Interview with Verônica Angélica Freitas de Paula
Professor Verônica Angélica Freitas de Paula of Uberlândia Federal University (UFU) visited Finland in the summer 2019. The university, located in the city of Uberlândia in southeastern Brazil, has gotten funding for internationalisation and has many partner around the globe, including Kerttu Saalasti Institute since the signing of the 2018 co-operation agreement. This gives the faculty of UFU a chance to do research abroad and learn new ways of thinking from partnering insitutes.
UFU is one of the largest federal universities in Brazil, having over 30 000 students in different education levels. Freitas de Paula thinks the best with UFU is that dispite Uberlândia being Brazil’s capital of logistics and a center of agribusiness, medicine, innovation and education, the city offers a safe and cozy experience close to nature. The environment is very dynamic and the faculty, students and the community share close relationships. The university and the School of Business and Management offer interdisciplinary cultural and learning experiences, she says, by organizing meetings and activities with international students and professors and by offering courses in different languages.
Freitas de Paula chose to visit Finland and Oulu University because when Kerttu Saalasti Institute’s former director Ville Isoherranen visited Uberlandia Federal University in 2016, Freitas de Paula saw many opporturnities to work together with the School of Business and Management and Kerttu Saalasti Institute. According to Freitas de Paula, as they started talking about possibilities for joint research and co-operation, they realised there were even more similaritis and opporturnities to exhange experiences and learn from each other.
“I am very thankful I got to attend all the meetings, visit companies and the University´s different locations, schools and departments. I could also present UFU, our Internationalization program and some of the opportunities we are able to offer”, says Freitas de Paula about her stay in Finland. According to her, some of the meetings and visits have resulted in joint research and outreach projects while others presented opportunities for other schools of UFU, such as the School of Mechanical Engineering and the School of Computer Sciences.
Freitas de Paula calls the experience of visiting Finland amazing and her travel program, organised by Kerttu Saalasti Institute, well-prepared. It composed of a wide range of activities, allowing her to get to know the Institute, University of Oulu and the Finnish people, culture and traditions. Cultural activities she got to exprerience included Finnish traditional dance, music, food, nature and of course, sauna bathing. She also visited Pyhäsalmi Mine during her stay.
She says that she didn’t experience any culture shocks during her stay, but Finland was more special and unique place than she had ever imagined. “People are incredibly kind and attentive. Politeness, respect and generosity are a given, and I felt more than welcome ever since I landed”, says Freitas de Paula. Another positively surprising thing she noticed was the Finns’ environmental concern, the cleanliness of nature and the will to conserve it. She is excited to visit Finland again in wintertime and other seasons. Freitas de Paula says she feels glad she got to work along with “courteous committed hardworking professionals” of the Institute and Oulu University.
Freitas de Paula has studied multiple fields of science ranging from law to engineering and business administration. Her multidisciplinary background has allowed her to develop research in different areas with different perspectives and in collaboration with colleagues around the world. One of the research topics she is working on now in Innovation in the supply chain and new markets: impacts on branding. Some of her other research project themes include Brand Management, Operations Management, Traditional and Emerging markets, Digital Marketing and Social Media. As an Internationalisation Office coordinator, she focuses a lot on the University’s internalisation.
For the future, Freitas de Paula hopes to continue collaboration with the University’s partners in Brazil and abroad and to produce effective results to science and academia as well as companies and communities. She wishes to bring partnering institutions closer together to exchange knowledge and experience. “I hope our collaboration is fruitful so we can keep exchanging experiences and developing projects together”, says Freitas de Paula regarding her visit to Finland. She would like to give special thanks to Eija-Riitta Niinikoski and Matti Muhos for everything regarding her visit.