As we end our journey across the Nordic countries, each of us have decided to reflect on our trip and what we took away as most valuable.
I write this as I sit in the airplane flying over the United States, just hours from home. While I am ready to go back to the states and see my family I am also sad to say goodbye to one of the best experiences of my Chapman career.
After 14 days, 4 cities, 3 counties, and 16 company visits, I can honestly say that I have learned many things about international business and have found that there are many different avenues of careers within the job market.
Conversionista! was by far has to be my favorite company visited in the entire trip. They specialize in e-commerce conversion rates and getting the consumer to “click and purchase”. I found their office space in Stockholm cozy and somewhere that encouraged a steady, productive, and creative work flow. I found it most interesting when John Eckman (CEO) said that the brand managers of the companies they help do not like them and that their ideals often clash. As someone who is looking to work in branding, I found that Conversionista would only help brad image as they reflect simplicity and anything that makes the consumers life easy is a win for the company and will most likely end with retention. This definitely the type of company culture I will look for when applying to jobs in my field.
The startup scene in both Tallinn and Helsinki is definitely more than on the rise. I was very impressed by how pro-active each company was and how accepting the industry culture was of what startups have to offer. Normally, startups are slow to market and do not have a strong following within months of launch. It seemed that every startup we visited launching only months ago and had thousands of buyers/users behind them. It I refreshing to see each of these cities adapt and welcome these companies with open arms and encourage young minds to put their dreams into reality.
At our departure dinner we had the pleasure of sitting down with Peter Carlsson, who has a decorated background in the Scandinavian market and currently invests in the startup scene. He left us with some advice as we go back home and there was one point that really stuck with me:
“It’s always more fun working in a business that is growing compared to one that is stale or stagnant”
I will always remember this as stability sometimes does no always mean happiness and that we should remember to follow our hearts sometimes.
After all is said and done, I would like to give a final thanks to our professors Niklas Myhr, Clas Wihlborg, and Debra Gonda for planning this once in a lifetime opportunity. The trip will be one I will never forget and the friendships formed will be ones that last a lifetime.
What a trip to Sweden, Estonia and Finland! Our group had our fair share of adventures. Overall it was quite an amazing trip and I am so happy to have been a part of this experience.
Culturally, there were so many differences and similarities-each of which were surprising in and of themselves. Overall, the main difference that I found between American and Scandinavian corporate culture had to do with openness, trust and transparency. My experience growing up within the States has been not to trust large entities. This doubting nature has followed me to my accounting profession. We as auditors are taught to have a high degree of professional skepticism when it comes to trust. What struck me most about the various countries we visited was the high level of trust with regards to government and their involvement in everyday life. There is a high level of trust and transparency within the governments, which seems to set the tone for how the business arena is run.
I want to just share a quick recap of a couple of our visits and what I took away from each of them:
The Lindholm Science Park: Not only is this place an architectural beauty, but it also has the ability to facilitate various functions (government, business and school) ingeniously under one umbrella. This was a new concept to me, one that I think will be more common in the future. This open environment is welcoming to new ideas and breaks down traditional business barriers. This idea of pulling others up with you as opposed to stepping on others in order to get to the top is something that will stick with me within my business career.
We had previously mentioned that American Bank culture and Riksbank seemed no different. While I do still agree that these two banks share a stiff and protective nature, common within the banking industry, upon further reflection, the level of transparency incorporated within Riksbanks culture is a notable difference. The fact that Riksbank publishes their meeting notes and minutes for the public to see, enforces this endeavor towards transparency. Most companies, let alone banks, would never do this in America because of “security reasons” or maintaining a competitive advantage. As mentioned earlier, in the U.S. there is a lack of trust for many institutions including and not limited to government and banks. I was amazed to see that a free and open exchange within the banking industry is possible. I am curious if the U.S. will ever be able to adopt this idea or if the lack of trust will forever hinder this?
Thank you all for making this such an incredible journey!