Working in more than 100 different companies in the Nordic countries, 200 V.I.E trainees (The French international trainee program) are participating to the growth and international development of these companies. Dimitri Mohit, V.I.E trainee at Crédit Agricole CIB in Finland, shares with us his experience.
In which company are you working and what is your role as a V.I.E.?
I enjoy working in Finland at Crédit Agricole CIB, which is a very well-established international financial banking institution in the Nordics with approximately 60 employees. Helsinki was the first branch of the French bank to open in the Nordic region in 1982, showing a long-standing commitment there. Additional branches were launched later on in Oslo and Stockholm, to strengthen the local footprint and better serve clients.
Currently in the Nordic Coverage Department, my team and I develop the business relationship with the largest Finnish corporates and help them to grow globally. We support them by offering a large range of products and services in capital markets, investment banking, structured finance and corporate banking. Our main responsibilities consist in preparing credit decisions, monitoring positions and analyzing the profitability of the business relationship.
As far as I am concerned, I assist corporate bankers in their daily missions to generate new revenue. This can be done by submitting new ideas, conducting company and industry research, and preparing pitch books. Then, I am usually in charge of making clients’ credit request and commercial review. I also coordinate the work with several business lines of the bank located abroad to arrange financial transactions, complete compliance procedures and fix problems.
Considering your background, what did you bring to your company as a V.I.E, what did this professional experience bring back to you?
From my point of view, I think that I have added diversity to the office in Helsinki. As I come from Reunion Island in the Indian Ocean, my teammates always ask me how the lifestyle in overseas France region is. Topics can cover economics, politics, habits, weather or food. I am very glad to share that with them as they are curious and want to discover and grow. Embracing cultural differences is much appreciated in the Nordics and that is fabulous.
This professional experience at Crédit Agricole CIB has completely broadened my view of the Finnish economy. I am now able to differentiate Finland, Sweden and Norway in terms of market dynamics. Working with Nordic corporates, I have gained a better picture of their needs. I am particularly impressed by their strong interest for the green financing products of the bank. An increasing number of Nordic players want to make a measurable impact on environmental and social issues for all stakeholders. This has completely raised my awareness about sustainability of our planet.
In addition to the commercial mindset and ability to work in team under pressure, I have developed a set of interpersonal and organizational skills by experiencing this position in Coverage. Something particularly valuable for my future career are in fact the multicultural management skills. For example, I have learned that silence is an integral part of the overall communication pattern. Finns are more comfortable in silence than most other nationalities. Mastering these business communication styles coming from several cultures will undoubtedly bring value to me in international contexts. This will obviously prevent me from making huge mistakes and saying wrong information to close deals in general.
How would describe your experience in Finland?
I do like it my experience in Finland, especially thanks to my amazing colleagues at work. Indeed, they have helped me at every step to settle in this new and unknown country. They are excellent in welcoming foreigners and caring about people. They even know the little details that will make your day better. They like sharing with you the cultural heritage of Finland. Huge thanks to them for making my stay a pleasant time.
I am fascinated to observe how Finland is a great place to live. The country offers a nice quality of life. Its operational and equal system has charmed all my friends visiting me here. Nature is rich and unpolluted. People always keep time for leisure and family. The country benefits from a clean, safe and secure environment. It propels a strong commitment to gender equality. Healthcare and education are free. I can understand now why Finland represents an attractive opportunity to work, as it is the happiest country in the world according to the United Nations in 2018.
Living in such a Nordic country is a unique period in one life course to experience something atypical. That is why I have decided to move to Finland. My aim was to experience the extremely cold and freezing winter full of snow. In addition, I always wanted in my childhood to meet Santa Claus in the North Pole one day. I like challenging and adapting myself to new standards in general, and I am not disappointed at all. I have exceeded my limits by trying the hot sauna and the cold plunge straight away. This kind of adventure helps you reinvent yourself.
What tips would you give to future V.I.E coming or wishing to come to the Nordics countries?
First tip would be to come to the Nordics with the appropriate equipment. It can be cold sometimes according to thermometer, but you will never feel it with at least a high-quality warm jacket, beanie and gloves. Invest in winter waterproof shoes to keep your feet warm and dry. Take your camera with you if you want to capture pictures of natural landscape, northern lights, and outdoor activities. Photos are the only souvenirs that we keep in our records for generations. To finish, bring with you some of your favorite French specialties (e.g. biscuit, chocolate, mustard or wine). These consumer goods, with the same quality as in France, might be rare or expensive.
Second tip is to get a taste of the local language even if the Nordic people speak very good English. You can start with basic words that people use every day such as "hello, thank you and excuse me". It is also possible to take for free an open online course for basic Finnish called “A Taste of Finnish” provided by the University of Helsinki. These programs are primarily intended for international university students and professionals relocating to Finland. If you become fluent in Finnish or Swedish, it should be normally easier for you to find a work and live there forever.