"Internationalisation is a mindset applied to all levels of an organization", Kirsi Korhonen
Meet Kirsi Korhonen, a true professional in international human resources. Internationalisation as a theme caught her attention over 20 years ago when she went to England for an internship. Since then, she has been actively helping international students and later professionals to set their foot in Finland. For the past 8 years, she has been working at the University of Helsinki in international human resources. Just recently, Kirsi started her own little consulting business called International Fox Agency. Her vision is to share her expertise and help organizations, which do not necessarily have the knowledge or the needed resources, with internationalisation and related activities.
Let’s talk about diversity with Kirsi. According to her, diversity is about taking perspectives into account. Given that we live in the era of digitalization and can’t know what services will be available in the next five years, it’s even more crucial to involve people of different cultures, genders and disabilities in order to get a broad understanding of the rapidly changing technological needs.
Kirsi believes that when work teams are diverse, it can improve an organization’s efficiency, innovativeness, help reach goals and even spot new spin-off possibilities. She refers to the University of Helsinki as an example, where top professionals are experts in their field of research. But once in a while, when a new person joins the university and sees things from a different perspective, some breakthroughs may happen even with ideas that are more than a decade old.
“Growing work environments requires the ability to adapt to changes from both the existing organization and the newcomer. In Finland, we are used to an independent way of working where employees are trusted to handle their work. Continuous interrupting and asking questions are seen as negative micromanagement. This is not the same in all work cultures. On the other hand, we have a lot to learn about giving and receiving feedback, especially in a constructive way.“ These are just a few examples Kirsi shared with us.
Differences create pressure for management when navigating teams through change.
She adds that change feels faster than ever before and includes global labour markets and cultural encounters. “Internationalisation is not for all and we should keep that in mind. If a company chooses to operate only in Finnish and on domestic markers, it is their decision and it should be accepted. But if internationalisation is part of an organization’ vision, it shouldn’t be about how many different passports employees hold. Internationalisation is a mindset applied to all levels of an organization.
Language holds an interesting part in it. If there are staff members uncomfortable with using English at work, the organization should support them with language training. Generally speaking, a language should not be an individual factor to pay attention to when recruiting. Recruiters ought to look at an applicant’s profile as a whole and focus on skills, competencies and attitude.”
Two tips Kirsi gives to individuals on how to build their career can be summarized in two words: networks and attitude. Finns don’t always appear to be social, but they are often interested in hearing stories of knowledge and skills from other individuals. What one can do on their own to push things forward and keep active is important- whether through a hobby, volunteering or something else. Kirsi also highlights that the basic challenges are the same for everyone - finding a super nice job doesn’t happen in the blink of an eye.
You can get to know more about Kirsi via her LinkedIn profile.