The Foundry Team 09.09.2022

“Foundry has a genuinely different working culture” – Interview with Sebastian Lier Hagen, Venture Client Intern

Arttu Närhi

Arttu Närhi

When presented with a Venture Client Internship opportunity, Sebastian Lier Hagen took the chance and moved from Oslo, Norway to join the Foundry team in Helsinki. We sat down to talk about how he has enjoyed his new job and hometown.

It didn’t take much for Sebastian to decide to move when he spotted a career opportunity that aligned with his long-term goal. As a cosmopolitan individual, moving within the Nordics was a no-brainer for him.

“I didn’t have a special focus on Finland in mind. It was all about the right job profile,” Sebastian explains. He spotted a post in an international student group on Facebook and was immediately intrigued by the job description. 

But no matter how strong the pull is, moving to a new hometown is never a light decision. Let’s start at the beginning of Sebastian’s journey to the land of a thousand lakes…

Where to learn how companies grow?

“My initial interest was in management consulting,” Sebastian says. “Through that, I realized there was plenty to learn about their methodology and frameworks, which allow them to deal with any situation that comes at them. I was especially curious about how this is applied to growing a business.”

Like many working in innovation, ideas that will come to shape the future are what inspired Sebastian to look further into entrepreneurship and the startup ecosystem. Before long, he was already working at growth companies. 

“I did an internship with a Norwegian startup, working with their European expansion strategy,” he says. “And I’ve also worked as a freelancer with a Danish EV startup expanding into Norway.”

Combining many interests into one role

Sebastian’s long-term plan has included business development and growth management of startups; along with these, venture capital and investment, and strategy work have also piqued his interest. What surprised him was finding Foundry and realizing that there might be a bit of everything on the horizon.

“I was impressed with the broad partner network Foundry has,” he recalls. “Moreover, the work seemed focused on strategically important areas and quite specific needs too. I didn’t have much experience working with large corporations before, but learning this approach firsthand was a chance I didn’t want to miss.”

Drawing on an international network of good friends

The rest is history – Sebastian’s merits shone through and was offered one of the internship positions for Spring 2022. Now all that had to be done was make the trip. However, the timing was spot on, in this case too.

“I had planned some vacationing anyway, so I made the transition smoothly from my travels to Helsinki,” Sebastian says. 

In Finland, Sebastian had some friends who were eager to give a hand. He had met them during his travels and year abroad in Australia. With their help, he managed to find an apartment in no time and even signed the lease remotely.

“I was in Copenhagen and organized the first video call with my landlord – we agreed on the terms in a subsequent call, this time in Berlin,” he laughs. “My small network made the transfer to Helsinki very easy.”

Support from colleagues at the office

Sebastian has now been part of the team since the beginning of 2022 and has enjoyed his time, both in and out of office. 

“Of course, I came here when Covid restrictions were in place, so that made settling down a bit more difficult,” he recalls. “Overall, it’s all been very familiar. Culturally, it's what I’m used to. The main differences are the language, the abundance of saunas, and I was particularly surprised how close to nature we are even in central Helsinki. There are ducks and rabbits everywhere; I was not expecting that!”

Culturally, the Foundry team and office have turned out to be a great working environment in Sebastian’s eyes. He enjoys the fact that colleagues are eager to support one another and that everyone pulls on the same rope. 

“The stereotype of the startup ecosystem, the consulting world, all these places is that you work long hours by default. It’s not like that here – Foundry has a genuinely different working culture,” he says.

“A great learning experience to talk with decision-makers”

When Sebastian started work, the Foundry team was in the middle of a venture client cycle. He jumped right into the thick of the action and has had his role develop and expand as the year has gone by. He’s enjoyed seeing the process in full, from start to finish, and has been working on launching the latest active cycle.

“On top of the great working culture, the work itself has been a great experience too,” Sebastian says. “I’ve got the opportunity to talk with the corporations and startups directly. It’s been a great learning experience to talk with the decision makers about strategy and daily operational matters.”

So in the end, has it been worth coming to Helsinki, Sebastian?

“Absolutely – it's a beautiful city. It’s a nice social atmosphere too: the people are happy, honest and don’t beat around the bush. I‘m really enjoying my time here.”

Are you looking for your next career opportunity? Foundry is hiring business developers and interns right now! Read more about them here.