Heli Ruotsalainen dentsu Southeast Europe

Our dentsu Southeast Europe Business Development Officer Heli Ruotsalainen writes how she ended up moving from Finland to our region, and to whom she recommends mobility.

The first day I joined dentsu in 2015 in Finland, I was told that with my CV I should consider mobility. The idea brewed in the background for years.

When I entered a dentsu top talent program in 2018, the idea come to the foreground again. I started getting hints from EMEA HR, and then a bit of a harder nudges as well to really throw myself to the opportunity of seeking new growth opportunities outside of the Nordic countries.

I am glad they pushed me so hard, and we started searching near and far for different job openings in dentsu’s 145 countries. But there was one problem. My skill set is quite unique, spanning from communication to content marketing, digital transformation, business consulting, paid and organic social media, media strategies to business development. It, or I, did not fit to just one box.

There was also a realization made in the process: I thrive most in an environment where I can do multiple things and have quite wide responsibilities as ‘Jack of all Trades’ or a generalist type. These types of jobs are seldom advertised but crafted to fit the organizations current needs.

Finally, we came to contact with leadership in Southeast Europe, found a good match with the needs and my skills, so I packed my dresses up and bought a plane ticket. I first spend 1,5 years in Croatia, and now have been in Romania for more than a year.

How dentsu supports career development

Not all career development is up or down, nor does not all mobility need a relocation. My career journey example of psychical location changing mobility is just of the ways dentsu encourages career development.

We encourage people to move between service lines like from creative to media, or to join a borderless virtual team. We encourage people to have wide set of skills and move between media disciplines: we have the most wonderful examples for example offline planners learning the tricks of the digital trade and vice versa.

We also look to offer increased amount of virtual teaming opportunities: our top talents can join into interesting projects around the globe to work for our clients in new ways through the integrated platforms we are launching.

In dentsu we also offer mentoring programs and the widest selection of online learning (more than 30.000 hours) for our people via dentsu University. Learning and developing is up to you: all are given minimum 40 hours per year for personal development, but it is of course up to an individual how much is needed and fits to a person.

Are you an introvert with grit? Consider becoming an expat!

So how it has been like living and working abroad? The best of times, but not always easy of course.

As per my own experience, I wholeheartedly recommend mobility to introverts: as an introvert you can be alone, but never lonely. If you are an extrovert, expat communities in social media are extremely active ones and groups meet also face-2-face all the time where you can make fast friends. And of course, your new colleagues will help.

Adapting to new surroundings is up to your own mindset. In any major city in the world, you can see the same movies, shop the same foods, have the same things delivered to your house and have in general the same hobbies.

What is the attitude you need? Grit, and perseverance.

I am faster, and wittier, in my native language, and sometimes it is frustrating to search for a word. On top of the language barrier, I find myself also still recalculating all sums into euros. Cultural learning is a massive part of the experience as well, and facing new traditions, ways of doing things, never mind the food & drink, is never-ending.

Thus, expat fatigue is a real thing and adopting into a new culture can be tiring. It can also be tiring due to belonging to multiple cultures at once: having ties to ‘home’ and rooting yourself at the same time to a new country. But what growth has ever come without some pain, right?

Of the practicalities, moving inside EU is extremely easy, so despite a small amount of the bureaucratic and stamp-filled physical paperwork is needed, possibly 1-2 visits to immigration police, it is quite swift to get a 5-year residency permit just automatically in another EU market.

For our industry, I think a few job families are as easy to move inside with as marketing communications, be in on the agency or client side. The same TV formats, planning principles, TRP’s, emphasis on Reach & Frequency, consumer journey basics is the same. Some human truths are 100% the same wherever you are in the world.


So, that's my story thus far, but what is next for me? Who knows! Another market, another region, another continent? Time will tell. 

I can wholeheartedly say that mobility was the right route for me to grow as a professional, and I am not missing my home country one bit. Ok, the Finnish salty liquorice candy that IKEA or any supermarket does not carry is frequently in my dreams, but I can get it delivered from Finland as much as I want 😉


Heli Ruotsalainen

dentsu Southeast Europe Business Development Officer

PS. You can follow my mobility journey in Instagram.