My Career: From Start to Finnish
Vibha has embraced Finnish work-life balance
Get to know more about Vibha via LinkedIn.Studio Omena
Vibha Deshpande, India. Senior Relationship Manager
It is often said that people move to Finland for love, a job or an education. Vibha Deshpande, originally from Nagpur, India, ticks two of these boxes. Vibha moved to Finland in 2012 to follow her partner’s career move. Although it was an exciting opportunity, it wasn’t an easy decision for Vibha to leave behind her family, particularly her ailing parents, and the familiarity of everything around her.
What sealed the decision for Vibha was being able to carry on working at the same IT company in Finland. In the ten years since, she has built a career and life here, learnt to navigate Nordic winters and even found time for volunteering and mentoring.
How I got my current job is… I was an IT professional working in an American multinational company in Bangalore and didn’t want to leave my job. So I started looking for internal transfers and found a role, interviewed for it and got the job. My interviewer and I became good friends once I moved to Finland, and I asked them what got me the job. They quickly said it was my honesty and ability to say, “I don’t know”. As I learned more about the Finnish culture, I understood how honesty is valued here.
While I have the utmost respect for homemakers, it’s always been important for me to be formally employed. I’ve met several women who left their paid jobs to move to Finland, regretting it later. I was sure I didn’t want to move to another country without a job and be dependent on someone else. So it was very important for me to have a job before I moved here.
“The technology industry here is competitive, innovative and ever-expanding.”
What I find surprising about working in Finland… My experience working here has been primarily positive. The key reason is that ‘I embraced and I got embraced’. For example, I made an effort to learn the language. Most Finns know Finnish is difficult and appreciate even the slightest effort an expat makes to learn it.
A Finnish colleague even accompanied me to the grocery store to help me understand the different products. They also introduced me to the Finnish Adult Education Centre’s [Työväenopisto] courses, where I’ve made some great friends.
Also, I sang Ievan polkka [an old Finnish song] at one of the office parties, and I can still remember the ‘quiet Finns’ jumping on their feet to dance.
The thing I struggled with the most was dressing appropriately for the season. But I started enjoying the winter and muddy puddles once I learned it.
The Finnish technology industry is… true to its reputation as one of the world’s most technologically advanced countries. The industry here is competitive, innovative and ever-expanding. As a country with a very digitally skilled population, digitalisation is a natural progression and it is making services accessible literally at our fingertips.
Security, privacy and compliance are taken seriously, and Finnish companies invest in improving and implementing them in their products and services design.
Another key area that often features in conversation, is sustainability. It is commendable how from city to data centre planning, sustainability is a focus area and how technology companies are seriously committing to sustainability.
The challenge that I have encountered and overcome while adjusting to my career life here in Finland is… I wouldn’t call it a challenge, but when I worked in India, I wasn’t disciplined enough and worked long, odd hours. The thing I needed to learn after moving here was how Finns strive to maintain a work-life balance. As I learned to respect and embrace it, I realised how enriching it was to my life. I had time for hobbies, community work and, most importantly, my health.
My favourite thing about Finland is… I’ve had the fortune of being invited for home-cooked meals by my Finnish friends, and those have been so warm and homely. I just love how Finnish people can host guests without making much fuss about it. It’s simple, tasty food and you appreciate every bite and every flavour. I particularly love ruisleipä (‘rye bread’), reindeer stew, and dill and potato soup.
Also, because my husband and I are into camping, we really love the ‘everyman’s right’ to camp and enjoy the scenic beauty almost anywhere.
The organisations that have been helpful for my professional growth in Finland include… my employer, who has been crucial in my survival in Finland. In tough times, I got all the emotional support I needed.
I have also engaged in many community projects through my employer. For example, I’ve worked with the Finnish Refugee Council’s children’s centre to organise workshops for unaccompanied children arriving in Finland.
Another initiative dear to my heart is Mimmit Koodaa (Women in Coding). I’ve been delivering training programs to women starting their careers in IT or restarting their careers after a gap. My work with Mimmit Koodaa earned me a nomination for the ‘Nordic Women in Tech’ award in the mentor of the year category.
The advice I would give to someone contemplating moving here for work is… to understand that Finland is a country of hardworking and honest people. “Sisu” isn’t just a term. It’s seen in the way people lead their lives. Before permanently moving to Finland, make a short visit – preferably in winter. Do not restrict yourselves to meeting people from your own country, make an effort to meet Finnish people.
What I enjoy most about living in Vantaa is… how accessible essential services are. There is also a community feeling that I have started discovering where members participate in hobbies and activities together.
The hobbies that I have really enjoyed practising in Finland are… My love for swimming has found a new serenity in the Finnish lakes. I enjoy swimming in the lakes or just lying down on the shores and feeling the nothingness. It’s like meditation.