Nordic Business Forum enables learning in a real working environment

At Haaga-Helia, studies are conducted in a variety of learning environments. One example of this is the Nordic Business Forum, where Haaga-Helia students have the opportunity to work – and learn – in different roles within the event's customer service teams.

NBF students
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The business conference, held in Helsinki since 2014, offers students not only a unique event, but also the opportunity to learn in a real working environment instead of a classroom. Through the student partnership, Haaga-Helia's degree students have the opportunity to participate in the Nordic Business Forum and a related course of study as part of their degree preparation.

During the years of cooperation, a large number of Haaga-Helia students have already gained experience and know-how in organising an international event in practice, creating customer experience and customer service in different roles.

Learning outside the classroom

Joel Kangasmaa, a first-year BA student, was inspired to attend the event by recommendations from students who had previously participated in the event. His experience of the event has been positive, even though going to the event initially felt like a leap into the unknown.

– I was inspired to go to the event in order to experience something completely new for myself and to network with other students at the same time. I also thought that the event would open new doors, so to speak, which has actually already happened, as I will continue in the role of Team Leader at the next NBF event, says Kangasmaa.

For the students, the Nordic Business Forum also serves as a learning platform, where you get a learning experience as a member of a customer service team or as a team leader. Learning at the event is of course different from learning in a classroom, although there are similar elements to traditional courses at a university of applied sciences.

– In terms of work experience, participating in an event is valuable because you learn teamwork skills that are useful both in your studies and in your professional life. The training days before the event are similar to classroom learning, but it's great that the theory is quickly put into practice at the event itself, where everyone gets to carry out their own tasks in a real working environment, Kangasmaa continues.

The Team Leader Programme offers new opportunities

Haaga-Helia students have the opportunity to continue to the NBF Team Leader training. The programme is offered to students who have previously participated in events, and the student is employed by the company for two months. The programme is aimed at students who want to gain experience in building service teams and develop as leaders.

– I think NBF is a great opportunity for Haaga-Helia students. I networked at the event and the team leader training in a unique way. The international environment and the skills I learnt at NBF have been a great advantage in my later working life and employers have highly appreciated this work experience, says Sonja Laakso, a Haaga-Helia graduate in restaurant management.

Laakso participated in the event for the first time in 2018 and has since then worked as a Team Leader for several times. Business Administration student Ville Tammi also praises the Team Leader training and the practical experience gained from the event.

– When it's an event of this scale, you learn a lot about how a large organisation works and not just about theory. Last year as a service team member I gained three credits and this year as a team leader I will gain 15 credits. This is also a great boost to my studies, says Tammi.

Practical experience on the field

The Nordic Business Forum has also been a popular course among Haaga-Helia exchange students and students from abroad, as the English-language programme has provided an opportunity to gain work experience that many of them would otherwise have found difficult to obtain in Finland due to language requirements.

Cornel Ungureanu, a student in Haaga-Helia's English-language Aviation Business programme, considers the work experience to be the main benefit of the event, although the credits and networking are a plus.

– They say you learn best by doing. I got my current job largely thanks to my NBF experience. It's good that NBF offers the opportunity to take on greater responsibilities with experience. For example, I am now in a Team Leader programme offered by NBF. Who knows, maybe next year I'll be part of the core team, says Ungureanu.

Real-life projects have almost invariably been motivating for Haaga-Helia students, and many of the Nordic Business Forum participants say they have benefited from the experience in many ways.

Teachers and the entire staff of the university of applied sciences can also gain new perspectives on their work from working together. The cooperation is continuously developed on the basis of feedback and ideas from students and other stakeholders.

– As an UAS, we are happy to be able to offer students a wide range of learning experiences in a very practical way. The feedback has been overwhelmingly positive from students, businesses and teachers alike, say Haaga-Helia's Vice Presidents Salla Huttunen and Katja Komulainen.

Read more:
Salla Huttunen and Katja Komulainen: Learning has left the classroom (a long time ago). Article on Haaga-Helia's website 7 October 2022.

Joel Kangasmaa, Valtteri Rytinki, Cornel Ungureanu, Jannika Vahvelainen, Maisa Ahonen and Ville Tammi are participating in Nordic Business Forum 2023 as Team Leaders. They presented the event at Haaga-Helia's Pasila campus in April 2023 in the context of the 'Build Your Future Career' event.

Nordic Business Forum

The Nordic Business Forum (NBF) is a two-day business conference held annually in Helsinki, Finland, which has expanded in recent years to include Sweden and Norway. The event is known for its international speakers, including Barack Obama, Richard Branson, Al Gore, George Clooney and Will Smith. The 2023 event will take place from 27-28 September at the Helsinki Exhibition Centre.

NBF website