New horizons: A career in Finnish maritime

Man working on a ship

Suzana Reiko and John Petrie appreciate Finnish work-life balance.

Did you know that the majority of the world’s large luxury cruise ships are designed in Finland? Hop aboard!

Finland is a global leader in the maritime industry. This Finnish sector boasts a 90% export rate, 13 billion EUR turnover, 50 000 employees, 2 000 companies and Finland is the number one country when it comes to constructing the most energy efficient cruise vessels. It is also the world leader in polar shipbuilding, design and fleet operation.


Finnish know-how covers everything from shipbuilding and innovative offshore solutions to port technology and smart solutions in a sustainable way. Noteable maritime companies in Finland include Meyer Turku, Wärtsilä, Aker Arctic Technology, ABB Maritime and Kongsberg Maritime Finland – to name just a few. We’ve included even more company titles at the end of this article.


One of the leading Finnish companies paving the way across international waters is ALMACO Group. After building their careers internationally, Suzana Reiko from Brazil and John Petrie from Scotland currently work at the ALMACO global headquarters in Turku, Finland. What do they think of the Finnish maritime industry and its opportunities? Read on to discover their experience and also catch insights from Ines Stenius, Vice President, People at ALMACO Group.

Global industry from a Finnish perspective

“ALMACO was born international,” says Ines Stenius, Vice President, People at ALMACO Group.


The company is a prime example of a Finnish maritime player. ALMACO Group Inc was founded in Finland immediately after the founding of ALMACO Group Oy, 1999. Standing on the shoulders of Finland’s long maritime history, the company has enjoyed a strong foundation to grow and gain a strong global foothold. Today, it has offices in nine countries, with the parent company based in Finland and leading global operations. 


The company has delivered more than 330 projects in over 40 global locations. It specializes in newbuilding and modernization of all catering and accommodation areas, as well as full lifecycle support to owners and shipyards in the marine and offshore industries.


The language of the global maritime industry is English – some languages don’t even have words for certain terminology, they rely on the English phrasing. That’s why ALMACO works in English – even internally in its head office in Finland. It’s also mandatory to use English in emails, particularly since the organization employs between 10 and 20 different nationalities.


“It’s very efficient. By using English, we ensure that everybody understands everything right away, for example when looping new people into conversations regardless of where they come from,” says Stenius.


Suzana Reiko is originally from Brazil and works as an after sales specialist with ALMACO. She says that in Brazil, the maritime industry is focused on oil logistics, such as oil rig constructions and supply boats. After finishing a project in her home country in 2019, she got a call from a friend in Finland telling her that ALMACO needed someone with her background.


“At that time, our industry in Brazil was in crisis and I thought moving to Finland would be a good way to start fresh.”


John Petrie hails from Scotland and has worked globally in maritime – across Singapore, the UAE and US. In 2019, he joined ALMACO and moved to France. Then COVID struck. To avoid being isolated from his team, he decided to move to Finland in 2021. He is now Vice President for Project Management within the accommodation systems division.

“Both me and my wife had spent quite some time in Finland previously, and we thought it was a nice, clean, and safe country. Whereas while living in Miami, my wife would hang on to her purse tightly every time she went left the house.”


Reiko agrees that Finland has a strong sense of safety.


“There’s no violence. You can walk the streets safely at night.”

Suzana Reiko.

Suzana Reiko.

Focus on specialty ships

According to Reiko, ALMACO invests a lot in innovation and technology. When she first started in Turku, the company was developing a virtual simulation that displayed the interiors of passenger ships in close detail – which had never been seen before in the oil industry. Reiko also says that she has time and plenty of opportunities to develop her own ideas at work.


“Even in our internal meetings they’re always trying to develop different ways of demonstrating things. I think it’s in Finnish culture to invest in innovation.”


Petrie says that in a shipyard in Singapore you can find everything from a fishing trawler up to a tanker and everything in between, including floating platforms.  Instead, Finland focuses on specialty ships, particularly passenger vessels such as large cruise liners and passenger ferries. There’s also strong expertise in Helsinki within the ice breaker category.


Petrie says there’s a good and bad side to this. One on hand, the cruise bubble could burst, as it did with the oil and gas industry in Brazil which affected Reiko’s career. On the other hand, cruise liners have very good prospects.


“Before COVID, high-up people in Royal Caribbean explained to me that if you counted all the bed space of the main cruise companies, it only made up 2% of the world's three-star and above hotels. So, instead of flying somewhere to live in a resort, they're now building ships into resorts. And if they're only 2-3% of the hotel capacity, very possibly there's a massive market for cruising.”

Ines Stenius, Vice President, People.

Ines Stenius, Vice President, People.

Working in Finland day-to-day

What's it like to work within Finnish culture? Reiko points to a flat hierarchy, which is very different from her native Brazilian work culture. She feels very comfortable discussing with colleagues and sharing ideas at ALMACO.


Petrie agrees. “If you want to speak to the owner of the company, you can just walk over to his office and sit down.”


He laughs and says that people abroad thought he was crazy when he said he was moving to Finland.


“Everybody said that Finns don’t talk to anybody, they’re all just like Kimi Räikkönen. But the culture here is very good and people are open.”


Stenius says they couldn’t imagine their workplace not being international – it’s the best way to attract the best talents to ALMACO. There’s a great appreciation of different cultures in the company because everyone has international colleagues. This in turn helps collaboration with customers and contractors.


“At ALMACO Finland we are interested in any talents of maritime industry, but we’re especially interested in people who know about offshore, because Finland has traditionally less experience with that. With the arrival of the offshore windmill operations, this will change in the future.”


Both Reiko and Petrie are very happy with the quality of life in Finland. Reiko feels she can achieve a healthy work-life balance – devoting both time to her career and her personal life.

Petrie seconds this. “In Singapore, for example, the boss will frown if you leave after 10 or 11 hours of work. In Finland they’ll ask why you are still in the office.”


Reiko admits that being far away from her family and relatives can pose some challenges. As for challenges at work, she says that she was facing one, as she transferred from the engineering department to her current position at After Sales.


“So, I’m learning new things all the time, but this is a positive challenge. ALMACO is concerned about our well-being, and this includes skills development. For example, if I see that I’d need a course on a certain topic, I can go to my boss and talk about it.”


“I've never heard them say ‘no’ yet, it's always ‘yes’. If people want to develop themselves, the company stands behind you and supports you doing it,” says Petrie.

Considering a career in the Finnish maritime industry?

Reiko ’s advice for any talent considering a job in Finland’s maritime industry is to do your homework: learn about the country, culture and the specifics of its maritime sector. This will help you to adjust quickly. She adds that you can get by perfectly well in Finland on English alone, but that learning the Finnish language is highly beneficial for integrating more deeply into the society.


Meanwhile, Petrie doesn’t mince his words when dispelling advice to would-be candidates thinking about a career in Finland.


“Hurry up. Finland is a good place to work in a thriving industry. It's not just the shipyard, it's the whole supply chain around it. Finns like to try and keep the supply chain close, which I think is excellent for the economy. So, my advice is to get on a plane, you'll enjoy it.”


Meanwhile, Stenius says that the reserved nature of Finns may come as a surprise for people coming from more extroverted cultures. In Finland, socializing can be connected to the seasons – during summer Finns tend to be quite social and in winter they tend to turn inwards.


“I’ve seen at ALMACO that some international talents can find the first winters rough, because of the darkness and cold temperatures. It’s easier when somebody tells you about this in advance. We try to provide the peer support and talk about the positive sides of the winter months, how it’s a good time to light a candle, read some books and take some time for yourself.”


Stenius sees the future and prospects of Finnish maritime industry as very bright. In Finland the tradition of shipbuilding is long and strong, and the standards are set high. Turku alone hosts a big shipyard with its chain of small and medium sized companies and the expertise linked to it.


“Finland is the best place in the world. We want to be the spearhead of industry and the way the community, companies, and the government are all on board is quite unique. It’s a fantastic feeling to work in Finland. It’s hard for me to separate the societal and industry aspects because we’re all working in one front, and everybody strives for the common good.”

Almaco employees.

Almaco employees.

Finland – a global leader in the maritime industry

Here are some of the factors contributing to Finland’s maritime success:


  • A long tradition in shipbuilding that seamlessly combines with the latest technologies.
  • Finland is a global leader in polar maritime tech, and more than half of the worlds icebreakers are built in Finland.
  • Finnish companies are front-runners in innovative offshore solutions.
  • Port technology is one of the Finnish maritime industry’s core strengths.
  • Finnish maritime solutions encompass smart technologies that cover a range of processes and tools, including automated data gathering, advanced analytics, cutting-edge 3D modeling, high-speed wireless communications, and software applications that help improve efficiency and safety
  • The maritime industry’s value chain in Finland is cost-effective, and covers R&D, education, ship design, engineering, building, operation, project management and life cycle support services.
  • The industry operates in an environmentally friendly way.

More interesting maritime companies in Finland

  • ABB Marine and Ports. A company driving the evolution of sustainable shipping. Search for careers at ABB.
  • Aker Arctic Technology. A company specializing in development, design, engineering, consulting and testing services for ice-going vessels, icebreakers, offshore marine structures, marine transport solutions and ports. See open positions at Aker Arctic.
  • Arctia. This company safeguards winter navigation and produces marine survey and fairway maintenance services: ice breaking, marine survey services, fairway & port design, fairway maintenance, hydraulic engineering, offshore windfarms. Visit Arctia’s website.
  • Elomatic. A supplier of industrial design and consulting services and overall solutions that based on their technologies. See careers at Elomatic
  • Enersense. An energy company listed on the Helsinki Stock Exchange, providing green energy services for the implementation of a zero-emission and energy self-sufficient society on a broad scale. Search for open jobs at Enersense.
  • Kongsberg Maritime Finland. This company supplies technology, equipment and services needed for sustainable maritime operations today and in the future. See careers at Konsberg.
  • Meyer Turku. One of the world’s largest and most modern shipyards. See open jobs at Meyer Turku.
  • NAPA. A leading maritime software and data services provider for ship design and operations to enable safe, sustainable, and future-proof shipping. See careers at NAPA.
  • Norsepower. The world's leading Rotor Sail provider for commercial shipping. See open positions at Norsepower.
  • Siili Solutions. Full-service development partner for innovating, designing, building, and running digital services. See open positions at Siili Solutions,
  • VISY. A pioneer in optical character recognition (OCR), applied AI, and deep learning for camera-based automation solutions. See careers at Visy.
  • Wärtsilä. A global leader in innovative technologies and lifecycle solutions for the marine and energy markets. See career areas at Wärtsilä.


See more open jobs at our website. Maritime industry jobs can also be found here on Finnish Marine Industries' website.