View of the Forbidden City in Beijing

Big Apple to Forbidden City

In today's interconnected world, organisations understand the importance of embracing diversity and cultural exchange in the workplace.

AFRY stands at the forefront of this movement with its office transfer programme, allowing employees to relocate to different offices for a few months at a time. This programme not only helps employees expand their professional skills but also encourages them to explore new countries, work in diverse environments, and learn about different cultures. In this article, AFRY's consultants Silja Papinaho and Michael Riffel reflect on their time and experiences in this programme.

From the snowy landscapes of Helsinki to the towering skyscrapers of New York

The bustling streets of Manhattan, the towering skyscrapers, and the fast-paced lifestyle create an atmosphere like no other. Silja, a consultant in AFRY Management Consulting's Packaging and Tissue team, transferred from Finland to New York at the beginning of 2023.

I chose my destination based on the opportunities I believed it could offer. I wanted to experience a different working culture and expand my skills and market know-how outside of Europe. North America met these criteria and seemed like a natural choice for me. I had travelled to New York before, and I knew that the city's hustle and bustle would be a great environment for me.

Before leaving, I was mentally prepared for the stereotypical American consulting firm culture, which, according to my prejudices, included extreme 15-hour working days in addition to working on weekends, but also a thriving social professional scene. Fortunately, only the latter was true. The working hours were reasonable, I was involved in extremely interesting projects and the local colleagues were so welcoming, helpful, and amazing in general that it was hard to leave all that behind when it was time to return.

AFRY’s set of values is well present at the New York office as well as in Vantaa. The colleagues I have had the honour of working with are talented, bright-minded, and brave people who share the mindset of making an impact and striving for a better tomorrow. I was delighted to see colleagues from many different cultures and backgrounds working in the North American team and pleased to see that the bioindustry sector had also attracted so many female experts.

From scenic Bavaria to the heart of China and back

Beijing is a city where tradition and thousands of years of history meet a thriving, modern culture. Michael, a Senior Consultant in the Wood Products Team, had the privilege of staying for five months in China right after the zero-covid policy was lifted.

Since my team regularly receives client requests involving the Chinese surfacing and wood-based panels market, the office exchange offered a brilliant opportunity to understand the market better with my feet on the ground. Data available from statistics are limited and often contradictory, so it is necessary to talk to people locally in order to understand how to interpret them properly.

Having already spent more than one year in China in total previously, I knew roughly what to expect. However, the cities in China are changing so fast that even eight years after the last time I visited Beijing, some parts were new to me (as back then). When talking with friends or colleagues, the picture of a heavily polluted sky and city were still in their mind, but now the exact opposite was the case. Beijing presented a blue sky and many parks and recreation areas.

Probably one of the only aspects that had not changed was the supportive and open-minded attitude of the Chinese. This was plainly visible among the colleagues in Beijing, but also in Shanghai and Jinan. From day one, I was integrated into the team and welcomed, no matter whether it was in the energy or the bioindustry business unit.

With my colleagues, I went to visit multiple conferences and industry events. Since my Chinese skills are limited, they helped me translate, and, together, we managed to get valuable insights into the market dynamics.

Uniting and strengthening AFRY’s working cultures

AFRY’s Nordic roots have instilled a collaborative and inclusive work culture that transcends national borders and resonates with AFRY employees worldwide despite geographical and cultural distance. While the working environments in New York and China may differ, the underlying thread of AFRY's working culture, built on collaboration, integrity and excellence, remains consistent.

Through this programme, AFRY not only creates opportunities for personal and professional growth but also fosters a cohesive global community that thrives on diversity, shared values, and a collective pursuit of innovation and success. The programme enables the mutual exchange of expertise and innovative concepts between the transferee and the transfer office, thereby enhancing the overall value derived for all.

Sunset view of the Manhattan skyline in New York

Office transfer stories | AFRY Management Consulting

At AFRY Management Consulting, consultants can apply for internal office transfers in any of our locations. Office transfers range from 3 months upwards at the location.