My career: From start to Finnish
Uchida Takako, Japan
After graduating from university in Japan as a master of electrical engineering, Takako worked as a field engineer and sales engineer for Japanese companies for about 10 years. However, the sudden death of her father made her seriously consider what she wanted to do with her life.
Studying abroad had been one of her dreams, so she decided to quit her job and moved to the city of Oulu in northern Finland to undertake a full-time MBA degree programme.
1. After I finished my studies here… I was supposed to go back to Japan and work there, but luckily I got a job here in Oulu. Surprisingly I have been working at the same company in the same job for about nine years now. I didn’t expect to stay in Finland for such a long time. I really appreciate my company, my colleagues, my friends, the local people in Oulu, and the City of Oulu and Finnish societies, because all of them have accepted me. I also appreciate my family and friends who have been supporting me all the time. Oulu is a town in the far north, but I am very happy to have found my place here.
Oulu is the capital of Northern Scandinavia, and it’s also known as the Silicon Valley of Europe. Oulu has a world-class high-tech industry and education. Co-operation between academia, industry and public sectors works very well. Therefore, our town doesn’t know how to stop developing. Oulu is a town growing through innovation co-created by all the nice local people together with the northern spirit. I am very proud of living in Oulu.
2. How I got my current job is… I was looking for an internship opportunity for the summer. My Finnish classmates found a news article in the local newspaper that introduced the organisation. The article wasn’t a recruitment ad, but I had a feeling that they were seeking a Japanese person who had a similar background as I. After I sent my CV, I had two interviews (a presentation was necessary in the last interview). Finally, I got the six-month internship opportunity. I extended it for two months more as an intern. After that, I became an official employee.
Having an educational background in both engineering (in Japan) and business (in Oulu) is unique compared to other Japanese people. I have work experience in the telecommunication industry (a leading industry in Oulu) and also worked for several years as an engineer and a regional engineering project manager in Japan, which means I understand Japanese business culture, manners and behaviour, as well as have some networks in Japan. My current job is to be a bridge-maker between Oulu and Japan, so I think those elements fit the requirements perfectly.
3. What I find surprising about working in Finland is… a silent office for the whole month in July due to summer holidays. In Japan, it’s very hard to take a one-month summer holiday. Generally, we take one week off. Even during the summer holiday season, there is some noise at the office, but in Finland the office is completely silent. I was surprised for the first working year that every colleague and managerial-level person was totally off work at the same time.
4. The best way to enjoy the weekend after a working week is…staying and relaxing at home in a peaceful environment, sometimes listening to the sounds of nature such as bird singing. Small changes of seasons are perfect and appreciated moments.
5. The Finnish word that best describes working here is… joustava (flexible). The way of thinking and doing work is flexible, the working style is flexible because it’s based on each person’s situation, using time for work is flexible, taking holidays and days-off is kind of flexible.
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