My Career: From Start to Finnish
Helsinki keeps its promises, says Suphi
Get to know more about Suphi via LinkedIn.Suphi Cankurt
Suphi Cankurt, Turkey, Head of Sales in Cybersecurity
Suphi Cankurt enjoys working in an international setting. Originally from Turkey, Suphi worked in Budapest, Malta and Istanbul before meeting a Finnish woman and moving to Helsinki in 2014. Initially, he continued in his sales and marketing role at an Istanbul-based company, but soon landed a job at a Finnish technology company. But there was an idea Suphi wanted to pursue, and that was working more with his teenage passion: cybersecurity. To do so, he started his own company and has stayed in the sector since. In his free time, Suphi enjoys family time and has developed an affinity for sauna and Finnish summers.
Suphi appreciates the variety of forest routes for walking and biking in Helsinki.Suphi Cankurt
How I landed my current position is… after moving to Helsinki, I continued to work for the same company in Istanbul remotely and started to check out Finnish companies related to my expertise.
I applied to a couple of companies through their contact forms, since there were no open positions, and got a response from one of them. The CEO of this company was a very straightforward guy and offered me a job on the call. The following week, I started to work for that technology company. This is how I started to work in Helsinki.
What got me interested in cybersecurity is…I had been working in digital marketing for more than seven years at that time, and I was feeling a bit bored, to be honest. While thinking about the next move, I found my teenage passion, cybersecurity.
I decided to combine what I’m interested in (cybersecurity) and what I’m good at (business development) and started researching sales positions in cybersecurity companies. Soon I realised that there weren’t many options in Finland for non-Finnish speakers, so I focused on remote positions. Eventually, I got an offer from a US-based company.
Suphi feels there is a good safety net in Finland for entrepreneurs.Suphi Cankurt
I started my own company because… the US company that wanted to hire me didn’t have an office in Finland. So I established a toiminimi [private trader] and started working as a contractor.
Establishing a toiminimi wasn’t so complicated, even though the main part of the registration process was only in Finnish and Swedish. It took me about an hour with Google Translate. I continued with this setup almost for a year, then decided to convert my operations into a limited company [osakeyhtiö, Oy in Finnish].
What surprised me about being an entrepreneur… is how people react to it. When I decided to establish a company I always had my wife and close friends' support. However, I also noticed that it wasn't always a ‘preferable move’ among my Finnish friends. They didn’t see the risk-reward ratio as very attractive.
That might be the main difference I’ve noticed between Turkish and Finnish business cultures. In Turkey, people usually have a dream of establishing their own company from day one in their career, but when I told that I have my own company to one old-school Finn, you would've thought from the look on his face that I had said I have a life-threatening disease. I’m, of course, exaggerating a bit.
“After living in mega-cities like Istanbul, life in Helsinki has a cosy atmosphere.”
The Finnish cybersecurity sector is… I look at this from a sales perspective, and working in sales [in this sector] is a lot like riding a roller coaster. There are constant ups and downs, you are often left hanging, and your head will likely be spinning throughout the ride.
But Finnish society provides enough stability and a safety net to give you the strength and help to go through this journey. It’s great when you are ramping up your career that you can have all the support you need. There are well-established institutions like Business Finland and other organisations that you can turn to with questions in the beginning, on things such as taxation and funding.
The challenge that I have encountered and overcome while adjusting to my career life here in Finland is… related to the language. Even though the main contents of business-related authorities' websites are translated into English, there are forms and processes that need to be handled in Finnish or Swedish, and that makes things more difficult.
When the summer arrives, and the sun comes out, Suphi’s family spends their time outdoors as much as they can.Suphi Cankurt
What I enjoy most about living in Helsinki is … after living in megacities like Istanbul, Helsinki has a cosy atmosphere. I enjoy the comfort of a well-established infrastructure and system that gives you the headspace to focus on your own business. Basically, I tell my friends: Helsinki keeps its promises.
The hobbies that I have really enjoyed practising in Finland are… sauna is the number one event. I have weekly sauna nights with a group of friends during the winter. I have my skis and tried cross-country skiing a couple of times, but it definitely is not my cup of tea as a kid who grew up by the Aegean Sea.
Also, summer is a totally different ball game here! When the sun arrives in the land of Finns, you don't want to spend an hour at home. I take my kids to the beach during the day or enjoy kayaking with friends. We are also big fans of outdoor cycling as a family, and there are great forest routes in Helsinki.