“If you want to work in Oulu, belie­ve in your­self and push hard”

Man at Hailuoto ferry

Vik­tors Sobo­levs came to Oulu from Lat­via, and stu­died at Oulu Uni­ver­si­ty of Applied Sciences. Now, he works as a busi­ness pro­duct mana­ger at Polar.


My name is Vik­tors Sobo­levs, 28, and I was born in Riga, Lat­via. At the age of 16, I moved to Fin­land to stu­dy at Sot­ka­mo IB High School.


I cho­se to attend Degree Pro­gram­me in Inter­na­tio­nal Busi­ness at Oulu Uni­ver­si­ty of Applied Sciences (Oamk) over the Uni­ver­si­ty of Oulu because Oamk prio­ri­ti­ses prac­tical skills.

In 2014, my girlfriend and I moved from Sot­ka­mo to Oulu to stu­dy at Oamk. She was accep­ted to the health care cam­pus, whi­le I got accep­ted to the busi­ness cam­pus to stu­dy inter­na­tio­nal busi­ness. We wan­ted to move to a city that was rela­ti­ve­ly com­pact and had all the essen­tials; hence, Oulu was the first choice for us.

Whi­le stu­dying at Oamk, I gave many pre­sen­ta­tions with my class­ma­tes. This undoub­ted­ly hel­ped me to deve­lop the abi­li­ty to col­lect my thoughts and fin­dings into a short and pre­sen­table form. At my cur­rent workplace, Polar, I give many pre­sen­ta­tions to dif­fe­rent sta­ke­hol­ders.

I took a few begin­ner Fin­nish cour­ses in Sot­ka­mo, and seve­ral more at Oamk. To be fair, des­pi­te pas­sing all my cour­ses with good gra­des, I didn’t progress much in lear­ning and unders­tan­ding Fin­nish; this was part­ly my fault, as I didn’t have a strong moti­va­tion to learn the lan­gua­ge at that point.

My most sig­ni­ficant progress whi­le lear­ning Fin­nish hap­pe­ned when I star­ted lis­te­ning and inte­rac­ting with my col­lea­gues during mor­ning cof­fee and lunch breaks. Des­pi­te English being our com­pa­ny lan­gua­ge, the majo­ri­ty of people who speak the same mot­her ton­gue switch to it whe­ne­ver they have a chance.


Oulu is a com­pact city whe­re you can find almost eve­ryt­hing you need in dai­ly life. My girlfriend’s and my cam­puses were loca­ted one kilo­met­re away from our dor­mi­to­ry in Välk­ky­lä stu­dent vil­la­ge, which was very con­ve­nient.

The most shoc­king thing I disco­ve­red about Oulu was that people cycle in it all year, even when it’s ‑15 degrees or col­der out­si­de. The cycling infra­struc­tu­re in Oulu is excel­lent; you can easi­ly get from one side of the city to anot­her by bike at any time of the year.

I’m very much into sports – cur­rent­ly, triath­lon. I also like avia­tion and tra­vel­ling. When I lived in Oulu, I played at Oulun Rei­pas as part of a foot­ball team that com­pe­ted in the local fourth divi­sion.

Regar­ding Fin­land in gene­ral, I apprecia­te the hones­ty displayed by most Fin­nish people. I also want to high­light the country’s clean tap water; this was new to me when I moved from Lat­via.


Whi­le stu­dying in Oulu, I wor­ked at SOL as a clea­ner. Polar Elect­ro, the place whe­re I did my stu­dy-rela­ted prac­tical trai­ning, was one of SOL’s clients, and I was­hed the win­dows at Polar’s HQ a few times whi­le drea­ming about get­ting a job the­re.

After finis­hing my prac­tical trai­ning, I was offe­red a per­ma­nent posi­tion at Polar. My cur­rent job tit­le is busi­ness pro­duct mana­ger. In this posi­tion, I’m res­pon­sible for Polar’s high-end sports and out­door watc­hes.

In my posi­tion, I work with the Research & Deve­lop­ment, Mar­ke­ting, Sales, Cus­to­mer Care and many other teams, and I’m invol­ved in pro­duct concep­ting from Day 1 all the way to the ramp-down at the end of the product’s lifecycle.

This posi­tion is new to me, as I just moved to the Busi­ness Pro­duct Mana­ge­ment team a few months ago. Pre­vious­ly, I led Polar’s glo­bal social media team, as well as wor­ked in various other mar­ke­ting-speci­fic posi­tions.

Cur­rent­ly, my girlfriend and I live in Espoo. We moved the­re in 2019 after both of us gra­dua­ted.


My first job in Fin­land was deli­ve­ring adver­ti­se­ments during my first year of high school. My first full-time job came through Polar after I finis­hed my prac­tical trai­ning.

If you are cur­rent­ly thin­king about whe­re to do your prac­tical trai­ning, I strongly recom­mend choo­sing a place whe­re you’d be inte­res­ted in wor­king much lon­ger than your prac­tical training’s dura­tion.

If you real­ly want to live and work in Oulu, belie­ve in your­self, push hard and don’t for­get about networ­king. Try to attend various work-rela­ted meet-ups orga­ni­sed by Business­Oulu.

Like stu­dent life, work life is a cons­tant lear­ning process. First and fore­most, no one expects you to know eve­ryt­hing. Don’t hesi­ta­te to ask ques­tions and educa­te your­self using the inter­net and other infor­ma­tion sources.

At Polar, my onboar­ding process was a posi­ti­ve expe­rience, and all the col­lea­gues with whom I’ve been wor­king over the past six years have been cheer­ful and help­ful.

I came to Polar as a foreign stu­dent wit­hout any work expe­rience in mar­ke­ting, so I had to pro­ve to both the team and myself that I’m a valuable team mem­ber.

The abi­li­ties to quickly find infor­ma­tion and lis­ten to other opi­nions, even if they dif­fer from my own, are skills that have hel­ped me in my pro­fes­sio­nal deve­lop­ment.

Oulu Talent Hub

Talent sto­ries you may be inte­res­ted in:

The inc­re­dible jour­ney of Chia­ra Boset­ti

Débo­ra Oli­vei­ra: “During my first walks in Oulu, I felt like I was in a fai­ry tale”

Doris Yue belie­ves her dreams will come true in Oulu

Jun­naid Iqbal: ”You must come to Oulu with an open mind and a big smi­le”

Tama­ra Louis: “Oulu is a per­fect envi­ron­ment for fami­lies”

Shar­min Farah: “Nort­hern Lights – the best thing to expe­rience whi­le living in Oulu”