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Finns in Canada - Series: An Interview with Juha Koivula, Valo Solutions, Montreal - Embassy of Finland, Ottawa : Current Affairs

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News, 10/11/2018

Finns in Canada - Series

An Interview with Juha Koivula, Valo Solutions, Montreal

"The most intriguing part of this job – and my life in general – is interacting with new people and immersing myself in new cultures and languages." says Juha Koivula, the Business Lead of Valo Solutions in North America.

Juha Koivula, Valo Solutions

Blue Meteorite was established in Finland in 2001. The company develops digital methods, digitalizes business processes and provides online services. The Valo North America headquarters in Montréal was established to accelerate the growth of the company's award-winning product, Valo Intranet, which is designed to offer a convenient platform to fulfill all internal communication needs an organization might have. Today, Microsoft technology-based Valo Intranet has over one million happy users in 30 different countries.

"When I was asked to join the project I didn't hesitate." reflects Juha Koivula, who moved to Montreal in February 2018.

As Business Lead of Blue Meteorite's subsidiary Valo Solutions, Koivula is responsible for the company's North American market. His work consists of sales, marketing and partner support. It may be quite similar as in his previous position in Finland, but geographically this new posting has opened a completely new world for Koivula: "The most intriguing part of this job – and my life in general – is interacting with new people and immersing myself in new cultures and languages." he says. In addition to people and cultures, Koivula finds it interesting to work with new technologies and visual aspects. Challenges come from the rapidly changing nature of the business environment and from combining work and family life. Days often continue to the "evening shift", which begins when the children have gone to sleep. Work also requires travelling, which steals time from leisure and occasionally even from the weekends. However, Koivula finds the work itself so interesting and rewarding that it doesn't feel too tiring. Sometimes it is also possible to combine family holidays and work trips, which provides a great solution for everyone. All in all, Koivula is pleased with the current situation because the only factors determining the balance between work and leisure are the sales targets, family and his own health. "Today, for example, my oldest son turned six and we all went to the movies. The screening started already at 3.30 pm and we were the only ones in the cinema!" Koivula explains.

With family at the Old Car Exhibition in Terrebonne, Quebec

With family at the Old Car Exhibition in Terrebonne, Quebec

"Montreal is a fantastic place to live."

One of the reasons behind Koivula's decision to move to Canada was a positive experience of working with Enerflex, one of Valo's Canadian clients. He describes Enerflex and his Canadian customers in general as very friendly and polite, yet extremely professional and assertive. The same description applies to the US where a fair bit of Koivula's work takes place. "In a short period of time, we've made many new friends and seen lots of interesting places both in Canada and in the US", he reflects.

Koivula and his family live in Montreal where summers are warm and humid and winters brisk and snowy. The culture in Montreal, and in the whole province of Quebec, is a mixture of North American and French. The only official language of Quebec, French, obviously comes from France but so does the cuisine. Koivula praises especially the bread. Driving in Montreal, for its part, is not the most pleasant thing because of the numerous ongoing roadworks, but subway is convenient. "All in all, Montreal is a fantastic place to live", Koivula says.

Valo's team at Mont-Tremblant

Valo's team at Mont-Tremblant

"People know many fascinating details about Finland, such as our weird language, dark winters and the high number of Formula 1 drivers per capita. Also the fact that nearly no one has met a Finn face to face, let alone visited Finland, creates almost a mythical image of our country here."

Finnish ice-hockey players are famous in Canada, in Montreal especially Saku Koivu. Otherwise Canadians and North Americans know Finland from its world-renowned school system, free healthcare and equality, which are admired and seen as an example for the rest of the world. According to Koivula, "people know many fascinating details about Finland, such as our weird language, dark winters and the high number of Formula 1 drivers per capita. Also the fact that nearly no one has met a Finn face to face, let alone visited Finland, creates almost a mythical image of our country here."

During his first year in Canada Koivula has noticed the same thing that he already discovered in his travels before this posting: one learns the most about oneself and one's home country while being abroad.  "My roots are in Finland where I've spent the first 30 years of my life. Finland has places and people that I have a strong emotional connection to and experiences unique to Finland. I can't really objectively compare Canada and Finland with each other but right now Canada is a great place for me and my family to live and I think we will stay for a long time. "

Read more about Valo Intranet: www.valointranet.com

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Updated 10/11/2018


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