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Tampere Ambassador: Vivian Leung

Where are you from?
I was born and raised in Canada, but my parents are originally from Hong Kong.

What would you like to tell about yourself?
Originally I worked for about 2.5 years as an HVAC commercial sales estimator before leaving my job to help my Dad with the family construction business. After helping him complete a couple of projects, I constantly found myself asking the question, “Could we have done better? Is there a way to run the business more efficiently and refine our process?”

I was constantly asking myself this question even while I was working as a sales estimator, and so I decided it was time to return to school to learn more. This time, however, I wanted to gain some international experience, which is how I ended up studying in Finland, and later for 5 months in the Netherlands, and then for 4 months in Japan. I have to say its been a real eye-opener. Canada is a multi-cultural country so growing up I did have a lot of exposure to different cultures, but it’s still no substitute for traveling and living abroad.

What makes Tampere special for you?
I feel like it’s the perfect size. Not too big, not too small. It has most of the comforts of a big city but still maintains that hometown feel. Everything is relatively convenient and close by. Europeans often complain about how long their 20 minute commute is, but when you live in a Canada a standard daily commute can be 1 hour or more. I also love how close to nature I am. There are plenty of lakes and forest trails that are a short walk from my house. Many metropolitan areas try to bring the forest into the city, but Tampere feels more like a city in the forest. That probably makes no sense to most people, but I think if you live here for a little while you’ll understand what I mean.

Tell about your professional activities?
I’m a student in my final year of studies as an Industrial Engineer. I would like to do something in the fields of either manufacturing or supply chain management and logistics (or both if possible). I also discovered this wonderful community called Tribe Tampere. It’s basically a place where entrepreneurs, or people thinking about entrepreneurship as a career, can get together and network with like-minded individuals. I never really saw myself as an entrepreneur but after participating in the first ever Talent Tampere Export Gateway project and volunteering with Tribe Tampere I’m seriously considering a career as a freelancer.

To be honest, I’m at a major crossroads with my career so it’s hard to say what direction my professional activities will take. I’ll keep you updated as things evolve.

What is your involvement in international activities?
Well, Tribe Tampere is very much targeted towards international people, and so getting involved in the entrepreneurial scene pretty much means getting involved in the international scene. Like I said earlier, I’ve done quite a bit of studying and living in different countries, and if I have time I plan to do some volunteer work helping other foreigners to better integrate.

What is your mission as a Tampere Ambassador?
I would like to promote Tampere as a great place to visit (and as a great place to live). Admittedly all the construction makes Tampere a little less appealing. But I’m sure it will look amazing once everything is done!

Also, when I first came to Finland as a foreigner, I found (and still do) find integration for foreign students to be challenging. There were not a lot of opportunities for students to really network and establish themselves in the community when I first came here, or even develop themselves professionally. In fact, a lot of my classmates ended up leaving Finland. No matter how great the city is, if a person can’t establish a strong network both personally and professionally they will usually end up leaving. And that’s a huge shame, because many of my friends were smart, young, talented people who wanted to stay in Finland but couldn’t find work for various reasons.

I’ve seen a lot of new opportunities pop-up around the Tampere area though, like the Export Gateway project, Demola, and Tribe Tampere. I would like to help others not only take advantages of those opportunities but possibly help create new opportunities for themselves as well.

What potential do you see for Tampere in the future?
I think Tampere has the potential to truly become a truly modern, well-built city. Neighborhoods like Hervanta are just a taste of what the city can become with some excellent urban planning. I don’t think I’ve ever lived in a neighborhood more well-designed. Who knows how amazing everything will look once the tram is done and the arena up and running! Not every city can boast having an arena conveniently located in the city centre by the railway station.

I also think the Tampere 3 initiative is a great idea. With 3 universities in such close-proximity to each other collaborating, Tampere really has the potential to become a great innovation hub for Finland. I think if the city plays its cards right, it could easily become the Silicon Valley of Finland.

Vivian Leung