1/7/2021 | Author: Tampere Talent Ambassadors

"Somebody needs to break the ice."

Raami Arkkitehdit is a Tampere-based architecture company with around 3 MEUR in revenues. Since their inception in 2000, they have focused mainly on hospitals and healthcare projects all over Finland. Even though the projects are local, their workforce, on the other hand, is rather international.

“We have 7 international talents working in our team of 37 people”, informs Rami Kolehmainen, CEO of the company. The first international hire took place in 2015, and back then, Rami was excited and scared both at the same time. “The best candidate at that time was originally from Brazil who was studying at TUT (now TUNI). Our challenge was how to assess the experience the candidate already had in Brazil”, recalls Rami.

Lack of means to assess foreign experiences is not the only challenge in hiring international talents. Architecture industry requires Finnish language and knowledge of related Finnish regulations to succeed in the business. Since the projects are in Finland, customers expect to communicate in Finnish. Moreover, let alone international talents, even Finnish graduates usually have no clue on aligning regulations with their work at the beginning of their careers.

In Rami’s opinion, work talent, expertise on tools, and knowledge of Finnish language are three legs of a stool. He argues, “As long as two legs are good, we can always find a way to fix the third one.” Raami Arkkitehdit have been sponsoring all the Finnish language courses being taken by international talents. They are also starting to assign experienced mentors of choice to the younger talents so that they can support growth and learning through multiple development discussions addressing personalized needs and goals.

At Raami Arkkitehdit, international talents not only bring their expertise and talents but also bring in their personalities. Rami appreciates the fact that his international employees do not hesitate to ask questions. Due to this courage, he believes that international talents have lifted the level of architecture and design process. “We have an open space office so the threshold to ask questions is low. The fastest way to learn is by asking questions, and in our company, no question is a stupid question”, he explains.

Even though Raami Arkkitehdit do not have written values, Rami sheds some light on the implicit values within their team. “We have been successful in creating a workplace that is equal, open-minded, happy, and respectful.”, emphasizes Rami. He believes actions like assigning the nicest part of the work, like the first drawings instill confidence and also helps in retaining the talents in the company.

For companies that are yet to open their doors to international talents, Rami’s suggestion is: “List out the things you are worried about, assign them a risk-rating and add the respective probabilities of these risks becoming a reality.” In his opinion, there should not be any assumptions or hesitations in hiring international talents. For the first hires, he thinks strong support might be required to integrate with the team and build the base before harder tasks can be assigned.

From international applicants, Rami appreciates complete honesty and an open-book approach when discussing ambitions, intentions, and motivations. He suggests international talents to be proactive in making contact (not just through applications) with the companies, and not wait for the companies to contact them. He urges internationals to apply also to those companies where there are no international talents yet. He summarizes, “Somebody needs to break the ice.”

Rami claims that he is a person who is shy and afraid to ask questions. With his actions though, he has proved that he is rather the opposite. He is a bold change-maker who has put his faith in international talents where he could have easily looked in the other direction and blamed Finnish language and Architecture regulations as deterrents. With his hiring actions, he has implicitly raised the question to other companies, ‘If we can, why can’t you?’.

Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment of Finland has participated in the financing of the project. The project contributes to the goals of the national Talent Boost programme.

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