Doing business with Finns

Mohan Rajkarne, the country manager of Tata Consultancy Services, tells how it is to work with Finns.

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Finland and India might seem geographically worlds apart, but when it comes to doing business the distance is not that great. Let Mohan Rajkarne, the country manager of Tata Consultancy Services, tell how it is to work with Finns.

Tata Consultancy Services, (TCS), is part of the Tata Group, one of India’s largest industrial conglomerates and most respected brands. They have been present in Finland for more than twelve years enhancing customers’ IT services, business solutions and outsourcing, having today more than 1 200 consultants working for Finnish clients. TCS has its country office in the modern Ruoholahti business district in Helsinki and has recently moved to bigger premises to accommodate growing business.

Mohan has been country manager for TCS for three years now. He sees his mission as bringing TCS’s experience of working globally to Finnish companies that want to receive a consistent level of service everywhere.

Structured approach to doing business

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By plane Mumbai is only six hours away from Helsinki. Photo: Finnair

Finns have often been described as matter-of-fact types in communication, a description with which Mohan agrees.

“Always when coming from a different background it takes a little while to understand what people mean,” Mohan states. For example, when listening to presentations Finns tend to sit quietly, a custom which might leave the speakers wondering whether or not their message went through. But soon he realized, “If there is a point to be made, then the point will be made. So if no question is asked, the audience have probably understood.”

“People interpret situations differently. For example, take ambiguity. Ambiguity in business situations, from our background, at times, is quite all right, whereas, in Finnish situations one really needs to have a well structured plan,” Mohan states and continues, “Since our entire way of doing business is a very planned operation, a structured plan actually helps us in doing business rather than making it difficult.”

According to Mohan, setting up a business or running one on a daily basis in Finland is not challenging since the authorities follow the same structured method of working:

“We have regular interaction with the authorities and whether it is for work permits, compliance-related issues or taxation, in all of these matters we have had a high level of harmony with the authorities. And what helps greatly is that they are able to guide one very clearly in what to do and what not to do.”

Innovation

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Helsinki has been recently selected as the most livable city in the world by the lifestyle magazine Monocle. Photo: Visit Helsinki

According to Mohan the level of innovation sets Finnish business culture apart.

“I think it is the reason why I am personally here and why our company is really investing a lot in this market. If you look at the top 30 companies here, it was not that they always had all the natural resources available to them, it was more about how to be able to galvanize available resources and make them work together. And they all came up with breakthrough ideas to be succesful.”

“That’s really the amazing part to us, and hugely inspirational! What we are doing is therefore to tap into some of that talent, to interact with the young minds and learn from the innovative companies here.”

TCS has doubled its workforce dedicated to Finnish customers within a year regardless of the fact that 2010 was generally tough on businesses due to the global slowdown.

“We have been growing at a very good rate and we are even more committed to this particular country. The reasons for doing that are the way that we are structured, the way we are doing business and the level of innovation. Those are the reasons for us to be successful and importantly we want to learn from companies here!”

By Riia Järvenpää, June 2011

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