International business executives thrive in Helsinki 

The 90 Day Finn programme gives international professionals the chance to experience work-life balance in the happiest country on Earth.

Helsinki Partners
Mikael Ahlfors, KEKSI Agency

Thanks to digitalisation where you live and where you work are no longer chained together. In fact, many executives and professionals are as global as their businesses. Helsinki is a popular choice for these international business professionals.

“I’m British, but I’ve lived in many different countries,” Gavin Westwood says. “I’ve lived in Finland for ten years now. I want to stay in Finland because of the work and family benefits.”

Westwood is senior vice president at HCL Technologies and has extensive experience as an executive in technology companies. He says Helsinki is a great place for a tech professional to live and work.

“Helsinki has a professional, highly educated and diverse workforce. It is perfectly acceptable to speak English here,” says Westwood. “We also have great travel connections, which is important for someone working in a global enterprise.”

Gavin Westwood

Helsinki has a professional, highly educated and diverse workforce. It is perfectly acceptable to speak English here.

Innovating legal technology from Helsinki

Other international business executives will soon be arriving in Helsinki as part of the  90 Day Finn programme, which gives people an opportunity to experience life in Finland’s capital. These include two from the American West Coast: Maya Markovich from California and Holda Crocker from Oregon.

“We have been searching for the right opportunity for our family to live abroad, and we have long been aware of Finland’s reputation for excellence in education, sustainability, a rapidly developing tech sector and shared progressive values,” Markovich says. “We immediately recognised the programme as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to bring together the threads of our experience in a new way.”

Markovich’s background spans venture capital, law, behavioural science and change management. She advises high-growth startups and consults on industry innovation initiatives and investment opportunities. She is also the executive director of the non-profit Justice Technology Association. “I am connected with the Legal Design Summit in Helsinki and have worked with innovators across the Nordics for many years, so I am really looking forward to expanding my network in Finland among startup investors and innovators,” Markovich says.

Managing water resources

Holda Crocker is an international sales engineer for the wastewater treatment company Orenco Systems. Finland is famous for its water – both its lakes and its taps – and Crocker is interested in seeing how the industry works here.

“Respect for natural resources seems to run deep in Finnish culture, with genuine commitment to sustainability goals,” she says. “I look forward to getting to know other water resource professionals in Finland this fall and exploring the European wastewater and water reuse industry from a Northern European perspective.”

Orenco is already doing business all over the world, but Crocker thinks she could expand their European operations while living in Helsinki.

Learning something new

Helsinki might be a great place to work, but it is also a great place to learn new things. All three of our families have school-aged children and mentioned their excitement about the world-famous Finnish education system.

Markovich’s husband Matt is looking forward to learning more about the EdTech landscape in Finland, as he has experience in the sector and has worked with major clients like Google for Education.

Finland stresses lifelong learning, which is good for Crocker who is loves languages and wants to learn the language. (“Finnish is a doozy!” she laughs.)

Westwood is delighted to see people in the 90 Day Finn programme excited about Finland’s education system. He points out how great the education experience is even outside of school.

“Our kids have had the opportunity to grow and learn things through many activities here,” Westwood says. “They have taken classes in playing the piano, horse riding, languages, art and dance. It has really helped them.”

Experiencing Finland’s famous work-life balance

The World Happiness Report has named Finland as the happiest country in the world five years in a row. This is due to how Finland has built an infrastructure of happiness which supports both the society and the individual.

“You see where your taxes go here,” says Westwood. “You see the great healthcare system, the efficient transportation network, the fantastic education. You see where your money goes in society and how everything just works.”

Another important aspect of happiness is a healthy and rewarding work-life balance. The 90 Day Finns are eager to experience the famed balanced life in Finland.

“To me, work-life balance is the ability to focus on enjoyable and challenging work when its time to work, but fully disconnect from work to focus on family, health, relaxation and cultural enrichment when it is time for that,” says Markovich. “COVID-19 has blurred all these lines for us even more than pre-pandemic American corporate culture, and we are truly looking forward to a different approach to life priorities.”

Crocker says for her work-life balance means the pace of one’s career allows enough time for recharge, creative thinking and personal relationships.

“When you cover many time zones as an international sales engineer, meetings sometimes happen outside of standard work hours,” she explains. “You have to deliberately prioritise your family time, and I appreciate that Finnish society values this approach.”

Is your company interested in international expansion? Get in touch with us for free-of-charge and tailored services for businesses wanting to move to the capital of the happiest country in the world!

© Marek Sabogal

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