Language Story

My first language is Finnish, but I am also comfortable using English. I have always been a keen communicator, and have since childhood been writing and reading quite a bit. I have studied several languages (Swedish, German, Polish, Spanish Russian), but the only foreign language I am actually fluent with, is the one I never really studied. I learned English from TV, music and travels. Later on, I lived for four years in Scotland. The accent was never a problem for me, and it still sounds like home. Reading literature in English was more difficult for me for quite some time. I recall it as a dear moment when I was able to enjoy nuances in the New Yorker magazine’s fine stories. I have also lived in Spain. It was very useful experience – I now know how it feels to live in a country where you cannot really communicate with authorities. It can make you feel a little vulnerable. In the InnoLab my job includes creating various types of texts, but also spoken word has an important role. I am interested in speechwriting and have been participating in the European Speechwriter’s Networks events – also as a speaker. Our team in the InnoLab is very international, but English is our common ground. However, many in our team are willing to learn Finnish, so we are navigating to find ways to support learning while making everyone feel they are onboard.

Mari K. Niemi holds a PhD in Contemporary History, and is a docent specializing in political communication (University of Turku). She has years of experience in the design and implementation of externally funded interdisciplinary research projects, stakeholder collaboration, science communication and working with media, e.g. as a political pundit, columnist and freelance journalist. Prior to entering academia, she studied fashion and worked in the business field as a product manager.


In 2018 Mari became the first director of newly establihed InnoLab research platform. She moved to back to Finland after years abroad (Scotland, Spain, Sweden), but her working environment had never been that international before. While leading the InnoLab, Mari became interested in topis of talent attraction and retention – in 2022, working as a research director n the E2 Research, she leads research projects touching these issues. What did she learn during her years in the InnoLab? And what are the latest learnings from her current organisaton – which has just recruited it’s first ever employee with whom the language of communication is English.