Singapore as Pan-Asian base for Finnish companies
‘Both countries are perceived as neutral and able to deal with multiple large countries that often have difficult issues with one another. Without this cultural sensitivity it would not be possible for small nations to make it.’
Question: Having moved specifically to Singapore to boost relationships and contacts with key clients, how has that worked out for you? Has Singapore been a good base to do this?
Pekka Lundmark: Singapore is a very good Pan-Asian hub for building relationships across the region. This was definitely a good choice. In addition to meeting a lot of customers in the middle of the growth markets, it is a very healthy experience for a multinational company CEO to observe from the field how one’s own company operates.
Q: What is the advantage of Singapore for European companies wanting to develop their operations and presence in emerging markets?
Mr. Lundmark: Good infrastructure, transparency, safe for the family, excellent schools, competitive taxation, fast in and out through a fantastic airport.
Q: Have you found it easy moving from the more Scandinavian business culture of Finland to Singapore? What challenges and benefits have you found?
Mr. Lundmark: Of course there are cultural differences, for example in leadership and communication styles but there are also interesting connection points.
Both countries have understood the critical importance of education as a source for competitiveness for a nation. Singapore and Finland are both small countries with only 5.3 million people, surrounded by superpowers. This has created certain cultural adaptability and ability to deal with multiple business styles and operational cultures.
As a result, both countries are perceived as neutral and able to deal with multiple large countries that often have difficult issues with one another. Without this cultural sensitivity it would not be possible for small nations to make it.
Q: If I can ask you to extend it a little, what are the thoughts of other Finnish companies that have set up in Singapore or are considering doing so? Is there a clear demand for this do you think? Why?
Mr. Lundmark: There is a clear demand from Finnish companies to build positions in Asia. Of course all companies make their own decisions, but I believe that Singapore will be a natural choice for many. The key concern to watch is that the cost level does not get too high. As long as that stays under control, there is only one way: up!
Q: What are your thoughts on the cross flow of investments between the two countries and how can they help to build better ties? Would and should there be more such investments and what would you say to other Finnish companies as well as Singapore companies perhaps considering investing in Finland?
Mr. Lundmark: I think there are multiple complementary interests between Singaporean and Finnish companies and I believe we could benefit more from each other. We need to do more reciprocal marketing so that companies become aware of the possibilities. It would also be good to further intensify contacts between public sector leaders.