Being Estonian in a Finnish company

TALLIN When I enter at 9.30 am in the office of 3 step IT – a service company managing the acquisition, use and replacement of computer equipment  –  all employees are already busy with their daily tasks. Also Anu Põldmets (34) and Taie Kull  (28) are intently looking at their computer screen. Both Estonian girls are working for the Finnish company in the heart of Tallinn.

By Anneke Hermans

Anu Põldmets - Back office assistent 3 step IT Photo: Anneke Hermans

Since when are you working here in this company? Why did you choose to work in a Finnish business?

Taie: I’ve started working here in september 2006. I studied Finnish language, so working in a Finnish business was a good opportunity for me. Before I got this job as a back office team leader, I worked in a small Estonian company.
Anu: I arrived here a few months before Taie, in January 2006. I’m the back office assistant of 3 step IT. I’ve studied secretary work. Before I started working here, I also worked in an Estonian company. I like working here in this international environment. It’s also a big company, and I like that. It gives you more future perspectives. I’ve never studied the Finnish language though, but I’ve learned it by watching TV, especially bold and the beautiful, and children series. (She laughs and looks at Taie)

Did you have to follow a certain training before you started working here?

Taie: Yes, we had to go to the headquarters in Vantaa, Finland. We got an information session about how everything works. After that, we got 2 or 3 days to practice under guidance of the Finnish employees.
Anu: Every year we get a training with the whole company in different places in Europe. Besides that, we also get a lot of briefings, but they mostly happen over Skype.

Taie Kull - Back office team leader Photo: Anneke Hermans

What is – according to you – the biggest difference between a Finnish and an Estonian company?

Anu: I have the feeling that in Finnish businesses, the rules are more strict and in place. If a rule is set out, it hardly ever changes. While in Estonian companies rules are more flexible.
Taie: I also think that a Finnish company is stricter. That’s good so you know where you stand and where your place is.

Are there opportunities you get in a Finnish company that you won’t get in an Estonian business?

Anu: I have the feeling that working for a Finnish company gives me new knowledge.
Taie: Finnish and Estonian people have a similar culture, but still we are different people. It’s nice to be a part of this mix.

Estonia was like every other European country hit by the financial crisis. Still it has one of the fast growing economies in the EU. Do you think Finnish businesses have something to do with that?
Taie: Yes, I certainly think they help us getting out of the crisis. New opportunities come if we get support from other countries, like Finland. They create new chances for us, new possibilities.

Read the article about Finnish businesses moving to Estonia

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