My career: From start to Finnish

My profession: From begin to Finnish

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Initially from Bologna, Italy, Silvia Gaiani describes herself as a Bolognese with a suitcase and a bohemian gypsy deep in coronary heart. Previous to shifting to Finland, she labored for a number of worldwide organisations and universities everywhere in the world, together with as a marketing consultant at The Meals and Agriculture Group (FAO) of the United Nations.   

Twenty years in the past, desirous to study an unique language, Silvia determined to go for Finnish, taking a course on the College of Bologna. Later, she moved from Italy to Joensuu, Finland, for her post-doctoral analysis however had to return after it was full. Years later, when a dream place opened in Seinäjoki, she returned to Finland to guide floor breaking analysis within the discipline of meals innovation and entrepreneurship in South Ostrobothnia 

The rationale I ended up in Finland is… my love story with Finland, which started a very long time in the past. I began studying Finnish on the College of Bologna one thing like 20 years in the past. Solely three college students at the moment have been attending the Finnish class, and I discovered it intriguing. I needed to study a brand new language and for me Finnish sounded unique sufficient to offer it a attempt. What I knew about Finland at the moment was that it was the land of reindeers, Santa Claus and aurora borealis (I nonetheless chortle after I take into consideration how ignorant I used to be!).

In August 2021 on the College Consortium of Seinäjoki, Silvia gave a presentation on the subject of entrepreneurship and innovation in sustainable meals programs in South Ostrobothnia. Picture: Fb / Ruralia Institute

I took two exams in Finnish, and I beloved it! However then I forgot about my Finnish for a very long time, till I noticed an commercial from the Italian Ministry of Overseas Affairs that was providing scholarships to post-doc researchers prepared to do their analysis in Finland. I discovered it fascinating, however at the moment I had no connection to Finnish universities. So, I did some on-line analysis and despatched emails to professor Erkki Sutinen, who was finishing up analysis within the discipline of ICT for a improvement challenge in Joensuu. He replied to my emails, and I ended up working on the College of Japanese Finland as a post-doc researcher (at the moment it was nonetheless the College of Joensuu). Erkki was (and nonetheless is!) actually an excellent, sensible, enthusiastic individual who taught me rather a lot, additionally about Finland. I fell deeply in love with the nation, with Finnish meals, particularly Karelian pies and Finnish bread cheese (leipäjuusto), its forests and silence, and the easy-going way of life in Finland.

When my analysis interval ended, I used to be very unhappy to have to return to Italy. I swore to myself that sooner or later I might return to Finland. The chance occurred this 12 months in January, when after a variety course of I was nominated to be a senior researcher at Ruralia Institute in Seinäjoki. To me, it was like a dream lastly got here true!

What I take pleasure in most in my present work as a researcher is… having an opportunity to take part and contribute to an vital historic interval in regional improvement by way of my analysis actions. I am main a five-year analysis on meals innovation and entrepreneurship in direction of a sustainable transition at Ruralia Institute, which is a part of the College of Helsinki. The main target of my analysis is on South Ostrobothnia, the area with greater than 110 meals corporations. A few of them are actually large Finnish corporations, like Valio, AtriaAltia, however the majority of them are simply small, family-run meals corporations, which make use of between one and 4 individuals.

Sky and oats growing in the field

In accordance with the Regional Council of South Ostrobothnia, the area performs a key function in meals know-how improvement and safety of provide in Finland. South Ostrobothnia can also be a significant hub of the Finnish meals business. Picture: Nina Harjunpää

South Ostrobothnia known as the meals province of Finland. At present, there’s a lot occurring within the area when it comes to entrepreneurial actions, new enterprise fashions and new insurance policies. On the similar time, native corporations are dealing with numerous challenges, together with excessive manufacturing prices, a low degree of internationalisation and a lack of networking actions amongst corporations. I discover my analysis extraordinarily fascinating: it comes at a time when South Ostrobothnia goes by way of a brand new improvement section and attempting to determine the best way to enhance competitiveness whereas opening up to innovation, particularly within the meals business.

Throughout these 5 years, I am answerable for bringing tangible outcomes to the area and actively supporting native meals corporations in changing into extra sustainable, revolutionary and resilient.

I was really honoured when Sami Kurki, Director at Ruralia, known as me on the cellphone and mentioned: “If you’re nonetheless on this job, it’s yours!”

The principle variations in working life in Finland in comparison with different nations the place I’ve labored are… To me, Finland is one of the best place not solely as a spot for work, but additionally, on the whole, as a spot for dwelling and having a household. Finland has topped the World Happiness Report, and I can see why. Individuals discover pleasure in little, intimate issues in life, taking one of the best from it and having fun with an amazing welfare system and efficient insurance policies.

It’s additionally a very protected nation. I can not keep in mind what number of instances I’ve left my cell phone or pockets someplace and located it! Finland is full of pure beauties, and it has glorious working situations. Typically, working atmosphere within the nation is characterised by low hierarchy, excessive autonomy of staff, equality and co-operation.

A group of people holding flowers

Silvia and her fellow researchers from the South Ostrobothnian College Community (Epanet). Picture: Nina Harjunpää

And, after all, salaries are larger in Finland when in comparison with the nations in Southern Europe. Individuals working in Finland take pleasure in such advantages as sick leaves, when their little one will get sick, in addition to lengthy maternity leaves.

Having mentioned this, I’m above all enthusiastic in regards to the working atmosphere at Ruralia Institute. I really feel a part of a household the place everyone seems to be supportive and inspiring, the place I have a possibility to develop and study whereas doing the job of my goals. I really like the weekly conferences I’ve with the director, espresso breaks with colleagues and the chance to depend on an glorious skilled community.

Between Joensuu and Seinäjoki, to be trustworthy, I’ve not seen large variations. I used to be informed that folks in South Ostrobothnia have been a bit shut and conservative, however I’ve solely met pleasant and open-minded individuals. Although my Finnish may be very poor, each single individual I’ve met has tried his or her greatest to know me, assist and be welcoming.

The qualities that worldwide abilities can carry to the Finnish office are… Finland doesn’t have an extended historical past of internet hosting worldwide migrants, and I do know that now there’s a large debate occurring about the necessity to entice extra employees and, on the whole, extra expertise. I believe work-related immigration might enhance Finland’s employment, carry financial development, compensate for a scarcity of labour power and help the ageing inhabitants. I additionally suppose that immigrants can profit rather a lot from working in Finnish workplaces.

A person sitting at the desk and speaking into the microphone

Earlier than shifting to Finland, Silvia labored for a number of worldwide organisations and universities everywhere in the world, together with as a marketing consultant at The Meals and Agriculture Group (FAO) of the United Nations. Picture: Giuseppe Carotenuto / FAO

I anticipate that sooner or later we are going to see a rising variety of Finnish corporations run by foreigners in co-operation with Finns, extra combined and worldwide marriages, and extra individuals prepared to maneuver to and stay in Finland. I need to say that among the many many foreigners I’ve met whereas working in Finland, not one has gone again to their residence nation.

Finland’s strengths for sustainable meals system transformation are… immense. Finland is a forerunner when it comes to insurance policies and laws. For instance, Finland is the one nation on the earth to have launched a nationwide meals analysis mission for 2035. The Finnish meals system relies on sustainable, versatile and aggressive meals and feed manufacturing. The nation is a pioneer in sustainable meals improvements and runs pilots on analysis, improvements and new working strategies for sustainable meals programs.

A group of people sitting at a table with a large screen behind them

For a number of years in a row, Meals Enterprise Summit in Seinäjoki has been attracting entrepreneurs, researchers and builders working within the meals business. Picture: Into Seinäjoki

Within the coming years, primarily based on the Finnish innovation ecosystem settlement, Seinäjoki will promote the sustainable regeneration of the meals ecosystem and an clever regeneration of the meals business. One in every of my goals is that sustainable meals transformation is accompanied by a rising curiosity within the Finnish meals tradition and the promotion of its delicacies. If this occurs, I believe Finland will dominate the meals scene sooner or later!

The phrases of recommendation I might have for somebody serious about shifting right here for work is… carry some heat garments and anticipate the surprising. Finland is the land the place you’ll be able to see your goals coming true.

What I take pleasure in most about Seinäjoki and South Ostrobothnia is…  that the town affords good providers and loads of actions to do with children. I really like farmers’ markets on the principle sq., and I really like spending time within the library which was designed by Alvar Aalto. Aalto has positively left his imprint on the town of Seinäjoki.

The organisations which have supported my analysis pursuits in Finland are… Seinäjoki has no universities and due to this fact a really peculiar “tutorial” historical past. In 1960, the College Affiliation of South Ostrobothnia was constructed to offer university-level schooling (summer time colleges, largely) and to advertise analysis work, improvement and co-operation within the discipline of higher-education coverage within the area. In 1999, the South Ostrobothnian College Community (Epanet) was established with the purpose of forming analysis teams of top of the range on the branches wanted in South Ostrobothnia – welfare and creativity, sensible know-how, sustainable meals options, entrepreneurship, and development.

A river and office buildings located on its shore

Silvia’s workplace is situated at FRAMI, the most important workplace and congress constructing advanced in Seinäjoki, the place many native tutorial, analysis establishments and regional improvement corporations have their places of work. Picture: Nina Harjunpää

My place is an Epanet professorship, partially sponsored by the College of Helsinki, but additionally by numerous South Ostrobothnian municipalities and a few meals corporations, together with Valio and Atria. The main target of my analysis is on meals, sustainability and innovation within the area. I discover the Seinäjoki College Consortium a novel and profitable mechanism that has been in a position to strengthen the native tutorial society and create hyperlinks between lecturers and the regional financial system. I additionally love the concept that the campus established in Seinäjoki is so vibrant – it combines universities, enterprises and public authorities. There are at all times fascinating occasions to attend and many individuals to community with!

The hobbies that I’ve actually loved practising in Finland are… I really like going to forest, choosing mushrooms and berries. I particularly just like the everyman’s proper in response to which you’ll be able to go open air and even choose berries from a forest with out the necessity to ask permission from the landowner.

Hands holding a cup of blueberries

Selecting tasty forest treats is one thing Silvia enjoys doing in her free time. Berry choosing can also be a standard passion for a lot of Finns. Picture: Harri Tarvainen / Go to Finland

I take pleasure in taking lengthy bicycle rides (in Italy you danger your life every time you soar in your bicycle), having a sauna after which splashing right into a frozen lake. However I didn’t choose any of the intense sports activities for which Finns are well-known: I’ve competed neither in a mosquito-swatting competitors within the northern city of Pelkosenniemi, nor within the Air Guitar Championship.

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