solvay oy voikkaan tuotantolaitos

“My Finnish colleagues told me to give Kouvola a chance”

Every year foreign workers arrive in Kouvola. One of them is Egwin Warnier, who moved to Finland in 2016.

Egwin Warnier has been working for Solvay Group for 15 years in total. He began his working career for Solvay while still living in his hometown Zwijndrecht, which is located near Antwerpen, northern Belgium. Belgium with its population of roughly 12 million people can be divided into three distinct areas based on language and culture: the French- and German-speaking south known as Wallonia, the capital Brussels, and the Dutch-speaking region known as Flanders, where Warnier also hails from.

From Saudi-Arabia to Finland in service of the Solvay Group

Egwin Warnier

Warnier worked for Solvay for eight years in Belgium before being transferred to a new hydrogen peroxide plant in Saudi Arabia. There Warnier met some Finnish co-workers working at the same site. The headquarters in Belgium requested Warnier to reinforce the staff at Voikkaa plant in Finland, due to the establishment of the Saudi plant exceeding its original schedule. Warnier seized the opportunity and moved to Finland with his whole family in 2016 when his children were only two and four years of age. To this day he still works for Solvay Chemical Finland's plant in Voikkaa, where he works as plant site buyer. Although Warnier partly uses English as his day-to-day language at work he feels at home in Kouvola.

”It is easy to become friends with Finnish people. At first it might feel that they have a thick shell and that they are hard to approach but once you have earned the other person's trust and befriended them, people open up about themselves more easily”, Warnier says. ”The Finnish way of interacting is often without small talk and getting straight to the point, which may come across as strange to many foreigners”.

Although Warnier has lived in Finland for a long time and speaks fluent Finnish he admits that studying Finnish was not without its troubles. ”Had I learned some other Western European language, I surely would have gotten off a lot easier. When I began to study Finnish I had to forget everything I had learned about languages until that point and completely start from scratch.” Still, despite its difficulties, Egwin thinks learning Finnish is worth it. ”If you want to land a job in Finland then you have to learn Finnish. In Finland you get bonus points when you talk to Finns in their mother tongue and show that you want to integrate into the surrounding society.” Warnier ponders.

Egwin along with his family certainly wants to integrate into the surrounding society. The Warniers bought a home package, the construction of which began in August, 2022 and is set to finish by April this year. The Warniers have prior house building experience in Belgium, where they purchased an old house that they renovated in its entirety. Although Warnier appreciates Finnish engineering and use of lumber in building, according to him, bureaucracy and permits consume considerably more time when compared to Belgium. ”The home package has worked well for us and the service has also been good like service in Finland in general”, Warnier states.

”Don’t let the cold stop you from visiting Finland”

While Egwin has settled down in Kouvola and enjoys his life here he does not rule out the possibility of moving elsewhere or switching to another job. There are also some things that he misses from his home country and wishes he could have them in Kouvola: ”Compared to Belgium there are very few restaurants in Kouvola and in Finland in general. Also groceries and beverages cost up to two or three times more here”, Egwin sums. Likewise Egwin has noted some things that he wishes his home country of Belgium could learn from: ”In Belgium school- and work days can last, on paper, from eight in the morning until five in the afternoon. In reality school- and work days there last much longer. When I studied in University of Oulu, a majority of the students and professors had already left the campus by four in the afternoon. I wish we could have it like this in Belgium. Another thing, where I would like to see a change in Belgium is decision making. In Belgium due to regional differences among other things it is difficult to make decisions. In Finland decision making is easier because there is only one people, one common language and culture where people are more accepting of making a compromise.”

”It is great that Finns are proud of their country and united. This is how a better future is created for everyone", Egwin says.
He also encourages increasing diversity at work places. ”Diversity brings new ideas and viewpoints to the table from which Finnish work places and work culture can learn from and develop.” His message for those thinking of coming to Finland is: ”Don’t let the cold stop you from visiting Finland”. Egwin himself has commuted to and from work year round in all weather on his bicycle. ”I believe that sometimes I have more sisu than Finnish people.” Warnier laughs. ”Luckily in Finland when it is -30⁰C I can wear many layers of clothing whereas in Saudi Arabia I could not take any clothes off even in +50⁰C heat.”

Article photo and text: Oskar Wilenius
Published in March, 2023

Scroll to top