International experts for the good of the Tampere city region

Donna Kivirauma and Tuomas Pahlman.​
Donna Kivirauma and Tuomas Pahlman.​

A mathematician from Ukraine, an economist from France, a lawyer from Turkey... International experts are a diverse resource that is still underutilised by the businesses of the Tampere city region. Twinkle 2015 is an event that brings together experts and businesses.

Donna Kivirauma and Tuomas Pahlman each steer Tampere-based businesses that operate and strive to grow on the international market. Donna’s TeamUp is a company that is revamping sponsorship culture. Its fan engagement service strives to engage athletes and artists, among other talents, and their fans and sponsors in social media – regardless of nationality.

“When you want to develop a product and then market it globally, it requires international experts,” says TeamUp CEO Donna Kivirauma.

Tuomas’ TTS-Ciptec optimises the washing systems of dairies and breweries, or in his words, “analyses how to wash up efficiently on a large scale”.

“It was obvious to us that when we headed for the French market, we would hire a French national to assist us,” says TTS-Ciptec CEO Tuomas Pahlman.

Internationality produces ideas

Donna Kivirauma moved from the United States to Finland for family reasons in 2009, and found out that even a world-class marketing expert from abroad can find it very hard to find employment here. Volunteer work in fundraising produced a business idea: something is needed to bring together fans, talents, and sponsors in a natural way. In the United States, that something might have been Donna’s own established network, which she built over time, but the new environment required new methods.

“The TeamUp concept was created as a solution to the challenges that I faced here in Finland,” says Donna.

Internationality keeps producing fresh ideas at TeamUp. According to Donna, the company is and will continue to be Finnish, but its product is being developed in an office in Tampere with a global perspective. Donna reckons that the company has people from around ten different countries. Their multiculturalism is part of the company strategy.

“Think of the functionality in TeamUp that enables fans to go and support their favourites, for example. It did not seem very necessary from the Finnish perspective, but our partners, who come from a few different countries, said that it must be included – and now pages and pages of these support messages keep flooding into the service.”

It takes the French to know France

Tuomas Pahlman worked for months to find the first French employee for his company, touring different events, explaining the company concept and asking about suitable people.

“If a company wants to go abroad, it must acquire international expertise somehow. We did it by recruiting immigrants who had moved to Finland,” says Tuomas.

Especially for SMEs, just one successful choice of personnel can be significant for the company’s growth. Tuomas wanted an employee for TTS-Ciptec who has good command of the French language, French business culture and local contacts, and can also sell and develop business. His tenacity was rewarded when he found a French immigrant to be the company’s Sales Manager.

“At best, approximately half of our personnel, around 15 people in total, have been foreign, and it has been very useful in opening new markets,” says Tuomas.

Twinkle is about working together

Donna and Tuomas have helped organise the Twinkle 2015 event. In December, it will bring international experts and company representatives under one roof. The aim is to allow them to work together to resolve the challenges that companies face in their international and rapidly changing operating environment.

“At the event’s workshops, we can put our heads together to figure out things like what prevents companies from using foreign personnel, and what should be done about it. If you would like us to discuss solutions for your special internationalisation problem at the event, you can contact us at any time,” Tuomas says.

The event is being organised by volunteers. Donna and Tuomas are happy to find enough time for the arrangements in their calendars.

“This is about corporate responsibility. If you want something to happen in the region, you can wait for others to do it or you can take part in resolving the issue,” Tuomas says.

“Finland and the Tampere city region can do even better than they are doing at the moment, for example in the export market. I want to help make sure that it happens, and Twinkle is the best way to do it,” Donna says.

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Twinkle 2015 will be held at Tampere Hall on 7–8 December. The event is being organised by the region’s international community with the help of the Tampere Region Economic Development Agency Tredea and Talent Tampere. Read more: twinkletampere.fi.

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