Moi from Finland! We are Team Tekes and we’ve been lucky enough to work on a multi-country IBD project this year. After two weeks of in-country research in China (Shanghai and Beijing), we’re in Helsinki now to present our deliverables to our four Finnish clients seeking to enter the Chinese market.

Finland has been a refreshing change – literally. The pollution in China was pretty bad such that Patrick and I developed a very impressive cough, but now we’re breathing fresh air and walking the clean, cobblestone streets of Helsinki. I’ve been to many places in Europe, and similarly, all the buildings here are grand and beautiful. We’ve also enjoyed being in a great timezone, as Jessica and Stephanie got to watch the UEFA Champions League final and celebrate in FC Barcelona’s victory at a local pub.

After several months of hard work – Jessica, Patrick, Stephanie, and I all feel a great sense of accomplishment. Our clients were very happy with the results of our work and thankful for the thorough analysis and actionable recommendations we provided them. To recap, our Tekes project was a bit challenging because our client was a government funding organization that brought in four additional clients. In the end, we ended up doing four projects with very little overlap. In any event, we found a way to get through the project and deliver five amazing presentations over three days! The core curriculum at Haas really prepared us well to handle an international strategy consulting project and it’s amazing how many classroom lessons we applied to our work. One of our clients was so grateful that he immediately took us out for celebratory drinks, “kippis!” (this means cheers in Finnish). He may also be taking us out for a wild night on the town on Friday, Finnish style! 😉

After all the interesting food we had in China – we had dumplings, noodles, duck, and donkey – we’ve moved onto traditional Finnish food. Here we are enjoying local specialties of reindeer, elk, and bear (…oh my!). We all agreed that the bear was a bit hard to eat, but we’re glad we tried it!

After we submitted our final deliverables – our main client at Tekes also arranged for a traditional Finnish dinner on Särkkä Island, about a 10 min ferry ride outside of Helsinki. This beautiful island and restaurant we were at are actually recognized as a UNESCO heritage site. Historically, this island was used as a military outpost, as there were cannons all around the perimeter of the island. The restaurant that we were eating at was formerly used to store cannonballs. The floor of the restaurant was slightly slanted so that the cannonballs could be easily rolled from one end to the other. This was a first-class meal where we had… reindeer, again!

Finally, I guess I should mention that June 2 is a national holiday here in Finland. When we met with the Finnish Embassy in China, the person that we met with told us that this was a religious holiday. However, the meaning of this holiday has gotten lost over many years so it’s simply just a day now to take a break and relax =) Since we finished our project a bit early and most of the places here are going to be closed today, we decided to head over to Tallinn, Estonia for the day!

—Aaron Tang

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