My career: From start to Finnish
Priyam Sharda, India
Design research lead
Priyam ended up in Finland after she reached out to her current boss and co-founder of the company she now works at on LinkedIn to look for ways to collaborate.
“I liked their work and reached out to her to tell her so,” she recalls. One thing led to another. Priyam visited Finland for a couple of days for her final round of interviews in July 2017 and was instantly sold. The Helsinki summer was sunny, warm and green.
“I remember thinking to myself, ‘Why does everyone complain about the weather, this is fabulous?’” she recalls.
Once she moved here later that year in November, she had more of an inkling as to why people were less than enthusiastic about the weather. Nonetheless, her enthusiasm remained undimmed.
“Apart from the fact that I was super excited to work with my current organisation, moving to Finland was a no-brainer: It’s super safe, a hub for design, and well… mysterious.”
Her current workplace is very international, with about eight different nationalities working together on global projects.
“A lot of people in Helsinki find that surprising, but I guess this is going to be more the norm as workplaces get more diverse talent and projects.”
1. My initial expectations of Finland were… almost a blank slate. There’s so little that’s written about living in Finland that on some level I was afraid I would turn into a serial hibernator, that I would constantly be under the weather and largely live in silence. My experience, though, has been completely different. I have been lucky to have found ways to explore my interests outside of work, I have found that Finns can be some of the most silent yet the warmest and most straightforward people you’ll meet. I’ve found really great friends in my co-workers (yes it can happen), and I guess I’m turning into one of those weirdos that don’t mind the cold.
2. The Finnish word that best describes working here is… mutkaton (uncomplicated). Everyone has a no-nonsense approach to work, and there’s no judgement or extra frills for the kind of work that you do, the hours you spend (or don’t) and a recognition of the things that may impede your ability to do so at times, like your physical or mental health or your responsibilities as a care-giver/partner/parent.
3. Working in Finland’s design and social impact industry has taught me… that there is SO much exciting work happening out there. The design community here seems to be quite tight-knit, and there are constant opportunities to engage with people in the industry. (I can’t say I make the most of that though).
4. What I enjoy most about living in Helsinki is… I love the calm and simplicity that Helsinki has brought to my life. I live in Kallio which is often described as the “hipster” part of town but, to be honest, I find most of Helsinki to be pretty hipster. I love that the city is so laid back in every way. There’s no reason to rush through life, and there’s no reason to be a certain way. You can be however you like, explore what you like, and there’s room for you. I am still often surprised even after over two years here at how comfortable it was for me to transition from living in one of the noisier and warmer cities of the world (Bombay) to one of the coldest, calmest and quietest ones.
5. My favourite thing about Finland is… that it’s a different place depending on which season it is. Summer in Helsinki is my favourite, and I can’t get enough of being outdoors then… but snowy Helsinki is beautiful too and has gotten me hooked on the sauna! I love that people are direct and can be trusted. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve forgotten my phone at a cafe and found it exactly where I left it. Life is wonderfully predictable in a lot of ways, and I love that.
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