From ordinary schoolboy to fan of Asia
By Bahk Eun-ji
Tuomas Koskinen, 26, is in the Global MBA program at Yonsei University. The student from Finland, who studied business administration in his home nation, said he was just a regular school boy and nothing much interested him before he went to Japan in 2009. His interest in East Asia stemmed from Japanese popular media until he found his focus on Korea, which prompted him to take the MBA here. He is now doing an internship at Finpro, a global consulting organization helping Finnish people and companies open businesses in Korea this summer.
1. Tell us a bit about yourself. What made you come to Korea and Choose the GMBA course of Yonsei University?
― I always focused on business studies during my academic career as a Bachelor of Business Administration in Finland. I was more interested in “hard” topics, such as finance and accounting. Later, I came to be more intrigued by “soft” topics including strategy, organizational behavior, project management and leadership. As I am an MBA student in Korea, I am also very interested in the global aspect of business especially focused on North-East Asia.
My interest in Asian culture started in the early 2000s when a friend of mine introduced me to the Japanese popular media. I was hooked by it instantly and as this curiosity evolved, I became more interested in the language and the culture as a whole. During this time, there was only Japan in my mind. While I was studying as an exchange student in Japan in 2009, I met some Korean friends and that led me to visit Korea for the first time. It was love at first sight.
People communicated more directly and openly. Namely, the Western influence in Korea made me think that Korea could be the place for me to settle down. My mindset switched from Japan to Korea at last when I visited Korea for the third time, and I started to look for a graduate school in Korea.
2. How do you think education and life as a student in Korea is different to in Finland?
― Traditional education differs a lot. We emphasize active involvement, communication, and teamwork and our group sizes are a lot smaller in Finland. For example, speaking ability is more important in Finland, whereas vocabulary and grammatical precision are more important in Korea.
― At Yonsei, however, most of our Korean professors have had most or some part of their education abroad and we also have many visiting foreign professors, which makes the course international and quite similar to the ones in Finland.
3. What makes a successful MBA course of study? Do you have anything that you wish you had known before you pursued MBA education?
― In my case, I would say effort is the most important element. It is a Finnish characteristic to play yourself down, but I do not consider myself extremely book-wise. This is why I compete by putting in more effort. I wake up early in the morning and come to the office and put in extra hours to review materials from my course or Korean. I am not a straight A student but I believe I have been doing well with my course work and school life.
I wish I had a stronger competence in Korean. After graduation, I would like to work and stay in Korea for a long time. Fluency in the local language is essential if the one wants to completely join the local community.
I have been putting in extra effort to learn Korean but if I had known the language better than I do now, I would have achieved more personally as well as academically.
4. Do you think you can apply what you’ve learned here in Finland?
― I think Finnish people are getting more interested in Korea in terms of business opportunities and vice versa. So far, there is only a basic level of knowledge about Korea among Finnish people but I believe I can apply knowledge of Korean corporate culture and theories from various fields of study into my every-day work life. This relationship also works the other way around, as what I learn at work can be applied to my studies, papers, presentations and so on. The mutual interest between our countries is rapidly increasing, which might create future opportunities.