10 years ago, Harri Suominen started Asia Exchange together with his best friend Tuomas Kauppinen. What started as a dream later became reality and today the two founders run the world’s largest and most international study abroad company focusing on Asia. In this blog post, our social media coordinator Fabian interviews Harri. Let us hear what one of our godfathers has to say.
Hello Harri! Can you tell us a little bit about yourself to start with?
Hello! I am Harri, an entrepreneur from Finland. In 2007 I started Asia Exchange with my good friend Tuomas, and 10 years later we gave birth to our new baby called Edunation. Both Asia Exchange and Edunation are helping students to study abroad. You could say that they are brothers from the same fathers.
What is Asia Exchange about?
In 2005 both me and my good friend Tuomas went on an exchange semester to Shanghai. The experience was life-changing and during our studies the idea of Asia Exchange was born. So, when we both returned back to Finland, we decided to realize the dream to start Asia Exchange.
Basically, we started the company because we wanted other young students to experience what we experienced as exchange students. Asia Exchange was established to fulfil other mobility channels and to work in close cooperation with universities. Until today, we have helped students from every continent to study abroad here in Asia. Well, except of Antarctica but we are working on fixing that as well.
Everyone working for Asia Exchange is forever grateful for being able to help young people to come up with new goals and live up their dreams. When someone comes up to you to shake hands and warmly thanking for having one of the greatest time in their life, well that is the biggest reward you can ever get.
What has being an entrepreneur and traveller given you?
Many of the greatest things in my life – traveling, studying, working or falling in love – have happened because of leaving home.
Being an entrepreneur has given things that were impossible for me to even dream of. I feel privileged to work with our partners and my team of highly motivated professionals. My staff is awesome and their driving force is to provide life-changing experiences to students. We are not perfect, but being the best is already a good start.
Travelling and working on things you are passionate about will lead to new friendships. And in best case also tighten the existing ones. Travelling makes you also value more things back home. Mommy and daddy, kisses to you back home!
A personal highlight from many of my journeys was in 2011. I took a weekend off and travelled to a small island in Thailand. I met Susanne, who was from the same town in Finland like me. I did never meet her before. We had to travel to the other side of the world to find each other. Today we are married, we have two children and we still travel around the world.
Can you give any advice to the ones who are thinking about studying abroad?
Everyone who studies abroad will have a magnificent experience. How magnificent? That is totally up to your attitude and motivation!
Everyone should come up with goals before travelling. A goal to just have a nice tan is not one of those… Learn a new language, conquer a mountain and grow as a person, those are goals. So, step out of your comfort zone, leave and experience the best time in your life!