After travelling to more than 15 countries, Remy decided to do his bachelor’s degree in international business in Ireland. During his exchange year, he met his girlfriend, who is Finnish. She first moved to France with him while he was doing his master’s degree and, in December 2016, he moved to Finland with her to do an internship. One thing followed the other and he is still living here.
He worked in a managerial position for more than two years in Helsinki before jumping on an entrepreneurial journey as a self-employed independent growth marketing and Wix consultant. As he describes it, his story is one full of “passion, networking, perseverance and motivation with a pinch of luck combined”.
1. What I find surprising about working in Finland is… the importance of work-life balance! It is the first country that I’ve lived and worked in that has introduced me to flexitime, and that is a real game changer! No matter what time you wish to start or finish your workday, as long as you get your work done and done well, you are free to organise your own schedule. To me personally, it is really important that when we invest so much of our time at work, our employer invests back into its employees with flexibility and respect for employees’ personal time and wellbeing. This is not the case in many countries, and we all should embrace flexitime
2. If I could change one thing about Finnish working life it would be… to be more open to changes and experimentations. Every company is looking for growth, but most of them are afraid to try new processes or change their working culture. Of course, it is not an easy task, and changes don’t happen overnight. Nevertheless, too often I see a lack of a shared mission within the same company between their teams: not only sales and marketing but also design, development, management and other teams. Having a shared mission is the key – it drives alignment. It is time to break all silos and support cross-functional teams!
3. The piece of advice I would give to someone contemplating coming to work in Finland is… be ready to be really active! And to network a lot! Pretty much anything can happen in the capital city, if you know the right people. And obviously when you’ve just arrived you know pretty much nobody, and that is not a problem because there are plenty of meetups and free networking events available weekly. Just be ready to get yourself out there! One easy way to start networking and meeting new people is by getting active in local communities and never being afraid to ask for help or mentoring from people you are interested in or you look up to. You’ll find out that most of the time they are really happy to help, but you were the one who was too afraid to ask. So don’t be!
4. The best way to enjoy the weekend after a working week is… going to a summer cottage far from the hustle and bustle of crowds, sitting on a jetty in front of a stunning lake view, firing up the grill, going to sauna and for a swim, drinking a freshly brewed cup of coffee at sunrise, that’s all I need! Of course, this dream weekend is possible only during the summer time. During winter, it would look more like: going for a walk around the frozen sea, stopping by a small-town market to drink a hot cup of mulled wine, going to a brunch and relaxing in a sauna. Simple things are the best!
5. My initial expectations of Finland were… a really cold and dark land, where every food tastes like liquorice and everyone is introverted. But I quickly realised that even though the Finnish winter is definitely cold and dark, it doesn’t mean it has to be depressing.
For example, in 2018 during my trip to Lapland, I had the chance to do some dog sledding with genuine Arctic Siberian huskies and it was both one of the most magical moments and one of the coldest moments I have ever experienced!
And wait until you experience your first Finnish summer! As soon as you can start seeing sunbeams, everyone will be rushing outside to sunbathe, have picnics, go to festivals, eat on terraces, go to a summer cottage with friends and family, eat really tasty Finnish berries and taste local summer potatoes. Summer is kind of a big deal here – and after the long and dark winter we can understand why! Finnish food is so much more than makkara, muikku and pannukakku; I love that it is really simple, yet so powerful!
And when it comes to Finns, they might be more shy than others at first, but once you make a Finnish friend you can be sure it is a friend for life! Trust among Finns is among the strongest I have ever seen in any other nations.