Al-Obaidi Zuhair:
"A pleasant" Surprise Among Others

In the summer of 1972 I took the lift to the sixth floor in Chydenia building (HKKK) to enquire about possibilities to do a M. Sc. degree. There I met an assistant at the Marketing Dept., a charming young lady who was friendly and very helpful. This young lady is now a professor. Upon her recommendation I went to the Registar's office and talked with a kind gentleman. He gave me an application form, few pages (in English) about the school and asked me to apply soon. In January 1973 my application was accepted and I came back to Finland to join the HKKK.

When I arrived I found out that there were many unpleasant surprises. Many of the courses were in Finnish language which meant that I had to do a lot of book exams. Furthermore, although I had graduated from a well established English University in which international business studies are widely recognised I had to do a lot of extra courses. In fact the situation looked so dim in my eyes that I decided to go back to my home country and resume my work with a company which was born and determined to be international. It did not make sense to me to be part of a school that was at that time in the experimental stage of internationalization.

Within the context of the above briefly described situation I was lucky to meet Professor John Darling as well as others in Prodec. I was one of only two foreign students studying full time at the school. I joined his course on International Marketing. That was, at that time, a unique experience. He had a different way of dealing with the topic, both in substance and style of presentation. As I recall many fellow Finnish students did not appreciate at the beginning his way. But as the course progressed and we got used to his American English we enjoyed the course. His up to date examples and willingness to discuss problematic issues were appreciated. Because he had extensive practical marketing experience I noticed that students who had already taken the course were also attending some of the sessions. Indeed I was one of them.

One thing that impressed me was his unique way of communicating. Simply put he made us alert all the time through sharing with us his personal experience and illustrating his points with practical examples. Furthermore he encouraged us to visit him and discuss our study problems and even go beyond giving advice to making school administration aware of them. As a foreign student I found him among the very few I could approach to discuss many of my study related problems. I appreciated his invitation to visit his home and meet members of his family. These were the foundation up which our continued relationship was built. Over the last 25 years, we have both tried to cement this relationship by frequent meetings.


Although many of these meetings were professional in nature, they also had a lot of social flavour. His interest in people does not stem from mere curiosity but from genuine desire to offer help. The help I got from him was one among many other pleasant surprises I had at HKKK. I hope the opportunity will arise in the future to talk about some of the other pleasant surprises I had at HKKK.

[ Zuhair Al-Obaidi, The Helsinki School of Economics and Business Administration ]

Asko Korpela 19990921 (19990921) o o AJK kotisivu