. After one year at university, he continued his journey to Europe and spent a few years working in the Netherlands and Belgium. When his second child was born, he and his Finnish wife decided to move back to Finland, “to offer a good environment to our children”.
He now works as an independent sustainability consultant for his own company, which he founded in 2013. “I thought the best way for me to do something I like was to create my own employment,” he recalls. “Starting your own business in Finland is really quick and easy.”
Erwan points out that Finland has been one of the most forward-looking countries in adopting the circular economy, creating the world’s first national circular economy roadmap for 2016–2025. Therefore, he sees this as the perfect working environment for him.
1. My initial expectations of Finland were… I was a bit worried about the strong seasonal differences between light summer months and the dark cold winter. These days, it is something I really enjoy. Our lifestyle adapts to the seasons, whether it is spending long summer nights outside in the garden or getting cosy at home during the darkest months of winter.
2. What I find surprising about working in Finland is… that coming from France, where working long days until quite late in the evening is expected from everyone, I really appreciate the fact that work-life balance is respected here and that nobody will be ticked off if you need to leave earlier to get your children from daycare.
3. If I could change one thing about Finnish working life it would be… longer lunch breaks. This is something I wouldn’t mind keeping from my French culture!
4. The best way to enjoy the weekend after a working week is… I am keen on spending time in Finnish nature and often enjoy a little ice-swimming session (avanto) at the sauna club in town. It’s the best way to let go of your work to-do-list for a mindful (refreshing) session!
5. The piece of advice I would give to someone contemplating coming to work in Finland is… if you don’t mind wearing long johns in the winter, go for it!