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Nordic Business Forum 

How is a top-tier business event organized?

Nordic Business Forum 

Known for its excellent customer experience and inspiring world-class speakers, the Nordic Business Forum  brings together international business decision-makers, experts and thought leaders year after year. Drivers and phenomena of business life are on the agenda, but also sharing ideas and networking. 

This autumn, the theme will be creating change, and names such as the world’s youngest Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai, entrepreneur and writer Tim Ferriss, and Nicolai Tangen, CEO of the Norwegian Petroleum Fund will be on stage.  

We asked the founder of the event, Hans-Peter Siefen, how a business event with a strong reputation is created. 

Story | Ambition 

Nordic Business Forum was organised for the first time in 2010 in Jyväskylä. The founders Jyri Linden and Hans-Peter Siefen figured out already in the second year that they would like to see the American environmental activist Al Gore speak in Finland. When this finally succeeded through twists and turns, the organizing team realized that the Nordic Business Forum could become an even bigger event. 

“Think big. We set an ambitious goal: Nordic Business Forum will be among the world’s most significant business events in ten years. This autumn 2023, Nordic Business Forum will be held for the 12th time. Now our dream is many times bigger: the internationalization of the event.” 

Early-stages sales | Diligence 

Ten years of success is now behind us and Nordic Business Forum’s appeal is still growing. Nordic Business Forum starts selling the next event while the present event is still in progress. More than 3,000 tickets were already sold for next autumn’s seminar when the first speaker names were announced. What is the recipe for success? 

Early-stages sales are a big factor in why NBF can be such a big event in a small country like Finland. That, in turn, is influenced by the reputation, the unique offering and the programme, to which the big performing names are attached really well in advance. And don’t forget the diligent sales work,” lists Siefen. 

Team | Passion 

Nordic Business Forum’s own core team takes care of sales, marketing, customer service and international relations. At the Helsinki Expo and Convention Centre, the event is supported by an event planner, a project manager and e.g. security skills. In addition, Helsinki Expo and Convention Centre’s audio-visual specialist Suomen Videoviestintä SVV supplies part of the technology. During the event, more centipedes join the group: a very well-trained group of volunteer students, whose activities and willingness to serve are praised year after year.  

“The entire Nordic Business Forum team implements the event with great passion every year. Already from the start, sales work has been done diligently and considerably in terms of quantity. A good reputation bears fruit, but you should not be lulled into it, as you have to surprise the customer positively each time, so that he will return again.” 

Helsinki Expo and Convention Centre| Professionalism 

Nordic Business Forum is re-planned on the hall map of Helsinki Expo and Convention Centre every year. Not only the expected number of participants, but also the event’s various functions and atmosphere-creating solutions dictate the plan. Last year, the largest halls 6 and 7 were used, as well as twenty meeting rooms in the Congress Wing of the Helsinki Expo and Convention Centre. 

“Helsinki Expo and Convention Centre is an event platform that enables the most diverse events. I feel confident and see only opportunities, because the milieu is endlessly transformative and the staff has a flexible and learning attitude. This applies to technology, security, cleaning, catering and responsibility. We learn and develop together year after year. For this autumn, we are now thinking about new solutions for recycling and using clean Finnish tap water.” 

Customer Feedback | Modesty 

Siefen’s favourite topic is to modestly listen to customers. In his opinion, the importance of customer feedback as a source of ideas and information and as a dynamo for event development simply cannot be overemphasized. 

“The NBF team collects feedback using many different techniques. By doing its own self-evaluation, by watching the recording of the event carefully, by using electronic surveys, by calling customers…. Even overcrowding is checked with logistics cameras afterwards,” he says. 

Surprises | Memory Trace 

What was Hans-Peter Siefen’s own top moment at the previous Nordic Business Forum? The answer reveals one more success factor that brings top-level managers to Helsinki year after year.  

The audience should always be surprised – surprise sells! At the previous event, the surprise and at the same time my own highlight was bringing Garri Kasparov on stage. The Russian chess master and political activist took the stage after a playful Zoom call. Such twists and turns blow up social media.” 

Photos: Pasi Salminen

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