Gathering experiences of working life in Finland

Finland is looking for international talent to join its workforce, especially for positions in the health and ICT sectors. Professors of practice Jamie Hyneman and Jorma Turunen talk about their experiences working in Finland. We also speak to startup entrepreneurs Iranthi Gomes and Anna Fatima Sambou about launching a business in the country.

“When I first went to Finland in 2017, I didn’t know much about the country, but I immediately liked the people I met at Lappeenranta-Lahti University of Technology (LUT),” says Jamie Hyneman, who is famous for his work on the TV show MythBusters between 2002 and 2016.

“I like the Finnish work culture. People have sisu, and honesty is a very important value.” Sisu is a Finnish word that denotes a unique combination of courage and perseverance.

In 2021, Hyneman became professor of practice at LUT, in the southeastern Finnish town of Lappeenranta. He’d already received an honorary doctorate there in 2017. He started his career in movies, as a special effects expert. Today, he has a product development company, M5 Industries, based in California.

“The engineers in Finland are like me: straightforward characters with plenty of creativity,” he says. “They tell me the typical attitude is to keep their heads down, drink a lot of coffee and get the work done. I can relate to that.”

English as a working language

A man wearing a beret and a grey goatee sits at a table on a stage next to a woman who is talking with him.

Jamie Hyneman (right) participates in a discussion event with students at LUT.Photo: Vesa Laitinen/LUT

Hyneman lives in San Francisco and visits Finland once a year. “Remote lecturing is more environmentally friendly than flying from the US to Finland,” he says.

“I have developed tools for remote work; for example, my avatar robot can move around the lecture hall and let me interact with the students face-to-face. Finns are generally ready to adapt to technical innovations, and the students at LUT have an impressive technical vocabulary in English.”

In Finland, it is easy to work in English. Jorma Turunen is a professor of practice at the University of Turku in southwestern Finland. He has been a board member in more than 30 Finnish tech companies. Before academia, he was the CEO of Technology Industries of Finland, a central organisation for public relations and collective agreements.

“English is often used as a company language, especially in technology companies that are looking for international talent to work in expert positions,” says Turunen.

Meaningful work, convenient life

A man in a suit is standing in front of a large screen talking.

Jorma Turunen, a professor of practice at the University of Turku, addresses an audience during a presentation at LUT.Photo: Teemu Leinonen/LUT

Finnish work life reflects the equality of the society.

“Managers are generally not authoritarian, and everyone is expected to take responsibility for their own work,” says Turunen. “You are valued as a colleague if you are honest and reliable. Mutual trust increases work productivity and quality, and it is easy to find your work meaningful. Finland is known for gender equality, and every person has the same opportunities to advance their career.”

Turunen has mentored young researchers who have moved to Finland from abroad.

“Many of them have praised how convenient family life is here. For example, those famous free Finnish schools with amazing learning results.”

Innovation accelerates growth

A man wearing a beret and a grey goatee talks into a microphone.

Jamie Hyneman fields questions at a seminar at LUT, in front of a sign that reads “Land of the curious.”Photo: Teemu Leinonen/LUT

Finland ranked among the top 10 most innovative countries in the Bloomberg Innovation Index 2021, as they have been for many years in a row.

Innovative Finnish startup companies have attracted the interest of international investors. Of the 1.2 billion euros funding they received in 2021, 71 percent came from abroad.

By Päivi Brink, ThisisFINLAND Magazine 2023