Both the company and the business benefit from also having workers who are not Finnish-born. This is how Johannes Haarla, CEO of Haarla Oy, feels, encouraging companies to hire international experts.
Haarla Oy is an internationally operating technology company that delivers raw material and machine solutions for the process industry.
– Through research and development work, we want to enhance the manufacturing processes and to make them more environmentally-friendly, says Johannes Haarla.
– We are focused on international growth. Therefore, I cannot look at our operating environment from only Tampere’s point of view. Instead, I need international experts by my side to open my eyes to other cultures. They review our operations from their own cultural context.
Haarla Oy employs approximately 40 workers, with seven of them having an international background. Doina Mucundorfean, working at the Tampere office, moved to Finland from Romania nine years ago, and she graduated from TAMK’s Department of International Business. In Haarla, she started in April 2013 as a trainee and now has a permanent job contract.
– I work as a sales assistant and logistics coordinator, which means that I organise the orders and transport with customers and suppliers, Doina Mucundorfean says.
– I use Finnish, English, Spain, and Romanian in my work Everything has gone well both with colleagues and with customers. I was so satisfied after the first week that I baked an apple pie and brought it to work.
She had another job interview in spring 2013, but there she was met by an engineer with no language skills who did not want a foreign employee in his team.
– He noticed that I speak Finnish, but still did not want to work with me. Luckily, in Haarla they are bolder!
Companies need cultural skills
Perfect fluency in Finnish is not top priority for Johannes Haarla.
– When I recruit an employee, I try primarily to find a suitable person. I want to hire a person who shares our values and ways of thinking, is open to new development ideas, and who is critical in a positive way.
Haarla points out that Finland has quite unique culture and language that can cause problems in international communications.
– Here also the words that remain unsaid carry a lot of meaning, and this is an important aspect to share with the workers coming from abroad.
– In addition, the structure of the Finnish language forces us to think in another way than those speaking Anglo-Saxon languages, for example. Finns can easily unintentionally offend the person to whom they are speaking, if they speak Finnish with English-language words. Therefore, mere language skills are not enough, but cultural competence is also needed. This is why Finnish companies need people from different cultures.