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Culture coaching supports internationalisation

Julkaistu 31.07.2012

Act 21: Culture coaching

Culture coaching has been selected as the 21st of Oulu’s ‘100 Acts’. Culture coaching is a service that was launched at the beginning of 2012 by the University of Oulu. The service is targeted at businesses, organisations and associations in the Oulu region that operate internationally or are planning to do so. Culture coaches are international students who have received training to provide coaching in the culture of their home country. The coaching is provided in English.

Culture coaching is the brainchild of the VALOA project, which aims to promote the employability of international higher education degree students, and NISO ry (Network of International Students in Oulu). The service helps organisations to improve their cross-cultural skills and the international interaction and communications skills of their staff. Coaching makes internationalisation and meeting new cultures easier. The coaches’ areas of expertise include international business, organisational management, ICT, environmental technology, international relations and multi-cultural education.

Cultural ambassadors from 11 countries

Eleven international students who come from Brazil, Spain, Greece, Russia, Pakistan, India, China, Indonesia, Vietnam, Taiwan and Japan are participating in this pilot project that has been launched in the Oulu region. The culture coaches are required to have work experience from their own countries. The students selected also speak English, they are comfortable performing in front of a crowd, they are motivated and committed to culture coaching.

The culture coaches provide a variety of information about the culture of their homeland, but the main emphasis is on working culture and communications in working life. Culture coaching is provided in small groups, in the form of workshops or one-on-one discussions. The coaching is tailored to the customer’s needs and wishes. The price is determined by the form of the coaching and the preparation required. However, the fee is very nominal, as basic coaching will cost a company about EUR 50-100.

The coaching sessions provided this spring have received excellent feedback and there is obvious interest in this kind of service in the target group. The culture coaches are highly motivated and dedicated to the coaching – and this is plain to see: customers have praised the coaches for their background work and preparations.

The project has been given the green light to continue at the university, and culture coaching and the training of new coaches will continue as a service coordinated by the University of Oulu’s Learning and Research Services. Other universities and universities of applied sciences in Finland have also expressed interested in the concept.

For further information, go to

Bärbel Fink, University of Oulu’s Learning and Research Services,