What we can learn from Finland by Cathy Sandeen

Know your strengths. Have priorities and a plan. Seek out knowledge. Go global.

I recently attended a dinner at the home of the Consul General from Finland, Los Angeles, Kirsti Westphalen. The dinner brought together heads of Finnish start-up technology companies, faculty from the UCLA Anderson School of Management, and individuals from Tekes, the Finnish Funding Agency for Technology and Innovation.

I am very impressed with Tekes and the way dedicated attention and resources can make a difference in a national economy. Hoping to match the success of the Finnish giant Nokia, the goal of Tekes is to support research and development, business development, and globalization of a broad range of Finnish business enterprises.

Finnish scientific and technological innovation has been historically very strong, but the country realized it needed to learn from others to expand knowledge and skills in the areas of business strategy, global marketing, and leadership. From a country with one of the strongest educational systems in the world, I am gratified that Finland turns to UCLA to expand its knowledge and effectiveness.

The Finnish companies were in Los Angeles to participate in UCLA Anderson’s Global Access Program, where teams of MBA students help companies analyze a strategic business issue.

I’m connected with Tekes in a couple of ways. I was invited to make a presentation on Green Marketing and Environmental Consumerism in the US at Tekes in Helsinki last May, click on the title for a PDF of that article.

In addition, over 30 Tekes managers and directors have completed the UCLA Extension Technical Management Program, a five-day intensive program offered twice a year designed to boost leadership abilities.

Again, what can we learn from Finland? Know your strengths. Have priorities and a plan. Seek out knowledge. Go global. Great advice for us all.

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One response to “What we can learn from Finland by Cathy Sandeen

  1. As the longest serving instructor at UCLA Extension’s Technical Management Program, I have had many Tekes managers attend my courses on strategic planning. I became very impressed by how Tekes does environmental scanning by soliciting multiple stakeholders concerning their views of the future. One year they did extensive interviews with CLERGY members — an unusual group for most industrial organizations like them to consult with. But their rationale was sound and forward-thinking — they wanted to better understand the changing values, hopes, and fears of the population. Brilliant!

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