In 2008, Roman Pass moved from his home Finland to Switzerland for an opportunity to play floorball with only his sport bag and hockey sticks. He knew no one in Switzerland, nor did he speak German.
He had played floorball – a type of indoor hockey – for more than 10 years at the time, and had an opportunity to play in Switzerland and to live somewhere new. He always foresaw himself moving away from Finland, where he emigrated to from Estonia with his mother and brother as a young child.
Playing the sport provided only a small amount of money, and he needed a full-time job. Without knowing the local language, finding employment proved to be a challenge. He recalled being paid 1,000 Swiss francs when he arrived by the team, spending the money within several days, and eating pasta with tomato sauce for two weeks straight.
“First year I was totally without a job,” Roman said. “I was just getting paid from the club, just pocket money every month. It was kind of a dark time.”
Roman felt a world away from home – isolated and lonely, as he embarked on this new chapter of his life. Many times, he thought about giving up.
“I think the most horrible part is the loneliness,” he said. “It’s easier to give up. It’s harder to say ‘I will not give up. I will fight for it.’”
Roman reminded himself that it would get better with every day that passed. A year after moving, he secured a job working as a warehouse operator for a sporting goods company. He started to make friends. Over the course of three years, he learned German and began to feel confident enough to speak it.
I think the most horrible part is the loneliness. It’s easier to give up. It’s harder to say ‘I will not give up. I will fight for it.
Then he felt ready to grow professionally. In 2013, he learned about an open position as a warehouse operator at Novocure in Root, Switzerland, and became intrigued by the company’s story. Roman saw the position as an opportunity to build something from the ground up. His first task was to design the inside of the warehouse. He traveled to Novocure’s U.S. Operations Center in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, to see how the warehouse was structured there and to learn from his colleagues. After two years, Roman transitioned to a new role as an order administrator to try something new.
“I am a person who sets goals,” he said. “And there I want to be in two years, there I want to be in five years. I definitely want to build a career and go as far as I can.”
In Roman’s current role, he manages patient-related shipments to and from the warehouse in Root. He coordinates with Novocure’s Device Support Specialists in Europe to ensure that patients receive the therapy on time.
“For me, it’s not just a job,” he said. “I want to do my best every day, to show my managers and everybody else that I want to grow with the company. So I’m still not done. I have a lot to reach.”
He aims to motivate his colleagues and build connection by keeping a positive attitude and making a point to connect with people face to face or over the phone, when possible, instead of via email. He finds meaning in the work he does at Novocure and feels that he is making a difference along with the company.
“I have never regretted it,” he said of his decision to join Novocure.
Roman has lived in Switzerland for more than 10 years. He still plays and coaches floorball for the same team, and teaches fitness classes at a local gym. The struggle of his early days in Switzerland is somewhat a distant memory, yet still fresh as a reminder of the drive he exemplified to create this life for himself. He recalled the moment he knew he had made it through the hardest days of his journey of starting over somewhere new.
“It starts to feel like home,” Roman said. “Then you know you are in the right place.”