Exporting Finnish Education Expertise to India with Cultural Intelligence

Dr. Narashima Boopahti Sivasubramanian and CEO of Finpeda, Mr. Pasi Mattila are exporting Finnish education expertise to India.

With the population of over 1.3 billion and a growing interest in high-quality education, India is attracting education specialists and service providers. Oulu-located education innovator Finpeda Ltd. has been providing its expertise to India led by Dr, Narashima Boopathi Sivasubramanian.

The growing interest in the quality of education in India means that there is demand for services such as Finpeda’s educational innovations. But in order to reach the enormous market, there is a need to understand the specific demands of the large and diverse country, where every state has its own languages, traditions and cultures, and where religion plays an important role. In short, there is need for cultural sensitivity to do business in India successfully.

This is the reason why Finpeda Ltd. cooperates in the PoDoCo program with Dr. Sivasubramanian, whose doctoral dissertation in the Department of Management, University of Vaasa in 2016 dealt with “Managing across cultures with Cultural Intelligence Quotient (CQ) – Study of Finnish business leaders experience in India”. It focused on Finnish leaders who are operating business in India and investigated differences in organizational cultures and leadership practices.

Understanding the Market

Narashima Boopahti Sivasubramanian – also known as “Boo” for short – received PoDoCo grant in spring 2018 from Finnish Cultural Foundation. At this juncture Dr. Sivasubramanian works with Finpeda Ltd. to expand its business services to Indian market.

Indian educational system is widely different and diverse compared to Finnish educational system. For example, it is majorly teacher-centered. Culture plays a huge role in terms of learning behavior and therefore one needs to be culturally sensitive while providing solutions for Indian schools.

“Finpeda Ltd. develops innovations in education, pedagogy, architecture and technology. Together with our customers we design and implement the best learning environments both physical and virtual in the world – and India is one of the biggest and now rising market with lots of need. Of course, price level between countries is challenging, but this is also the key reason to do business planning and think how to scale our product in vast market like India. For Finpeda it is essential to get both practical and research-based understanding about Indian market and customer needs, to further develop its service portfolio. It is a kind of Living Lab collaboration to test our innovative learning environments in new education market and create business plan for them”, says Mr. Pasi Mattila, CEO of Finpeda.

PoDoCo Helps in Expanding Business

Along with scientific expertise, Dr. Sivasubramanian has the advantage of coming from the state of Tamil Nadu, South India, and thus having a head start for understanding the diversity of India. To Finland Sivasubramanian came in order to continue his studies in Vaasa in 2006 – changing his permanent job and pleasant climate in Chennai to student life and a flat in the outskirts of Vaasa. The beginning was not easy. It was not only for the weather, but for many things, for example at that time the local stores’ selections of vegetarian food were not as diverse as nowadays. The growing network of friends slowly pushed aside the doubts of having chosen too difficult a path. PoDoCo Program has reinforced Sivasubramanian that he has done the right decisions.

“I’m thankful for receiving the PoDoCo grant, because it made me feel that my expertise is appreciated”, he says. Furthermore, Boopathi says “there are many talented foreign PhD graduates in Finland whose expertise can be very helpful for Finnish companies. Through PoDoCo program Finnish companies should make use of those talented PhD graduates from abroad who can help Finnish companies in developing business in their respective countries. Therefore, I strongly recommend Finnish companies to be associated with PoDoCo to find international talents”.