Can happiness be exported?

Can happiness be exported?

PRESS RELEASE December 3rd 2018

Finnish based HEI Schools is globalizing Nordic wellbeing through the lens of early education. Backed by academics at the University of Helsinki, HEI Schools is delivering the acclaimed Finnish model to early education operators all over the world.

Nordic countries top polls year after year as the happiest in the world. Values such as creativity, trust, compassion and sustainability, all building a high quality of life with education as a cornerstone to Nordic wellbeing. Studies consistently prove that a solid foundation during early years has a lasting, lifelong impact.

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HEI Schools is a highly designed, research based licensing model established for local partners to provide the best in early childhood education. A complete school package including the curriculum, teacher training, learning environment design, curated learning materials and operational support. All created with co-founder University of Helsinki in 2016 together with experts in education and design – a perfect harmony of Finnish pedagogy and Nordic design delivered to the world.

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The first HEI Schools opened in Baotou, China in 2017 with a 4,500 square meter space for 300 children from the ages of 3-6. Success has been seen and felt by the parents of Baotou with positive changes in their children and homelife as well as within their community.

Rapid growth and desirability for the concept in different markets shows, that HEI Schools is filling a need by providing a model not based on heavy stress, ranking and competition, but on individual success and holistic development of the child – still not compromising academic achievement. HEI Schools is now seeking growth in new markets after four successful projects in Baotou and Guangzhou in China, Melbourne, Australia and Helsinki, Finland. New HEI Schools in Shanghai, Chengdu and Beijing, China, Korea, Argentina, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait City will be open during 2019-2020. North America will be one of the main focus areas for new partners and market opening during 2019.

“HEI Schools was developed to offer high quality early childhood education for as many children and families in the world as possible. It would be actually quite easy to build a great school for 2% of the wealthiest people, but we truly are seeking for a model to serve the many, not the few” says CEO of HEI Schools, Milla Kokko.

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For media inquiries please contact:
Pamela Lewis
pamela.lewis@heischools.com

+358 45 669 0177





Päivi Paltola from Marimekko joining HEI Schools as strategic advisor

Päivi Paltola from Marimekko joining HEI Schools as strategic advisor

Working together to increase global awarenessof Finnish education and Nordic design.

Previously holding a CMO position in the management group with Finnish design company Marimekko as well as other VP level positions with iconic Finnish design and lifestyle companies such as Fiskars and Lumene Group, Päivi Paltola brings vast experience growing and building high quality brands internationally.  

Says Milla Kokko, CEO at HEI Schools, “Päivi Paltola´s role as strategic advisor is very valuable for us at HEI Schools where we are modeling Finnish methods of education together with the Nordic heritage of high quality design for all. Her extensive background with major Scandinavian brands coupled with her expertise in business strategy is paramount to our mission of delivering scalable, high quality early childhood education”.

HEI Schools continues to focus on expansion with a concentration on Asia and the USA, cultivated markets for Päivi. “I am thrilled to join HEI Schools, they are really doing something unique within the landscape of education worldwide. Promoting the growth of Nordic culture is important to me on both a personal and professional level and this new role truly supports both”, says Päivi Paltola.

Paltola will start the position as of January 2019.

 Learn more about Päivi Paltola:  https://www.linkedin.com/in/paivipaltola/

Learn more about Päivi Paltola: https://www.linkedin.com/in/paivipaltola/

HEI Schools named top-100 in global education.

HEI Schools named top-100 in global education.

The Finnish-based preschool model was selected from over 1,000 participants as one of the most innovative educational platforms in the world.

World renowned education nonprofit HundrED (hundred.org) has selected HEI Schools (heischools.com) as one of the 100 most inspiring programmes in education worldwide at the prestigious HundrED Innovation Summit held in Helsinki, Finland.

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HundrED’s goal is to showcase the best K12 projects that improve the future of education globally. A team of researchers investigated programmes to determine which 100 innovations are currently changing the face of education today. Over 1,000 participants were identified and 160 were selected for evaluation by the HundrED academy, a group made up of pedagogical experts, educators and students (ages 11-19 years old) from 28 countries.

HEI Schools was selected for their holistic approach to early childhood education, seamlessly combining all elements needed to enrich young minds: a research based model with a clear licensing package consisting of curriculum materials, teacher training modules, spacial design concept, curated learning materials and operator support. The scalability of HEI Schools is the core of its mission, since the model can be placed anywhere in the world, giving any child access to high quality education and revealing their own unique importance worldwide.

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Says Milla Kokko, CEO and one of the co-founders at HEI Schools, “We are so honored to have been selected. Our goal with HEI Schools is simple: to bring high quality early childhood education to as many children and families in the world as possible. We are very happy to see, that just a year after opening our very first HEI Schools kindergarten in Baotou, China where we have now over 100 children and their families joining the international “HEI Family”. This is a clear example of the attractiveness and scalability in our model. We will continue to expand, creating an environment that engages our community, activates young minds and provides a space for lifelong learning.”

HEI Schools Guangzhou opening mentioned on Finnish national TV

HEI Schools Guangzhou opening mentioned on Finnish national TV

HEI Schools Guangzhou in Southern China opened its doors just this week, in a newly renovated building with lots of space and light. The beautiful 250 children capacity school is run by a local owner and teachers as well as two temporary Finnish teachers, pedagogical director Anna-Maija Kuokkanen and teacher Tiia Sääksjärvi.


HEI Schools Guangzhou opening also gained national interest with the Finnish national public service broadcasting company YLE. A story about HEI Schools and HEI Guangzhou was broadcast on national TV news on October 18th, 2018 as well as on the YLE website: https://yle.fi/uutiset/3-10460123.


Mandy Chao from China chose a Finnish kindergarten for her daughter. She wanted her child to have fun at kindergarten and where: “she is allowed to have her own opinion”.

The middle class in developing countries is growing at a fast pace. Parents are paying up to 1,000 euros a month for childcare.

  Zilin Liu, one year and 10 months is able to stack, build and play. Picture:  Matti Hämäläinen / Yle

Zilin Liu, one year and 10 months is able to stack, build and play. Picture: Matti Hämäläinen / Yle

Forest Hu just opened a Finnish kindergarten in Guangzhou China this week. It is the first of its kind to open in this southern Chinese city with millions of inhabitants. There are several British and American kindergartens catering to a population wanting more high quality education. Forest Hu became interested in Finnish pedagogy when she was studying economics and pedagogy at the University of Hong Kong. Finnish early childhood education is highly regarded worldwide compared to other methods.

Government officials, educational professionals and parents are all interested in the Finnish early childhood education model.

  The co-owner and director of Guangzhou kindergarten, Forest Hu believes that an international education adds to the creativity of the children. Picture:  Matti Hämäläinen / Yle

The co-owner and director of Guangzhou kindergarten, Forest Hu believes that an international education adds to the creativity of the children. Picture: Matti Hämäläinen / Yle

The kindergarten is operating in a newly renovated building with lots of space and light. There are 4 children playing in the space including Mandy Chao’s 4 year old daughter Cindy.

Chao chose a Finnish kindergarten because she wants her child to have fun at her kindergarten. Here children are more free than in a chinese kindergarten. They are allowed to have their own opinion and choose what they want to play. Chao is impressed that within the Finnish model teachers obtain information about the children directly from their parents. When educators understand more about their students they can individually cater to each student, that is what I want for my child.

  Mandy Chao chose the Finnish kindergarten for the freedom it gives her child. Picture:  Matti Hämäläinen / Yle

Mandy Chao chose the Finnish kindergarten for the freedom it gives her child. Picture: Matti Hämäläinen / Yle

Currently, the director’s goal is to fill all 250 places with the doors open for all interested parents. The Finnish education model has a good reputation in China, but parents are still reticent to adapt a new method for their children’s education. Parents want the newly renovated building to have adequate time to ventilate before the children start school to ensure the cleanest, healthiest environment for their children. The building renovations were completed one month before classes began for the students.

Security cameras and guards are important in Chinese kindergartens

The safety of children is a major concern for Chinese parents. They want all the table edges to be covered and soft along with knowing how many security cameras and guards will be monitoring their children. Security cameras are common in Chinese kindergartens and many parents are able to watch their children’s activities live throughout the school day. At Hu’s kindergarten she will install security cameras, but her hope is that the parents will have trust in the safety of her kindergarten even without the cameras. In Finland, it is not common to use security cameras in kindergartens.

  Yiuxuan He, 2 years and 10 months old, has just started at the Finnish kindergarten in Guangzhou. His teacher Lucy Lu is encouraging him to play. Picture:  Matti Hämäläinen / Yle

Yiuxuan He, 2 years and 10 months old, has just started at the Finnish kindergarten in Guangzhou. His teacher Lucy Lu is encouraging him to play. Picture: Matti Hämäläinen / Yle

Parents are worried that the Finnish kindergarten model will not give their children the best start on their educational journey

Forest Hu’s kindergarten follows the pedagogy of the new start up, HEI Schools that partners with the University of Helsinki to bring the Finnish model of early childhood education to the world. HEI Schools works with local operators, both public and private, opening schools globally. In September 2017, the company founded it’s first kindergarten in Baotou China now with over 100 students. In both Guangzhou and Baotou there is a Chinese kindergarten director as well as a Finnish pedagogical director. In Guangzhou, Forest Hu is both a co owner and director working along with Finnish pedagogical director, Anna-Maija Kuokkanen. Anna-Maija explains that Chinese parents are still quite skeptical if the Finnish model gives their children the best foundation despite having the best reputation in education.


The export of education in Finland is growing:

  • Education Finland is a part of the Finnish national agency for education to promote the export of education.

  • Offering early childhood education all the way through to higher education.

  • 92 member companies in total with 7 companies offering primarily early childhood education.

  • Member companies report a revenue of 310 million euros in 2017 with a 16% growth rate.

  • A majority of companies are still in a start up phase with a revenue of under 100,000

Source: questionnaire from Education Finland in 2017 with 95% of the companies submitting their information

  Anna-Maija Kuokkanen is responsible for the Guangzhou kindergarten’s pedagogical content. Picture:  Matti Hämäläinen / Yle

Anna-Maija Kuokkanen is responsible for the Guangzhou kindergarten’s pedagogical content. Picture: Matti Hämäläinen / Yle

Reading poems out loud and playing piano are respected

In China there is a lot of competition for entrance into the best schools. Prospective students are subject to rigorous testing of their memorization, english language, music and mathematic skills for private school entrance. Kuokkanen has the answer for Chinese parents in the HEI Schools model combining local features with Finnish pedagogy. We have our own curriculum, but we also take the local needs into consideration.

The middle class in Guangzhou are wealthy and parents are willing to pay for the best education for their children. At Forest Hu’s new kindergarten the monthly tuition is 1,000 euros a month, which is in line with similar area kindergarten fees. In the future, more and more Chinese families will want internationally branded education for their children.

  Guangzhou Finnish kindergarten teachers: Lucy Lu left front and Micky Chan right front, Tiia Sääksjärvi and Vicky Lo middle row and top is Lisa Ding. Picture:  Matti Hämäläinen / Yle

Guangzhou Finnish kindergarten teachers: Lucy Lu left front and Micky Chan right front, Tiia Sääksjärvi and Vicky Lo middle row and top is Lisa Ding. Picture: Matti Hämäläinen / Yle

The growing middle class wants quality in education.

The Growing middle class is also something that FinlandWay International Preschool in Espoo is interested in catering to. In 2018 they started their operations in Lima Peru with 5 kindergartens and now a 6th school has opened in Sao Paulo Brazil totalling over 500 students in attendance. The Finnish concept is brought to the local market with a franchising or licencing model. In our target market the public sector in not always able to offer high quality education whereas the private sector is usually the only option offering parents the best solution in education. We offer a good price to quality ratio for the masses, says CEO Noora Laitio.

  CEO, Noora Laitio noticed that there was a void to fill with Finnish early childhood education while at IFC. Picture:  Matti Hämäläinen / Yle

CEO, Noora Laitio noticed that there was a void to fill with Finnish early childhood education while at IFC. Picture: Matti Hämäläinen / Yle

Parents are paying several hundred dollars a month for early childhood education.

In South America and Asia early childhood education fees are not subsidized. This payment can be up to a quarter or a third of the families monthly income, says Laitio.

  Educator Pilvi Lindberg is teaching Finnish pedagogy to Brazilian early childhood teachers. Picture:  Matti Hämäläinen / Yle

Educator Pilvi Lindberg is teaching Finnish pedagogy to Brazilian early childhood teachers. Picture: Matti Hämäläinen / Yle

Similar to China, Peruvian early childhood education has been focused on memorization more than learning through play. Laitio says that the reputation of Finnish education has raised a lot of interest for parents in South America, but they still need proof of its excellence and connectivity to their own educational structure. The Finnish teachers create stories to introduce concepts through play. Numbers learning does not only happen through memorization, but can be taught through playing store.

“During play children have the courage to try and make mistakes.”

Jonna Kangas


The company’s pedagogical director Jonna Kangas is a professor of early childhood education at the University of Helsinki. She says that children build confidence through play. Play is a safe environment to try new things and experience new roles. Through play children have the courage to try, make mistakes and to build resilience.


New kindergarten to open in Vietnam

Now the company is expanding its operations to Vietnam where they are starting to offer early childhood education in partnership with Quality Training Solutions Vietnam. It is one of the leading educational organizations in Vietnam that also has partner companies in Europe, USA and Australia. In March the first kindergarten will open in Saigon. Registration has just opened this fall for prospective parents. For both Hei Schools and FinlandWay International preschools they currently employ Finnish pedagogical directors whereas their long term goal is to train local educators in the Finnish pedagogical model. In Peru, the local staff is fully trained in the Finnish model.

This is a translation from the article published on 18.10.2018 in Yle website, originally written in Finnish by Journalist Ulla Manninen and translated by Tiina Daifi and Pamela Lewis.

Kuwait and Saudi Arabia will join the global network of     HEI Schools in 2019

Kuwait and Saudi Arabia will join the global network of HEI Schools in 2019

We are excited to announce the opening of two new HEI Schools in 2019. Kuwait City, Kuwait and Riyadh, Saudi Arabia will join our global network bringing a new geographical area and culture to our HEI Schools community.

The owners and operators for both HEI Schools Kuwait and HEI Schools Saudi Arabia will be in Helsinki in early 2019 for management training. They are actively seeking educators to join their teams. Long-term teachers are being sought for either location and short-term mentor teachers for a 2 month period to Saudi Arabia.

All of our teachers and students have the unique opportunity to globally coexist through the use of technology while still sharing the same curriculum. Schools create local modifications to suit their environment while still upholding the globally shared ideology. This international foundation of connection and understanding gives our students the foundation to grow into intelligent, compassionate citizens.

Milla Kokko, CEO of HEI Schools, says “The HEI Schools vision is to build a global network of beautifully designed schools with a shared goal of educating students in the Finnish model. Having this educational framework along with an international community truly connects teachers and children around the world.”



Introducing: HEI Schools Emerald

Introducing: HEI Schools Emerald

Australia will be the next country to open a HEI Schools with space for up to 60 children. The grand opening will be held in Melbourne already in January 2019. Two Finnish mentor teachers and one pedagogical leader will travel to the second most populated city in Australia, to guide teachers and parents. The mentoring period to adopt the HEI model will last two months. Further plans in the Melbourne area for expansion are in discussion.

Expansion of the HEI Schools network in China

Expansion of the HEI Schools network in China

With a new multi-unit contract signed, two new HEI Schools in Chengdu and Shanghai are confirmed to open in the fall of 2019. This is an extension to the HEI Schools China family with schools already in in Guangzhou (see news about HEI Guangzhou below) and Baotou. The Baotou school was the first HEI Schools in China. After a full year of operations, HEI Schools Baotou now has 20 teachers and 100 children.

“Of course we have learnt a lot from our first opening, such as how to truly work together, instead of doing things ‘a certain Finnish or a certain Chinese way’,” says Reetta Kaasalainen. “We will rather focus on truly creating the HEI culture and work on shared understanding.”

The Finnish school system has generated great interest in China and now the HEI team is looking forward to expanding the network of HEI Schools in the rest of the country.

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Welcome to HEI Schools Ruoholahti in Helsinki, Finland

Welcome to HEI Schools Ruoholahti in Helsinki, Finland

The first HEI Schools in Helsinki, in the popular city district of Ruoholahti, opened its doors in August! The first group of children has already started their first term, and with a growing number of children, the school is actively recruiting more teachers. HEI Ruoholahti has capacity for 80 children.

HEI SCHOOLS HELSINKI TO OPEN IN AUGUST 2018

HEI SCHOOLS HELSINKI TO OPEN IN AUGUST 2018

HEI Schools will open a kindergarten in Ruoholahti, Helsinki in August 2018. The kindergarten will be operated by Touhula, the largest kindergarten operator in Finland. The curriculum and concept will follow the HEI Schools model.

“Since the founding of HEI Schools we have wanted to have a HEI Schools kindergarten here in Helsinki. Our concept is constantly developing with the latest research and it is important that we can develop our program together with teachers and children right here in Finland. Having a showroom in Helsinki will also enable our foreign guests to visit our HEI School and experience the Finnish model”, says Milla Kokko, the CEO of HEI Schools.

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The first HEI Schools opened in China, Baotou in September 2017. In addition to HEI Schools Ruoholahti, there will be other HEI Schools openings with HEI Melbourne in Australia and HEI Guangzhou in Southern China. All HEI Schools kindergartens will be closely connected to each other.

Touhula varhaiskasvatus Oy is the largest private kindergarten operator in Finland, currently operating over 160 kindergartens around Finland. HEI Schools Ruoholahti kindergarten will open its doors in August 2018 and will offer early childhood education for ca 100 children with the age range of 10 months to 6 years. The strategic co-operation with Touhula continues also with Touhula operating more HEI Schools in the larger Helsinki metropolitan area.

The kindergarten operator and recruiter is Touhula varhaiskasvatus.

Please apply here:

Day-care nurse: https://rekry.varhaiskasvatus.com/MepRekry/Application/Index/1331/

Kindergarten teacher: https://rekry.varhaiskasvatus.com/MepRekry/Application/Index/1317/

HEI SCHOOLS WINS TWO GOLD AWARDS AND A GRAND PRIX  AT “VUODEN HUIPUT – BEST FINNISH CREATIVE DESIGN” COMPETITION

HEI SCHOOLS WINS TWO GOLD AWARDS AND A GRAND PRIX AT “VUODEN HUIPUT – BEST FINNISH CREATIVE DESIGN” COMPETITION

HEI Schools, with an international concept in early childhood education, was awarded two Gold Awards (Best Product and Best Service) and the Grand Prix prize of the whole competition at Vuoden Huiput (vuodenhuiput.fi), an annual Finnish design competition that awards the best creative concepts in the whole country.

HEI Schools stood out positively with its fresh, carefully designed, professional approach. In addition, HEI Schools has a brilliant and an innovative idea behind the concept, the goal to provide high-quality early childhood education to as many children in the world as possible.

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“Building a service design concept based on the Finnish early childhood education and research is already a powerful idea, but the careful and well-executed service design and the distinctive concept makes it especially inspiring”, says the head of the jury Samu-Jussi Koski (samuji.com).

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“At HEI Schools, two important aspects are always present: the research-based pedagogy and detailed design. Whether we are planning our teacher training, furniture, learning materials or the school cafeteria, we always look things through these aspects. We are extremely proud and happy that our integrity has also been recognized by design professionals in the form of prestigious awards”, explains HEI Schools’ Design Director Anne Rusanen.

HEI Schools to receive a significant investment from private equity company  EQT for international expansion

HEI Schools to receive a significant investment from private equity company EQT for international expansion

Press release
Feb 28th 2018

Helsinki International Schools Group (HEI Schools) and Finland’s largest private preschool operator Touhula, owned by EQT, join forces to bring Finnish early education to international markets.

Helsinki International Schools Group Ltd (HEI Schools) is an international early education concept that brings the excellence of Finnish education to schools and families all over the world. HEI Schools was founded in 2015 in partnership with the University of Helsinki. The first HEI School was opened in Baotou, China in September 2017.

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”HEI Schools was founded when we realized what a huge need and interest there is globally for early education based on the Finnish model. Due to the high demand, we dared to think big from the start: we will have succeeded in our efforts when high quality early education and the HEI Schools concept are accessible both financially and location wise to as many people, as for example IKEA is today. We are a part of this Nordic heritage where well-designed products and services are made affordable and available for many. The investment from EQT will enhance HEI Schools’ potential in making progress fast enough in the international markets”, Milla Kokko, the CEO and Co-Founder of HEI Schools explains.

Research-based pedagogy is a cornerstone in the HEI Schools concept. Tight collaboration with one of the company´s co-founders, the University of Helsinki enables HEI Schools to access the latest educational research and apply it directly in all pedagogical content.

Touhula is the largest private early childhood education organization in Finland with nearly 200 preschools across the country. “Taking the Finnish early childhood education to the world has been discussed extensively in the media. Touhula and HEI Schools form a very lucrative partnership together as HEI Schools’ research-based concept and our vast operational experience support each other remarkably. The goal of our partnership is to make high quality early childhood education accessible to as many children in the world as possible”, says Touhula CEO Virpi Holmqvist.

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Collaboration also in Finland – HEI Schools Helsinki to be opened in September 2018

As a part of the collaboration, HEI Schools´ pedagogical content will also be applied in Touhula preschools across Finland. Touhula and HEI Schools will also open a HEI Schools Helsinki unit in September 2018. There has been an extensive need for international early childhood education in the Helsinki Metropolitan area, and HEI Schools Helsinki will answer to this demand. HEI Schools Helsinki will also serve as a model preschool for other HEI Schools and as a showroom for international visitors.

EQT sees potential for Finnish early childhood education expertise

EQT is a leading investment firm with approximately EUR 49 billion in raised capital across 26 funds. EQT funds have portfolio companies in Europe, Asia and the US with total sales of more than EUR 19 billion and approximately 110,000 employees. EQT Partners is an Investment Advisor to EQT funds (“EQT”)

Jarkko Murtoaro, director of EQT Partners sees that Finnish early childhood education expertise has an extensive international market.

“Finnish education is recognized as top quality around the world. We want to be a part of supporting HEI Schools’ international growth as well as Touhula’s expansion in Finland. We are focusing on high quality of education in both cases”, Murtoaro explains.

 

More information:

Milla Kokko                                                                  
CEO, Co-Founder, HEI Schools                                          
milla.kokko@heischools.com                  
+358 40 8600 277                                             
heischools.com                   

Virpi Holmqvist
CEO, Touhula
virpi.holmqvist@touhula.fi
+358 40 537 6133
touhula.fi/en

Jarkko Murtoaro
Director, EQT Partners
jarkko.murtoaro@eqt.fi
+358 40 577 1456
eqtpartners.com

 

HEI SCHOOLS OPENS IN AUSTRALIA AUTUMN 2018

HEI SCHOOLS OPENS IN AUSTRALIA AUTUMN 2018

HEI Schools has signed a franchising agreement with University Preparation College in Australia about establishing and operating kindergartens in Australia. The first pilot kindergarten is planned to open already in September 2018.

HEI Schools aims to make first-class, well-designed early childhood education available all around the world. “There has been an increasing interest for adopting the unique schooling system outside Finland, and we are replying to this request”, says Milla Kokko, CEO of HEI Schools, and continues “Our company is still in pilot phase and negotiating with international operators to test the concept in different markets. University Preparation College in Australia shares our understanding of the importance of progressive early childhood education and therefore is a perfect partner for us”.

"HEI kindergarten concept is based on research made by the University of Helsinki and has also been proven to be efficient, among the best in the world. Those were the main reasons for us when choosing HEI Schools as our partner. This agreement is also a proof of our commitment to the early childhood education", states the Director Kam Ming Yu from University Preparation College. "Five of our team members shall participate into the Teacher Training organised by HEI Schools in Helsinki in April 2018. I am really looking forward to that," Mr. Yu continues.

 COO Taina Roth, Director Kam Ming Yu and Head of Design Anne Rusanen

COO Taina Roth, Director Kam Ming Yu and Head of Design Anne Rusanen