#StudentsofFinland: Collaboration, community spirit and it’s-up-to-us attitude can spark buzz in an unobvious sector of Finnish economy.

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Finland constantly secures itself a top place on the lists of best places to do business. However, this doesn’t seem to translate into growth as our national economy figures have been dismal for years and no change can be seen in the near future. We are Erika & Lauri, two Aalto students currently doing our small bit, as we joined last year a new community of people who believe changing this is in our hands. After having previous experience from e.g. student association roles, management consulting, startup buzz (“PÖHINÄ”) and think-tanks, this community was a natural continuation and an interesting mix of the different worlds.

We work currently at Kasvuryhmä, or ‘Growth Collective Finland’ — a community of 190 Finnish CEOs, chairmen and entrepreneurs of “not-so-small-anymore” companies with revenue between 10-1000 mEUR looking to turn their companies into growth gear. Our young non-profit venture was established 2 years ago, when 30 Finnish entrepreneurs and business leaders decided it was time to unlock the potential within the unobvious backbone of the Finnish economy, the midsized companies.

We know what you’re thinking — this sounds like your run-of-the-mill networking club or society for business leaders to sit and drink coffee together behind closed doors. While most of what we do is only amongst our members, we are by no means a club. Rather — a movement. Our members believe it’s up to them make growth happen. This means no more incremental efficiency improvements or repeating old recipes, but rather brave new business from fresh ideas and the global markets.

We call our members the hidden champions of our economy — and to be honest, we didn’t know much about them before we started working with them. However, they are a very valuable part of our economy: they make up the vast majority of our resources, patents, jobs and capital. Not much is spoken of them, but we think everyone should be aware of them. Not only because these everyday businesses, ranging from manufacturers of industrial products to IT and surprisingly familiar consumer brands, will eventually do the heavy lifting in revitalizing our economy. But also because of the power and excitement that is brewing amongst them – and we are personally amazed by the potential present in the community!

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Our members have all pledged to double their revenues in the next 5 years. This may not sound like much, but for companies with turnovers between 10-1000 MEUR, this is huge. More interestingly actually, the excitement that you hear when talking to our members is even better. Kasvuryhmä members exhibit a very un-Finnish, tangible thrill to start changing the way they do business. In a corporate culture where failure is often scary and questioning the status quo is ill-advised, these companies are redefining and crystallizing their purposes, taking brave leaps into new technology and thinking about how to become the best in the world at what they do.

Needless to say, we recommend our peer students at Aalto and all #StudentsofFinland to have a look at mid-sized growth companies as job opportunities. Even if you have heard of these companies before, they may not be on top of your mind when thinking about potential future employers. There are two reasons. First, it is reality that many “hidden champions” of Finland are not that good at promoting themselves (how typical Finnish, right?). In addition, they simply don’t have similar resources and employer branding clout as large-cap corporations and global professional services companies – many of which are present on campus almost daily.

But we aim at changing that, because in few places do the best parts of the entrepreneurial startup culture combine with the ample resources of established bigger players. Getting on board their growth journeys will guarantee responsibility from early on and a chance to test your wings in an environment where everyday decisions have actual scale!

Erika Noponen, 4th year economics major

Lauri Mikkola, “Soon-to-graduate” industrial engineering and management major

 

Want a chance to meet these growth-hungry CEOs and entrepreneurs and see what you could do on their teams? Join us at KASKI 16 to hear more about “not-so-small-anymore” growth companies and apply for our exclusive recruiting event at http://bit.ly/2dFzDhp. Application deadline is on Thursday, October 20th – only two days to apply anymore!

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