TLDR: I am an expert in the internationalization of higher education, particularly between Finland, Nepal and Vietnam. I can help you with go-to-market strategies and finding the right partners. Or if you’re based in Finland and looking for a reliable partner, look no further.
I worked in a Finnish University of Applied Sciences from 2005 until 2018. I started as a Lecturer on a temporary agreement and after a few years gained a steady position. At my resignation in 2018 my title was Senior Lecturer. I also held the position or Project Manager from 2014 to 2016.
I became the International Coordinator for Asia in late 2012. This was due to my predecessor’s retirement and my own eagerness to take on the position. I had made my Master’s thesis in Nepal and traveled around South Asia for half a year, plus I had worked in another evaluation project involving Asian partnerships.
Between 2013 and 2018, you could say I had a pretty good idea of everything that happened between our institution and the vast continent of Asia. During 2016 to 2018, I also handled African and European cooperation and mobility duties.
I think for most of us some places just become more special than others. For myself, Asia and especially South Asia has become really significant. At some stage I used to call Nepal my second home.
When I first started as the Asia coordinator, I felt I had landed my dream job. But from day one I reminded myself:
”Sami, you don’t own Asia.”
And that was a wise hint, as I did have a problem of identifying myself too much with work and all the things I felt passionately about. Things tend to go wrong when you start to become too protective of your area of expertise, wanting to be an irreplaceable nexus.
Most of the time I did well. In what I consider our golden years our International Affairs team built process after process of sustainable partnerships and innovative international learning processes. We received recognition from national and international partners, donors, monitoring agencies and auditors.
Personally, I was able to become a reliable key person to our partner institutions especially in Nepal, Vietnam and India but also other countries. I was able to sustain the networks others had built before me, create some new initiatives and finally to also secure a major funding for capacity building in Vietnam and Nepal.
Despite these successes, I also made a lot of mistakes. For several years I think I really over-emphasized my own significance in the development processes. I thought I was brilliant but received honest critique of not understanding even trivial project management questions.
I became too drunk on my status and position. I felt I needed to prove so much to others as well as myself that I made some painful mistakes. Accepting responsibility for my failures has been a long process.