Tapio, EPSE’s China expert

Yi Fang or Tapio, as we call him in Finland, came to Finland already a few decades ago to study. After having an MBA degree, his path led to work life and he has been working nearly 20 years for Finnish companies, either in Finland or as an expat in China. Today Tapio is EPSE’s Solution Manager.

In December 2019, before the corona virus emerged, EPSE’s CEO Jouni Jääskeläinen and Tapio were on a business trip in China. Jouni flew back to Finland in early January, and Tapio stayed back to arrange some business affairs. Nobody at EPSE or anywhere else could expect of what happened next: The pandemic turned the whole planet upside down and as a result Tapio is still living in China to this day. EPSE’s people emptied his apartment in Ylöjärvi when it started to seem very unlikely for him to come back. Tapio and his wife had a daughter last year, so it has not been all bad being forced to move back to China, however.

Tapio is still living in China to this day.

< Tapio in EPSE’s Lab, photo taken in 2019. 

According to Tapio, business in China and Finland are quite different, at least when it comes to two aspects: Firstly, the social cultures and languages are very different. This means different ways of thinking and different ways of doing. In China, opinions and comments are expressed typically indirectly, and furthermore differently in the public and private. Comparing to in Finland, it is harder in China to catch people’s points correctly and understand people’s true thinking. This also means that establishing local network is very important for business in China. Second, according to Tapio, Chinese economy is still developing. This means that in China companies are more various and complicated compared to in Finland and building trust is still a developing process. In China, local governments review companies quite loosely so all kinds of companies are mixed up. Also, different types of companies have different internal relationships and own interests to do business and projects. This requires understanding of local conditions, careful investigation and examination of potential business partners, and long-term follow-up of those business partners in order to secure stable cooperation and finance.

In China, opinions and comments are expressed typically indirectly, and furthermore differently in the public and private.

Tapio’s days are filled with searching for potential business partners, strengthening local relationships through communication, making visits to local business partners, and helping and supporting them. Searching for information and scrutinizing details are important and time-consuming tasks. According to Tapio, the biggest challenges when working 100% remotely from across the world are how to maintain strong sense of work responsibility and passion for work, and also how to build up and develop trust between EPSE Finland Headquarters and local Chinese business partners. During the outbreak, there has also been difficulties in the communication of business personnel between countries. Tapio notes however, that when located in China, it is of course easier to establish EPSE’s external image and trust with local partners and also easier to contact and support local networks and business partners. Tapio has a very characteristic, dedicated view for work: giving priority to company’s work is a way to tackle the challenges, according to him.

EPSE’s development possibilities and opportunities are big in China. EPSE’s technology is innovative and unique, potentially strong competitive in Chinese environmental protection market, which is enormous and growing. China is in a quite good position to fight the epidemic and local companies’ operations have showed a steady rising trend – in 2020 China was the only country in the world that has increased in international trade business. With the introduction of global vaccines, the difficulties caused by the pandemic will eventually pass, and cooperation on projects will definitely grow in China. EPSE needs to be prepared for that.