IT’S ALL ABOUT LEARNING
Valamis is a global IT company specialized in the digitalization of learning. Founded and headquartered in Joensuu, Valamis has offices across Finland, in addition to the US, UK, Netherlands, Germany, and Russia. Previously known as Arcusys, Valamis develops a Learning Experience Platform used by companies such as Amadeus and NASA Epic Challenge.
The UEF Business School has been happy to cooperate with Valamis for several years already. Many trainees have had the chance to experience the exciting work environment of a fast-paced IT company, and a few alumni have also found permanent employment in the company. The roles and duties of the UEF trainees have varied from HR to sales to marketing, and the students have been eager to experience the international atmosphere as well as the unique organizational culture that has also been officially recognized as one of the best in Europe.
FROM ROOKIE TO SALES REPRESENTATIVE
In 2019, the collaboration between UEF and Valamis took a new form when a new traineeship programme, the SDR traineeship programme, was established. SDR stands for sales development representative and it describes the role that Valamis was looking to find students for, to fill a gap in the initial stage of the sales funnel.
One of the students that was accepted was Joona Ryhänen, who at that time was finishing his studies in Service Management and who is now currently employed by Valamis.
–In early 2019 I received an email from the faculty staff saying that there was an open internship position at Valamis. I was so excited when I heard the name of the company. Even though I didn’t know much about the company yet, I remembered one lecture where some local companies were presenting themselves. Valamis (or Arcusys at that time) was not there, but I remember the company representatives referring to Arcusys saying “we are doing well but Arcusys is at a whole other level.” I wanted to find out what that company was all about.
Joona had also completed some IT studies, thanks to the freedom to choose almost any minor subjects that UEF has to offer. He started his internship in April 2019 together with 2 other students.
–We formed a separate team inside the sales unit and we focused on finding customers. Obviously, during the first weeks, we were learning everything we possibly could about the company, the product, and the business model - well, about the whole world of digital learning - before we started prospecting potential customers, reaching out to them, and booking meetings.
Immediately after joining Valamis, Joona noticed the warm and encouraging work atmosphere that attracted him in the first place was truly there.
–Everyone gave us a warm welcome, and there was a nice structure in the familiarisation period as we completed introductory tasks in the company’s own learning environment. One of the tasks was, for example, to have lunch with our CEO, Jussi Hurskainen. I think that highlights the fact that there is no hierarchy.
TRUST IN MANY FORMS
Gradually the interns started to get the hang of things – and the learning curve was steep.
–We learned a lot from the senior salespeople, but at the same time, we were given a lot of freedom to try out different things without having to ask our supervisors for permission. I felt trusted. And when you are trusted in, you can also commit fully to your job. I still remember the excitement when I was going to my first sales meetings in Helsinki, to talk to “big bosses” who do big investments. However, I didn’t feel like an intern but rather a valuable link in the company.
Another special moment that Joona recalls was when he made a cold call to a company that had never heard about Valamis. After the first call, Valamis got an invitation to participate in a tendering process that would have been missed without Joona’s effort. Such achievements were noticed by the management and Joona got the opportunity to continue in the company, first with a part-time contract, and after finishing his thesis he is now part of the permanent crew. His role has slightly changed as he is now working as Inside Sales Representative, being the first point of contact for Nordic customers who reach out for Valamis.
Joona thinks that the UEF Service Management studies have given him a lot of valuable insight into the sales work and most importantly educated him in building the key element in his work: trust.
–In Service Management, we study trust a lot. And trust is what my day-to-day job is all about – being in contact with customers all the way from the first point of contact to a closed deal. Our sales processes may take up to one year, so building trust is really essential. Courses that covered topics like trust in management, intangible assets, and HR have proven to be very useful in my current role.
All in all, the internship programme was an opportunity for Joona to envision himself as a salesperson and find new strengths.
–I didn’t necessarily see myself as a salesperson at the beginning of my studies. But B2B sales is so much more than selling: you really have to master the product and the field you operate in. It’s about confidence and perseverance, and about finding your own way of being a sales professional. This kind of traineeship programme is an excellent path towards that.
FROM STUDENT TO THE WORKFORCE
Like stated in the course description of the Master’s programme in Service Management, “in the future, competitiveness will be based more and more on knowledge, human intellectual capital and competences, and continuous renewal. Hence, managing intangibles such as the development of trust, co-operative relationships, identity, and cultures in the organizations will be emphasized in these studies. Additionally, social skills, team and co-operation competencies, and the identification of the strengths of an organization are key issues in these studies.”
This seems like a good match to what Valamis values in their employees.
–As a Joensuu based company, we want to help the local community by providing job opportunities for students from UEF. Not only do we want to create opportunities, but also we have found the students from UEF to be well equipped for their traineeships. We have had very good experiences with the UEF trainees like Joona, the SDR trainee that grew into a skilled salesperson in a very short time. What we really value in our employees is the attitude: we value team spirit and because we are a learning company, we truly value the willingness to learn. Most importantly, we are looking for trainees and employees who fit into our unique company culture. I think the UEF Business School educates and prepares students to enter the workforce with this kind of mindset, says Maria Vihtkari, Chief Human Resources Officer from Valamis.
For UEF, it’s inspiring to cooperate with such a successful, international company – one of the “flagship companies” in the Joensuu area.
–We are extremely happy to see that our students have had very rewarding traineeship experiences and that they also keep on contributing to the success of Valamis as employees. It shows that our studies give a good foundation for many kinds of future business challenges, says Sari-Johanna Karhapää, amanuensis at UEF Business School.