The Tampere Ambassador of the Year: Great workers should be hired regardless of their background!

Hiring the first foreign employee can be challenging for a Finnish company. ‘It is, however, a challenge worth accepting’, states the Tampere – All Bright! Ambassador of the year 2016, Aleksi Pulkkanen.

The Tampere – All Bright! Ambassador network is a volunteer-based network coordinated by Tredea, the Tampere Region Economic Development Agency, whose members market the Tampere region to their international contacts. Aleksi Pulkkanen, the COO of Agendium Ltd, has been a part of the network for almost two years, since its establishment.

– Since the beginning, my main mission has been to connect the local companies and the international professionals in Tampere. It is an activity which benefits both the companies and the people, says Pulkkanen.

Mayor of Tampere & Tampere Ambassador
The mayor of Tampere, Anna-Kaisa Ikonen, awarded Pulkkanen as the most accomplished Tampere Ambassador in 2016. Photography: Mari Taverne.

Hiring the first foreign employee can, in Pulkkanen’s experience, be challenging for a Finnish company, due to having to coordinate two different languages and cultures. Nevertheless, if the best candidate is a foreigner, in Pulkkanen’s opinion it is a challenge worth accepting.

– In my experience a new team member who comes from a different background gives the whole team a boost – and the best teams are versatile, not homogenous.

When it comes to the internationalisation of a Finnish company, hiring a non-Finnish employee is a rational step. When the team assumes a more international grasp, usually the shift to international clients is also facilitated. Pulkkanen wishes that more companies understood this, so that the international expertise in the region would not go to waste.

– While working with the Talent Tampere mentoring programme, I have come to realise that there are so many great foreign people who have a hard time finding work in the Tampere region.

Tampere – All Bright! Ambassador network organised a business development event in Tampere
In November 2015 the Tampere – All Bright! Ambassador network organised a business development event in Tampere. Aleksi Pulkkanen was one of the speakers at the event.

Agendium is a software company established in 2013 that helps its clients to work in a smart and digital way. The company’s internet applications currently have about 6000 users. Pulkkanen has been able to combine the work of the Tampere Ambassador with his day job effortlessly.

– For example in client meetings Tampere often comes up, since we are a Tampere-based company. It is usually quite natural for me to bring up in a conversation that I am a Tampere Ambassador and that anyone can contact me if they have any questions concerning this region.

The questions will be answered with the help of the Tampere – All Bright! Ambassador network, which consists of both Finnish and foreign members. They are all connected by their wish to promote Tampere as a great city for business, study and travel. Those who are interested in Tampere can find a personal connection to the region through the network.

– A possible scenario could be a representative of, for instance, an Indian company contemplating a business expansion finding an individual with knowledge of Indian culture via the network. When this individual tells the representative what Tampere has to offer, the company can find its way here.

This, of course, works both ways, as the Ambassadors can also ease the internationalisation of local companies. It is much easier to take a company to India with the help of a person immersed in both Indian and Finnish cultures and habits. In order to facilitate finding suitable connections, Pulkkanen has created a Tampere – All Bright! Ambassador map.

The award ceremony of the Tampere – All Bright! Ambassador
The award ceremony of the Tampere – All Bright! Ambassador of 2016 at the Tampere City Hall. Photography: Mari Taverne.

Being a Tampere – All Bright! Ambassador has always also been about the opportunity to network and collaborate with like-minded individuals. At the moment the network consists of approximately 80 people. The emphasis in expanding the network has not been on quantity but on quality, in order to find people who can really commit to being an Ambassador. Pulkkanen encourages everyone interested in the network to join, as he believes that there are plenty of prospective Ambassadors out there.

– It is interesting that so many people in Tampere have a very personal relationship with this city. People really want to promote this place, Pulkkanen says.

–> What is Tampere - All Bright! Ambassador network?

Translation: Translatum

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