Maria Krajewska-Olkkonen, the fresh Managing Director of Growth Tribe Finland, arrived in Helsinki from Poland over 15 year ago. During the past years, Maria has been working in various leadership roles in international organisations, lastly working as Chief Operating Officer at Nordic Business Forum.
How did you end up in Finland?
My adventure started over 15 years ago, when I arrived in Finland from Poland as an exchange student and instantly fell in love with Finland. I love the nature here, and I felt right at home!
What has helped you along the way in your professional career in Finland?
I am a very positive and out-going person, I have genuine interest in others and I believe this has helped me in building my professional and private networks. I am strongly focused on constant personal development and learning the Finnish language (this hasn’t changed until today). Mastering a new language from scratch as an adult is not an easy task, so focus for me is not on perfection, rather to keep studying and continue to develop every day. Understanding the language was important for me personally, it opened my eyes to the Finnish culture, politics, and society: even if I still use English most of the time personally and professionally.
Last, but not least: I always had the goal of becoming a successful business leader, supporting other professionals in reaching their potential, and helping companies to thrive. With this in mind, I often ask myself: what skills/tools do I need to get where I aim, and how can I bring value? Personal development and learning never ends!
What main obstacles have you experienced?
I can’t say I personally experienced a lot of obstacles. However when I consider limitations, of course, what comes to my mind is the Finnish language. I believe that with fluent Finnish, there would be more career opportunities. This was one of the main reasons for me to learn the language: even if English was a corporate language in almost all organisations I worked.
What do you see as the main value of international professionals working in Finland?
An international perspective will inspire creativity and encourage innovation. This will lead to a competitive edge and profitability. Diverse teams are more productive and perform better. International professionals bring a unique skill set to the organisation. Very often it allows an organisation to offer a broader range of products and services.
From my personal experience, I can also say that diversity and inclusion in the workplace cause all employees to feel accepted and valued. When employees feel accepted and valued, they are also happier in their workplace and stay longer with a company. As a result, companies with greater diversity in the workplace have much stronger cultures and lower staff turnover rates.
What is your message to international job seekers in Finland?
It would be the same advice I would give to a Finnish job-seeker: be proactive and network. Building relationships takes time. Be proud of who you are. You bring a unique perspective, unique skills. At the same time, be humble, never stop learning, and always give your very best.
What is your message to companies employing people in Finland? Why is diversity important in your opinion?
There are so many positive aspects of hiring international professionals. A diverse workforce will lead to more creativity and productivity, but it also will help you in building a rich and more fulfilling workplace culture for all employees. Such openness will also result in better employee morale as well as a positive reputation for your company’s culture, which will lead to more talent coming to work for you.
If you are an international professional living in Finland, you can register your CV with Pointer Potential here.
More than 400 000 people with an international background live in Finland. In Helsinki alone, every sixth person has a background other than Finnish. The We Work-series shares glimpses of the real-life stories of international professionals living and working in Finland.
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