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Marketing health innovations from Kuopio to Africa

The biggest impact of living in Finland so far is the change in my mentality and perspective of life. I am originally from Ghana in West Africa where current societal values and lifestyle varies significantly from Finland. Differences in terms of the societal values, the contribution of the citizenry, the lifestyle of leaders, security, health, well-being, respect of nature, dignity accorded to life and every individual irrespective of status among others.

There are no doubt countries, such as my native country, that have some lessons to learn from Finland. Don’t get me wrong, I am in no way denigrating Ghana my motherland, neither am I seeking to patronize Finland my second home, far from that.

Personally, it has not been easy adapting to the Finnish situation but I continually strive to; to change my mentality, to unlearn things I have known since childhood and to learn good things from the Finnish society. That notwithstanding, it has been worthwhile considering the few strides I have made since arriving in 2011. To be currently working for a company that deals with medical devices for heart diagnosis has a personal and deeper meaning to me.

A few years ago, I lost my dad as a result of heart disease. Till today, the pain of his death is shattering to the extent that the mere thought of his death brings tears to my eyes. It breaks my heart that I never got the opportunity to say a good thank you to my hero and loving father. I, however, take comfort from new things I have learnt from my new job about diagnosing heart problems and understanding why he died at a young age.

I do have some oversight responsibility on the African market in my current job and I am inspired each day; striving to take this innovative Finnish solution to my own people. In a continent where many lose their lives due to heart problems because they remain either underdiagnosed or undiagnosed, success in getting the devices into the market will help reduce the number of lives that are cut short like in the case of my late father. Who knows, someone somewhere could be shielded from the similar pain I experience.

Grow your network to include Finns and foreigners

To be working in Finland, a country that has invested most in my education, far more than my native country, offers me the platform to say “kiitos Suomi” i.e. thank you for investing in me through free education. Fact is that I arrived in Finland without any degree and to be able to take a few steps in the educational ladder because of the educational possibilities in Finland delights me.

But more importantly, in working and acting as a member of the tax net, I in my little small way can help make available financial resources that are used to sustain the very fabric of this society and to continually provide good education, health and other amenities for people living in this country.

This brings up the topic of finding jobs for immigrants in Finland, especially in the Kuopio area. From experience, finding a job as an immigrant whether in Kuopio or other cities in Finland entails a great deal of effort; dedication and perseverance. Simply put, you need some good amount of the Finnish “sisu”. Stories that I have heard from colleagues and from personal experience do give credence to the fact that the traditional method of applying to advertised jobs and waiting for an interview invitation might not be that effective.

One may need to build a good professional network and contacts in Finland because they do provide a good source of information about job openings and sometimes serve as credible recommendations. Although not entirely true, there is still some truth in the perception that most immigrants especially non-Europeans that come to Finland limit their professional network among fellow countrymen and women, hardly extending it to include Finns. People in such limited network set-up will resultantly be limited to the traditionally advertised job openings.

The job search in Finland can be tough for both immigrants and natives

Beyond this unfortunate situation for fellow immigrants, in addressing the situation, I think Finnish city authorities must continually empower and encourage companies for a change in mindset to offer opportunities to qualified immigrants. This is a vital effort because of unpleasant stereotypes about immigrants as against the high quality of Finnish education, expertise and societal values. The mindset of companies or people who make employment decisions was critical in my own case. Both in Joensuu (my previous job) and Kuopio (current job), I was fortunate to have encountered firms with an open and daring mindset.

Currently in my present job, thanks to the positive mindset I enjoy a great atmosphere, support and encouragement from my superiors and colleagues. The environment feels like one biiiig family working towards a collective goal.

The little encouragement I have for job-seeking immigrants in the Kuopio region is, that although times may get tough; never let the situation break you down but rather learn something from every experience. I remember during the interview for my current job, I was asked: “what if I was not chosen”. I responded by saying “it was enough for me that they made time out of their busy schedule to have a discussion with me. I surely did learn some new stuff during the discussion.”

One of my favourite inspirational quotes says “you can't cross the sea merely by standing and staring at the water.” When you think of the proverbial water temperatures in warmer countries as against that of Finland, you might end up staring for a long long time in without doing any swimming or crossing even during Finnish summer when conditions are better. There is surely hope for the future as more and more companies continue to embrace and give opportunities to qualified immigrants, we must therefore not coil into our shells.

Isaac Adaam

Sales Manager, BITTIUM.


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