Could this be your summer 2020?

Hey, you summer applicant! Do you want to hear the experiences of our last year summer employees? Alan, Ossian and Tommi will tell you how the summer recruitment process went and what happened after that. And sorry for the spoiler, but in the end, there are also their tips for applying to Gofore. Check those too!

Who are you?

Alan: Heyo, I’m Alan. I’m working as a UX designer, currently improving our own Slack bots intended to help goforeans. Study-wise, I’ve been in Information Networks at Aalto University since 2016 and look to finish my Bachelors’ degree soon (I promise). Before coming to Gofore, I had very little work experience, most of my strengths were gathered by self-learning via YouTube tutorials and own projects.
Ossian: Hey I’m Ossian, a junior software developer working on one of Gofore’s internal bots, Granny. In September I moved to Helsinki and started pursuing a master’s degree in computer science at Aalto University. At the time of applying to Gofore though, I was living in Turku and finishing up my bachelor’s degree in information and communication technology (in Finnish ‘tietotekniikka’) at the University of Turku. I’ve also previously studied and worked in the U.S. but prior to Gofore I hadn’t yet had a tech job on Finnish soil.
Tommi: Howdy! I’m Tommi and I’m working as a Software developer developing our internal chatbots. I study Computer Science at Aalto University as a master’s student. Previously I have worked as a summer trainee for a couple of summers in different companies.

Why did you apply for a summer job at Gofore?

Alan: I saw a summer job ad in the Athene’s (Information Networks guild) recruitment letter. The whole application concept seemed unique, so I decided to look more into the company behind it. The more I read about Gofore, the more I started to fancy it. I thought to myself that even if I don’t get in if I get to the hackathon, I gain a project for my portfolio during the application process and can show that to my benefit while applying elsewhere. So, there was no way I’d lose applying to Gofore.
Ossian: I had never heard of Gofore before applying and if wasn’t for my sister, I would have missed the opening. She had spotted Gofore’s ad and told me about it. What had really caught her eye, was that instead of traditional interviews or coding tests, Gofore was organizing a one-day hackathon. I figured that even if I wouldn’t be offered a job, just participating in the hackathon would be a valuable and fun experience in itself (and I’d get free food) and thus worth my time regardless of the outcome. Additionally, I was happy to see that Gofore had an office also in Turku so I could potentially enjoy summer in my college town before moving to the Helsinki area to continue my studies.
Tommi: Gofore seemed an interesting company to work for as I had heard good things about the company before applying. Gofore also had an interesting hiring process for summer employees last year and I wanted to showcase my skills in a hackathon.

Having fun with summer colleagues

What was the application process like?

Alan: It was really straightforward. This year’s summer job hackathon felt more like an opportunity to learn and put my skills into practice. The only interview I attended was held during the hackathon and it was kept really short. The hackathon itself was a nice way to get to know goforeans and other applicants as well. The hackathon was held on a Saturday and the following week on Thursday I got a happy call that I was offered a summer job, so I was very pleased with the speed of the application process as well.
Ossian: Going into the hackathon I was extremely nervous. We had been instructed to pick a few interesting data sets from but otherwise I had no idea what we would be doing. However, once I had met my group and we started planning our project, I was able to relax, and my focus shifted from getting the job to getting our product to work. After about eight hours of hammering away at our keyboards, we got to admire everyone’s final products as well as to just hang out for a few hours with each other and some current employees that had spent the day with us. That was both a relaxing way to end a pretty intense day and a good opportunity to learn more about Gofore and goforeans.
Tommi: It was different compared to other companies as there was no pre-assignment. I only had to send my application and spend one Saturday at a hackathon at Gofore’s office in Kamppi. The hackathon day was a super nice event and it also helped me to get to know the company better. Less than a week after the hackathon I already got a call offering me a summer job that I happily accepted.

How was starting out?

Alan: I didn’t have a project ready for me to hop into right away, so in the first week I mainly tried to get to know Gofore and goforeans. After a week I had the opportunity to help in an internal project interviewing goforeans regarding our feedback culture. Tea Latvala told me in the first meeting something along the lines of: We’re going to have the first interviews in two days, you’ll be the interviewer and I’ll take notes.  I was really nervous and anxious to jump straight into something that isn’t my forté, but at the same time, it felt nice to be trusted from the get-go.
Ossian: I started at the Turku office in early May and I was quickly given a new internal project to develop on my own. Gofore has some chatbots that are used internally to replace middle management and to automate boring and repetitive tasks such as reporting work hours. I was given the task to both designs and implement a new internal chatbot that would answer any questions that goforeans are frequently asking. I didn’t really have any prior experience of chatbot design or development or natural language processing so to start I spent some time reading both design articles and documentation for the chatbot tool Dialogflow as well as messing around with the development tools.
Tommi: Starting was made easy and comfortable. The first day was spent getting to know the company and its culture better. I was assigned immediately to an internal project. It was nice that from the very beginning I was considered as a fully-fledged team member and not just a summer employee.

What else did you do this summer?

Alan: After the project with Tea, I had the opportunity to help in another customer interview project for a private customer. For the majority of my summer, I spent time with a public sector client doing UX in a large team. I learned how to use Sketch and picked up tons of small tips and tricks from co-workers every day. In hindsight, it was really nice that I got to work on an internal project, for a private sector client and also for the public sector, because I gained brief experience on all sides.
Ossian: Since I worked on the FAQ bot, I spent most of my summer asking a lot of questions and then teaching those, as well as the answers to the bot as well as writing a Node backend for the bot. However, I got to also utilise my other skills as I helped a colleague by editing a video and took some photos of summer employee day activities and created some graphics for marketing our bots at the Shift Business festival where I got to represent Gofore with my colleagues.
Tommi: As I stated before I developed our internal chatbots. It has been a nice project to start with and I have learned a lot during the summer. I never thought that building a chatbot could be this complex and interesting project.

What makes Gofore a good summer employer?

Alan: As a junior employee, it’s nice to be valued and trusted as an equal contributor from day one. During the summer I was trusted with three different projects and had full support throughout. I feel like I could ask anyone for help, and they’d give it gladly. I came in as a narrow UI oriented student and by the end of summer felt like a more capable UX designer having gained skills outside of my small comfort zone.
Ossian: First I was surprised by how much freedom I was given and how much trust was placed in me, but once I got used to it, I’ve been loving it. Still, I’m not alone in my work and have found help and support when I’ve needed it. Also, it’s great to be surrounded by people in a variety of different roles: service, UX and UI designers, data scientists, service architects, developers… And though I’m primarily a developer, I’m not limited by my role and love that I’ve been able to sneak bits of graphics design and photography into my work.
Tommi: Gofore offers a great place to improve your skills and learn new things as well. You are valued as an individual and you get to work in the same projects as the regular employees.  Also, one of Gofore’s values is that “Gofore is a great workplace.” and it really shows in everyday life. You get help from others when you need it and having a break over a game of pool or table football gets your mind off work problems for a moment. Gofore also encourages people to spend time on their personal development which is a big plus.

What skills and experience that you have helped get the job and do well?

Alan: My studies in the Information Networks program are a huge asset. With more of a generalist education, I can use my broad studies to my benefit when discussing decisions and justifying them with multiple viewpoints. More concretely what helped me to get the summer job was that I learned Adobe Xd through YouTube tutorials and made a mobile app prototype for my application. The prototype was hacked together in two evenings and in the end, didn’t even work properly, but I think it showed my eagerness to learn and actually use and show the things I’ve learned. Having done two or three own projects made me more confident in my abilities.
Ossian: Obviously, I can only guess what got me to the hackathon and then hired. Maybe it was the personal projects I included in my resume to make up for my limited work experience. To keep this recent and interesting (and to not just list my Github highlights) I added a few sillier things such as this running CSS dinosaur.
It’s a cliché, but I’ve always been curious and loved learning and asking questions and that was exactly what I did this summer. And since developing a chatbot is as much a design job as development work, having the ability to put me in the user’s shoes was really instrumental.
Tommi: I think the most important skill is a willingness to learn. Working as a software developer is constantly learning and you are never ready. Of course, it helps if you know a thing or two about software development beforehand. Another key skill that I think is required is communication. You must be able to communicate your thoughts within your team clearly. Doing school projects and personal development projects help me to become a better programmer and they look good in your portfolio.

Here are some tips for you when applying to Gofore:

  • If you don’t have many projects to show, making something small for your application is a great way to start. You learn a thing or two along the way and show your skills doing so.
  • Be honest and believe in yourself. We are hundreds of individuals and no one is “perfect” or “normal” whatever that means so just be yourself and know that’s more than enough. You can do it!
  • When attending the workshop, focus on the task at hand and how you can do the best you can as a group. It’s understandable to want to show off your skills, but don’t do it at the cost of your group’s success. After all, work-life is most of the time, about teamwork and excelling as a team rather than about flexing your muscles.
  • Related to a previous point, especially for summer jobs, your “soft skills” such as communication and teamwork skills and ability and eagerness to learn are more important than specific technical skills. So rather than trying to show off what you know now, demonstrate that you are willing and able to learn.
  • The projects you add to your resumé or portfolio don’t need to be huge or complex. Including some smaller and more recent projects show your more recent skills and that you’re constantly learning.

It’s already time to plan summer 2020. Apply for a summer job at Gofore in summer 2020 ➡️➡️

Gofore Oyj

Gofore Oyj

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Double the money, triple the fun?

I’m Minna Vänskä, a service designer at Gofore. I’ve been working in the tech world now for 21 years. By training, I’m a Master of Arts. Earlier in this blog series Jaana told how she focused on mathematics instead of English. Funnily enough, now I’m working with Jaana side by side for the same customer at Gofore and I did study English as my main subject at the university. 🙂 Other studies included information studies (earlier library science), journalism and mass media, multimedia and audio-visual culture. And now that I look back on it, it’s a pretty perfect combo together with the years of experience in IT and added with some studies in service design.
While growing up I remember wanting to be a queen or an archaeologist. I was telling (lecturing) people everything I knew about king Tut at the age of 8. Then, of course, everyone wanted to be a ‘lakasukoneenkuljettaja’, basically driving a Zamboni, or ice resurfacer to be exact. I’ve always liked to make stuff: To create a doll out of a used shampoo bottle, to paint and do renovations. The kind of problem-solving that I like is to construct and sew a winter jacket or cut and build a stained-glass lamp from scratch.

Being part of a product building machine

At the age of 22 I got a summer job at Nokia, I did my thesis there and got paid for it, something that is still too rare in the Arts faculties. By the time I was 25 I had graduated and was busy writing the user guide for the first-ever Symbian OS phone. At Nokia I got to work with amazingly talented, world-class specialists, experts, and product builders, I learned about mobile technologies, customer care, logistics, factory setup, design for sustainability, and package design to name a few. And I think we were among the first to try out the legal design. I got enthusiastic about user research, observing people in context, about analytics and visual communication. I still think that one of my greatest career achievements has been the Visual user guide for the emerging markets: innovating and creating something new, a visual user guide, serving millions of customers better with a deliverable that cost 0.01€, it saved money and the environment.
I’ve always worked in a male-dominant workplace with an 80/20, or even 90/10 ratio and if you weren’t technically trained or “an engineer” you really were the odd one out. We used to joke about the elevators at Nokia, if a man didn’t crush you at the doors, he must be a lawyer. Being from an arts background didn’t make me a lesser employee for the company though. I remember the HR being brilliant at the time. If someone was able to get the work done and stand the scheduling pressures, they wanted to keep you. And no, not everyone could stand the pressure or be able to handle the complexity of 5 simultaneous product programs and their 200+ different SW variants and that didn’t have anything to do with gender or training.

Systemic problems cannot be solved in silos

I had heard about service design already when working at Nokia and saw it as a solution to the many systemic problems that I had seen. I strongly believe that multi-disciplinary teams working towards a shared goal of customer success is the most efficient way for organisations to a) invent new solutions and b) fix customer issues. However, organisational structures are often preventing this, teams are incentivised wrongly and rarely are decisions made based on data.
Currently, at Gofore I’m responsible for user needs studies, design sprints, innovation, concepting and service design. I like to arrange multi-disciplinary workshops, involve users by applying service design methods.  My eyes shine in the moments when I see teams gathered around a customer journey or customer problem and working hard together to fix it. What I currently want to focus even more on are:

  • AI and robotics combined with the understanding of human behaviour
  • helping companies to be more knowledge lead with the help of analytics and data visualisation
  • building services that bridge the digital and physical realms and, for example, use drama exercises in testing these out

Equal support for your career

My career in tech has taken me to a London park for a morning run, to Texas, Georgia, Poland, Italy, Belgium, and Lapland. Early on I realised that a career in tech would be a much better provider than many of the possible careers in arts. Being a teacher or a librarian would’ve meant maybe half of the salary. But there’s no glory unless you’re enjoying it all. For me having a partner to balance the load has been essential. It’s not easy having small kids and mom off to London semi-regularly.
I’m a third generation of women with a university degree. But things are not always progressing for the better. My granny had 5 kids and worked in industry as an economist. But unlike many mommies nowadays she didn’t even try to shine in every area of life. In the 1950’s she had both a housekeeper and a nanny to help her. And in the summer kids were sent to the “farm” out of the way. Today, women try to be perfect on all fronts of life. For me, it’s been a life long path to finding balance, deciding what I like to focus on, what I value most, where I enjoy being and not worry about the rest so much.

Keep at it

I was listening to the keynote talks from Charity Wanjiku of Strauss Energy Ltd. and Laura Tirkkonen-Rajasalo of Sulapac at the WiT event on Friday and the experiences felt similar. Don’t mind what society is telling you your role or path should be like, you can do it. Perseverance or ‘sisu” is key and 99% of achievement is showing up every day and doing the work. Also, don’t shy away from new opportunities, it’s OK to be scared and by practice, you can overcome your fears.
My motto is from Virkkukoukkunen:

Lentäminen on asennekysymys – To fly is all about the attitude.

Read the previous parts of this blog series here:
Passion for continuous improvement
A love for mathematics led the way
Subconscious career design
Value your skills – they are needed in tech
My career in tech – a continuous learning curve
Finding my own material to design
Working as a woman in tech

Minna Vänskä

Minna Vänskä

Minna has several years of experience working with international teams, across organizational boundaries, running UX studies, concepting, development and quality improvement projects. She is an experienced user researcher and communication specialist. At Gofore she is responsible for user research, user experience design, and service design projects. Minna loves to apply service design methods in user research and to involve organisations and people to discover the insights.

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It was already clear for me in high school, that I want to become an engineer. This was partly because I was not very keen on reading thick books for admission tests and partly because mathematics was easy for me and I believed, that technical education would provide many different career opportunities. However, I had no idea what those opportunities could be.
Thus, I applied to the electrical engineering department at the University of Technology and was accepted.
The first course was about programming basics and I was immediately thrilled. I had never touched a computer before that.  It was amazing for me, that with the combination of my brain and the keypad I could accomplish all kinds of cool things on the computer screen. There were many boys hanging around in the computer class and offering their help, but I systematically rejected their offers and wanted to solve the programming exercises myself. This really paid off, because learning happens primarily by trial and error.
After graduation I wanted to move towards product development, because I felt, that it would give me the opportunity to do something unique that has not been done before. This was probably the most important decision during my entire career, although I did not realize it at the time. As a result of this choice, I have been involved in the development of forefront technologies and innovations throughout four decades:

  • 80’s: Embedded SW development for research vessel Geldysh and diving bell Mir, which were part of the Titanic movie, searching for the lost necklace
  • 90’s: Web services for the consumers, digital television and mobile games
  • 00’s: Smart phones
  • 10’s: Digitalization and Internet of Things

It is easy to understand, that this has required continuous learning and renewal to keep up with developments – not only technologies, but also business. Several paradigm shifts have taken place during this time.
Personally, I do not think that it has been very different being woman in tech compared to being a man. I have been very fortunate to have had managers and colleagues that have supported and trusted me. Understandably, there have been sometimes situations of gender related prejudice, but those have been due to stereotypical assumptions, which have been corrected quickly.  I have never felt ignored or diminished because of my gender.
Having said that, I do feel, that there is quite high pressure from the “environment” to squeeze us women into a certain kind of mold. For example, many people tend to think, that women are more suitable for non-technical or supporting roles than men even if they work in the IT industry. As a woman, you must be very determined to keep your targets and priorities clear to fight back against these kinds of forces.
I had both my children (boy and girl) at a fairly young age and combining work and family has always been part of my life. It has not always been easy, but for me, these two roles have strongly supported each other: an interesting job with all the challenges has been a necessary counter force to raising children and taking care of their well-being. Spending free time with family has given me a huge amount of energy and helped me to recover from the work. Children have taught me many useful skills, that can be applied also to work life.
Luckily, they are already teaching programming in elementary school now, so maybe I will have a chance to help my granddaughter with her programming exercises as I did with my daughter during her studies.
According to a colleague, my hidden superpower is an outstanding resistance to pressure. This skill is the result of 35 years of practice in priorization, determination and focus on the essential.
Psst, we are attending the Women in Tech Forum, so if you have any questions or just wanna have a chat, meet us there. More information: 
Read the previous parts of this blog series here:
A love for mathematics led the way
Subconscious career design
Value your skills – they are needed in tech
My career in tech – a continuous learning curve
Finding my own material to design
Working as a woman in tech

Terhi Vesanen

Terhi Vesanen

Terhi Vesanen works currently as Chief Growth Officer at Gofore. In this role she is leading the activities to further develop the operations and information systems to support company growth and at the same time enforce Gofore’s mission to produce outstanding employee and customer experience with a very low organizational structure and a self-direction. Terhi’s background is in product development and project management and she has the passion for continuous improvement of the ways of working.

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I have worked in tech all my professional life. In high school that was not my plan though. I dreamed about studying the English language and becoming a translator. Luckily, I didn’t get in when applying to university 😀
It can be said that my career is more or less a coincidence. And it has been affected by two men, my father and my high school math teacher. My father gave me an example of how easy and fun mathematics can be and my high school teacher encouraged (or pushed) me to apply to study mathematics at university (even though it was only my second choice). Fortunately, I got in and have not regretted a single day. At the age of 19, I could not imagine what a future in the technology industry would bring, and it has been quite a journey.
I had always loved mathematics in school and when I started my studies at university it was quite a shock. I soon realized that mathematics is a lot of work. But it is worth it, trust me. Hard work has been the key to my success throughout my career. There is no way you can quit and say this is not working. You just have to try another approach and there will always be a solution. It might not be what you thought it would be, but things will work out one way or another. Studying mathematics has taught me a lot of problem-solving skills and a logical way of thinking – things that are still at the core of technology and software development.
At that time (in the early 90’) there was no subject called computer science, it was called applied mathematics. But I loved it and felt I had found my home. Creating software was inspiring and there were a lot of things to learn. It was so much fun trying to find a bug in the program and fix it. Or maybe I just have a crooked mind. Still today I sometimes miss the times when I was writing code.
After I finished my studies (in the mid 90’), I ended up working for Nokia. It was a ride that lasted almost 16 years. I started in coding, did some project management tasks and ended up doing standardization and technology insights. I got to travel around the world, work in different roles and learnt a lot. I admit, when I (finally) got the notice of employment termination in November 2011, I felt relieved. One door closed and another opened for me.
After being unemployed I planned to stay at home with my 2-year-old daughter, but another coincidence happened and changed my plans. I had applied to a study program and is had an internship as part of the program. In the first info session about the program, the organizer told me that they had already sent my CV to Gofore for the internship and that I had an interview with them the next day. In that interview I said that I didn’t need any study program and that I wanted to work for Gofore without any internship. Two weeks later I signed a contract. So, I ended up working for Gofore without ever even applying to the company. And once again I have not regretted a single day. It has now been 7,5 years.
I was hired as a software developer and I got to write code and find bugs for the first 3 years at Gofore. I was also handling some project management tasks and gradually shifted totally onto that path. Currently my title is technical project manager and I’m so proud of it. I get to work actively with customers to find out their actual needs. And as I have a coding background it gives me a lot of understanding on the technical details and restrictions that might need to be considered with the customer. And the other way around, I can make the message from a technical level more understandable for the customer. So, my job is mostly communication.
Throughout my career my background in mathematics and problem-solving has helped me. Problems vary and nowadays they are not technical, but still there is always a solution for them. And it is my job to find it. Even though I didn’t get into studying English, I ended up as a translator. A translator between customers and software developers.

The best advice I’ve ever received was from my high school math teacher: “There are too many linguists, but the world needs mathematicians”.
Mathematics is not just for boys. And studying it will help you no matter where your career takes you. Logical thinking and problem-solving skills are essential in almost all occupations. I hope I can be an example of that to my daughter.

Psst, we are attending the Women in Tech Forum, so if you have any questions or just wanna have a chat, meet us there. More information: 

Read the previous parts of this blog series here:
Subconscious career design
Value your skills – they are needed in tech
My career in tech – a continuous learning curve
Finding my own material to design
Working as a woman in tech

Jaana Majakangas

Jaana Majakangas

Jaana is Gofore's technical project manager. She has twenty years of experience in a variety of roles within the IT industry including extensive knowledge of the public sector and how digitalisation can benefit society.

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Finding my own material to design

I’ve been working as a UX-designer at Gofore for two years now.  My core skills are UI design, visual design, graphic design, prototyping and user studies. Service design is also close to my heart and luckily there is some overlap between the processes within UX design and service design.
One of the reasons that I work with technology is that it is closely related to my family. When I was little my father had a great career at Nokia. I think all three of us children were impressed with dad’s work: he made the technology industry look exciting and important. I don’t think any of us could tell what dad actually did for his job, but it sounded exciting anyway. Most importantly, I realised at a young age that the technology industry is the future. So, it’s not a surprise that I was already leaning towards the tech industry before I even realised it myself.
Both of my big brothers became interested in the tech industry at an early age and headed to the world of coding. However, I was attracted to visual design, different services and the desire to understand users’ needs. After high school I became an artisan and then went to Turku University of Applied Sciences to study design. The studies immediately felt right for me and I was excited about the program. However, finding the context was difficult because I did not consider myself in the world of traditional materials. Textiles, wood, metal and plastic all seemed strange to me. Traditional product design was far from what I wanted to do in the future. When I got familiar with service design, I felt relief that I was now moving in the right direction. Service design was not tied to a context or physical material. It was something bigger and more comprehensive.
When it came time to look for an internship, there were no other options for me than IT companies. I had a great desire to try a position in which I could pursue my own professional development. At the end of the application process I didn’t get an internship, but an actual job from Leadin, which Gofore later bought. It was truly a dream come true. My whole application process was long and at times really challenging and I really know how it tests your self-confidence. But if you have a clear goal and you are able to use feedback for self-reflection, you are very unlikely to fail.
Still today, almost my entire family is in the technology industry: my two brothers are Software Developers and my dad is a Project Manager. I enjoy my work every day because my projects vary a lot: from sector to sector, from one industry to another. My work is all about understanding the users’ needs and that is my passion.
In my opinion you can end up in tech-industry through many different ways. After all, my studies hardly emphasized this area, actually vice versa: traditional materials were still popular. I don’t think you need to know everything about the field in advance. Even though my mindset was towards tech-industry, I knew little about the industry itself. I just learned it through practice and dived deep into unknown. My best advice is just to be brave, curious and just do your best.
A failure I learned from: Long recruitment processes and many no-responses. Through failures and feedback, I got an idea of ​​the direction in which I should develop myself. Honest and objective self-reflection was the most valuable skill that I learned from the recruitment processes.
Psst, we are attending the Women in Tech Forum, so if you have any questions or just wanna have a chat, meet us there. More information: 
Read the previous part of this blog series here:
Working as a woman in tech

Miia Ylinen

Miia Ylinen

Miia Ylinen works at Gofore as a UX Designer. She has been involved in designing the usability of demanding solutions across a wide range of industries. Miia's passion is to help create new concepts and services for customer's problems through deep customer understanding.

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The new wave of design and development companies are basically all about culture. Their whole identity, what they are and want to be, is based on shared values, norms and the way of viewing the world. Not only do these companies involve people in all of their decision-making, they also create and renew their vision through social interaction. The culture is construed and renewed in social encounters through language, Denken ist Sprechen. This also applies to micro cultures such as work communities.

But how do companies manage, when pressure comes to change the language?

Out of ‘local’ and into ‘international’

Leadin was still an infant company when we agreed our strategy to become an internationally significant UX agency. We were only about 10 people in the small town of Tampere, Finland, but many of us had our professional background in global companies. We saw that the business for high-end UX services in Finland was going to be limited, and we were not the only ones out there. So we would be better off looking at the bigger markets outside our national borders. The collaboration with our international clients had given us very positive indications that we have something unique to offer. We were hungry to get ourselves out of exclusively ‘local’ and into ‘international’.

First, we started a more active collaboration with the non-Finnish branches of the international client companies we already had. Then we got our first “real” foreign client through the traditional way (you know someone who introduces you to someone else who realises that you are offering something valuable, and off you go), then we got the second, then the third. It started to make sense to set up our first office outside of Finland, close to the client. Once our UK office was established we soon started to find ways to utilise our multisite presence as an asset that adds value to our clients in all locations. For example, as we now have offices in Finland, the UK and Germany, we can repeat a user study in three countries and three languages without hiring an external research agency to support us. All of a sudden we realised that we actually, REALLY had become an international company.

A common company language

Today Leadin operates in four countries. Our staff represent about ten nationalities from Brazil to China and from Denmark to the USA. We speak almost ten different languages, but English is the one that’s common to all.

At a certain point, companies have to ask themselves which one is more important: The culture built on communication in the local language or the opportunities provided by international clients and more diverse markets. Being inclusive to international employees, clients and partners requires you to be able to communicate with them fluently in a language they feel familiar with. You don’t set up a site abroad without an explicit or implicit take on how to deal with the language. But how would foreign employees and language affect the company culture? Turning all speech and writing into a non-native language challenges the very fundaments of the company and community.

Respect people and listen

So what would be the impact? Could we survive? That question can sound intimidating, but the answer is revealing: If everyone’s on board, changing the language actually does not weaken the culture, it strengthens it. You’re going to be well off simply by being faithful to the values you already have. Respect people, listen to them, give them the power to find their own way.

For Leadin this happened somewhat naturally. Getting the first non-Finnish employee on board was, and was not a big change. It was a big change because we had to wipe away the rust from our English small talk skills. It was not a big change because we had already practised our English skills with some of our clients and in other contexts. Everyone in Finland speaks ‘ok’ English, even those who think they don’t. What has become evident, however, is that the pros of adopting English as our company language have exceeded the cons by a million times!

It’s all positive!

Here are just some of the advantages: We are more alluring than other companies for non-native employees in our country, who may be for example university graduates with huge potential, but no access to the local job market because of the language handicap. We can offer international careers to our team. If someone doesn’t want to relocate, we can offer them natural situations to practice their language skills in their current location. This builds self-confidence for social situations. We can all learn from different cultures, and expand our understanding of the world around us. And business-wise: We are more capable of understanding clients and partners from different cultures, and we understand how to do business with them.

I am often asked the question about how foreign employees and language has affected our company culture. My answer: It’s all positive! Cultural diversity opens viewpoints and opportunities you wouldn’t even have thought about, without taking anything away from what you already had. The change is easier than you would think, but it won’t happen without a bit of effort from all involved.

This post was written by Topi who helps inspire #LeadinCrew to make people’s lives better through everything we do regardless of their culture or native language.

Gofore <3 Leadin

Gofore <3 Leadin

Gofore and Leadin announced their plans to merge in 5/2017

Do you know a perfect match? Sharing is caring

We have a diverse range of people working at Leadin – meet three of our newest dudes in the software team. Jaakko, Olli and Ville all joined within the last year.

Your career path is your choice not defined by your degree

Hi, I’m Jaakko and I currently work as a front end developer at Leadin. I am also studying a major in Industrial Engineering and Management and a minor in Software Engineering at Tampere University of Technology (TUT). Whilst working at Leadin I will complete my final course and write my masters thesis within the next year .
I work as a front end developer and I was attracted to the company by the user experience approach to software solutions which focusses on the end users rather than simply coding. I consider myself as a highly visual person and this way of doing things really suits me.
One of the best things about working at Leadin is the size of the company. We are currently just over 50 people distributed in several locations including Finland, Germany and the UK. This means that I get to know everyone in the office and we have a great atmosphere. We have a flat structure with very little hierarchy so we all work as one team.
Where do I see myself in three years time? Wow I’d use the cliché that ‘anything can happen’. If I keep learning new things at the current pace then I really don’t know what could happen! For me this is a big positive.
If I could give advice to students still in university, I would say ‘follow your own interests’. Sometimes you need to change your focus if you want to achieve your desires. This is what happened to me in my first year at TUT when I realised that I wanted to work in the software industry.
Your degree does not define what you can do – your career path is your choice not defined by your university degree. For me a series of conscious decisions turned me into more of a software guy rather than an economic management one. These decisions were some of the best I have ever made!

I get to work on a wide range of projects

Cheers I’m Olli and I also work in Leadin’s software team – I did a few years of majoring in natural sciences at TUT before studying software engineering. I complimented my studies with industrial engineering and management as minor studies. I am still studying and trying to decide on the title for my masters thesis. At Leadin our software team work on everything from back end to front end design and user experience. My technical interests are more on the back end but I also enjoy the opportunity to work across other aspects of software design and development.
During my studies I participated in a project on Virtual Reality and innovative market design that was run by Leadin. This was really interesting and spiked my interest – we were actually nominated as the best project group by our peers. The guys from Leadin were great and I realised that this was a forward looking and innovative company and it looked like a great place to work. I was right! At Leadin I get to work on a wide range of projects and I get support from colleagues with expertise in different areas of software engineering and UX. Recently I have been given responsibility for a major project working as a full stack developer with a really interesting customer and product.
At Leadin I am gaining experience and learning to manage major projects with multiple new technologies. I love this and I hope that I can be part of development far into the future. Looking back, I wish I had picked my minor subjects earlier as I would have liked to have had some cross-professional insights during my software related studies.
My advice to students graduating this year would be to make contact with as many companies as possible and not just the obvious ones that directly relate to your studies. Maintain these contacts even if the company doesn’t currently have open positions as it will benefit you if you have a contact at the company when a position related to your experience opens.

Remember that it is people who do business and not companies

Hi, I’m Ville and I studied software engineering at Helsinki Polytechnic Stadia which is now known as Helsinki Metropolia University of Applied Sciences or Metropolia for short. I’m a programmer and my passion is developing high end, high quality software using the latest tools and techniques. This is exactly what the team at Leadin do and in a growth company with a fresh and warm atmosphere and great people. I really feel part of the team and that I can make a difference. I have the support of strong and skilful colleagues who are pushing through and solving challenges.
I’m looking forward to continuing to learn new software techniques and always developing high quality and expert software solutions. My advice to students graduating this year is to remember that it is people who do business and not companies, build your networks and always remember the who alongside the what.
If you are graduating this year and would like to join Jaakko, Olli and Ville then build your network of contacts by getting in touch or contacting any one of our team in Finland, Germany or the UK.

Gofore <3 Leadin

Gofore <3 Leadin

Gofore and Leadin announced their plans to merge in 5/2017

Do you know a perfect match? Sharing is caring