Many companies are planning to internationalize – sometime in the future. HR Manager Arja Martikainen from games company Digital Chocolate has a message for them: when international skills are available, they should be recruited immediately. This kicks off internationalization.
Martikainen knows what she is talking about. Digital Chocolate has succeeded in what many Finnish companies are still dreaming about. Within a few years, the company has grown from a small business to an international success operating in six countries and selling its products around the world.
Based on her experiences, Martikainen encourages other companies to internationalize as well. The prerequisites are good. “We Finns have incredibly good language skills and a strong export industry. It could be even stronger, and we could sell our products more widely, if we considered international resources open-mindedly.”
Recruitment plays a major role in the success story of Digital Chocolate. Already in its early stages, the company was able to predict the rapid growth of the games market, which would require skilled labor force. There was not enough educated and games-oriented staff available in the Finnish labor market. The company turned its gaze abroad with the principle that they would hire the best – despite their background.
About a quarter of the employees at Digital Chocolate in Helsinki come from outside Finland. They include interns, foreigners who have come to Finland as students, and employees recruited directly from abroad, says Martikainen. The international staff works in a variety of tasks from product design to marketing and sales. “For example, Community Manager is a typical task in which we prefer to hire a native English speaker to serve large volumes of customers around the world.”
International employees see the world from the perspective of their own culture. This benefits the company: a person from elsewhere often finds the right contacts in his/her home country faster and also helps to avoid pitfalls that a product might otherwise encounter in a foreign market, says Martikainen.
“An international employee may, for instance, notice a feature in a product that would not be acceptable in any way in his or her home market. This may be, for example, an expression suggested by a translator that is absolutely terrible in its context. Sometimes you need to be a native speaker to know these things.”
The recruitment policy of Digital Chocolate has created a multicultural work environment where the employees truly enjoy themselves. Individual people are the best part of an international work environment. Someone may say that if he was not working in such a multicultural work environment, he would be abroad, says Martikainen. “Everyone brings their personal background into the work community, and there is something new to be learned from every culture. Each day is a small journey in a multicultural work community.”