Finland is for families
Last year Sean and Ladi Carr applied to the 90 Day Finn programme. They had hoped that living in Helsinki would be professionally rewarding, but they were also interested to see what this would mean for them as a family.
“Our goal was to learn about Finland.” – Ladi Carr
COVID-19 changed the way people worked, so now there was an opportunity to go and live somewhere and continue to work remotely at our jobs at the University of Virginia.Ladi Carr – 90 Day Finn (2021 programme) & Director of Global Executive MBA programs at University of Virginia Daren School of Business
Once accepted into the program, Sean and Ladi planned to bring their teenaged son, Sebastian, with them for the experience. At first, he needed a little convincing.
He was originally apprehensive about the idea of leaving his friends, but eventually he decided it would be cool to do something different. Within a week of starting school in Finland he had already made new friends. His US school was supportive and granted him a leave of absence for the three months.Sean Carr – 90 Day Finn (2021 programme) & CEO at Global Innovation Exchange
Unique access and visibility
Sean is from the United States and Ladi is originally from the Czech Republic, and both have demanding professional careers in academia. Ladi is Director of the Global Programs for Executive MBAs at University of Virginia Darden School of Business. At the time of the 90 Day Finn programme, Sean was leading Darden’s Batten Institute, focused on entrepreneurship, innovation and technology.
It was tough with the time zones. In the mornings and early afternoons we participated in practically every business, networking and cultural activity that the 90 Day Finn programme had offered. Then at about 3pm we began our US work.Ladi Carr – 90 Day Finn (2021 programme) & Director of Global Executive MBA programs at University of Virginia Daren School of Business
Through the 90 Day Finn programme they received working facilities at the digital innovation house Epicenter Helsinki. Their professional lives continued to develop while they were in Finland. Beginning in January 2022 Sean will be CEO of Global Innovation Exchange (GIX), a joint venture of the University of Washington, Beijing’s Tsinghua University and Microsoft. He is already exploring the possibility of a GIX presence in Helsinki.
The Helsinki Partners team helped me to have unique access and visibility, giving me the chance to meet many different people who I otherwise might not have. There is great potential to do more in and with Finland.Sean Carr – 90 Day Finn (2021 programme) & CEO at Global Innovation Exchange
The Carrs may have worked hard, but they also played hard. Early in their stay they visited Lapland. They used their weekends to explore Helsinki, surrounding towns and national parks. They rented different cottages and enjoyed the outdoor experiences.
We really embraced the whole Finnish experience, having saunas, swimming in the lake, picking berries and mushrooms. Helsinki is such an outdoor city. There are so many things to do outdoors in Helsinki. We rode city bikes, went to parks, enjoyed ferry rides and loved the summer ice-cream kiosks.Ladi Carr – 90 Day Finn (2021 programme) & Director of Global Executive MBA programs at University of Virginia Daren School of Business
Ladi and Sean were also impressed with their son’s experience in the Finnish education system. The Kulosaari public school was very welcoming to their son and included him fully in the 8th grade curriculum. They even provided him with a special course in conversational Finnish.
The school was wonderful! In the United States, you are typically given a three-page list of things to buy for your child at the start of the school year. In Finland you just show up and everything is provided: textbooks, computer, lunch and even notebooks! Upon our return to the United States, we received a wonderful summary of all Sebastian’s courses, his progress and the teacher’s evaluation. We are so grateful that they made this possible for us.Ladi Carr – 90 Day Finn (2021 programme) & Director of Global Executive MBA programs at University of Virginia Daren School of Business
Ladi and Sean also praised the freedom and independence Sebastian had in Finland. He could safely take public transportation to school or elsewhere. In United States he needs to be driven to his school and all afterschool activities.
Spring break in Finland
The Carrs noted that another important aspect of the 90 Day Finn programme was the quality, caliber and collegiality of the other members of their select cohort, who came from all over the world to live in Helsinki and to explore its innovation ecosystem.
Another nice thing about the program was the group of people who participated. For example, Sebastian was interested in coding. So, Kevin Dalias, another 90 Day Finn who is a company founder and expert programmer, tutored Sebastian in the Python programming language. He was just amazing.Sean Carr – 90 Day Finn (2021 programme) & CEO at Global Innovation Exchange
So, the big question remains: would the Carrs do it again?
“Absolutely!” they both say together.
In fact, we are coming back to Finland for spring break. Sebastian is planning a reunion party with his Finnish friends. This will be a nice holiday for us, and then Sean will stay longer to explore some additional business opportunities.Ladi Carr – 90 Day Finn (2021 programme) & Director of Global Executive MBA programs at University of Virginia Daren School of Business
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