Happy #WeMakeNBF Appreciation Week!! As we close out the year and reflect on 2017, we are kicking off December with a week-long series of blog posts dedicated to our wonderful group of Volunteer Team Leaders.
This inspired group of 16 students from Haaga-Helia University of Applied Sciences joined the NBForum 2017 Leadership Program in December 2016 and quickly became the heart and soul of our customer service operations. As their title suggests, Volunteer Team Leaders were paired up and assigned a team of between 10 and 60 volunteers to lead. They were also given a designated responsibility area within customer service operations to manage. As part of the Leadership Program, these leaders worked at both Nordic Business Forum Sweden in January and Nordic Business Forum in Helsinki in October of this year.
We could spend hours talking to you about who they are and all the fabulous things that they accomplished (most of which happened behind the scenes), but we thought you might like to hear from the superstars themselves. So, without further ado, here are some words from our 2017 Volunteer Team Leaders on their experience with us:
Tommi Eloharju, Check-in Services:
It’s all about magic. Really. There is a certain quality about the people and the environment at NBF that can’t be described, only felt. And being a team leader only makes the magic that much more addictive. Behind the scenes, you will learn that there are some hiccups during the event that not all volunteers see. But, it teaches you so much about the event production. Although it is fun, you realize that it takes a lot of work to put on an event this good. You get a unique perspective as a team leader.
Veera Sorri, Special Services:
As a volunteer, you don’t really see the full picture. But, as a team leader, you get to be on the inside of operations of the event and see these things happen. It can be scary to see the things that go wrong, but it’s actually really exciting to be part of the solution that makes it go right! I have learned so much and the recruitment training sessions were very useful, and they have never really felt like “work”. I have had so much fun with NBF — it has been one of the best things in my life!
Soheila Assadi, Host Services:
Everything had a huge impact on building me to become a confident leader, and I feel like the process is still going forward and helping me to grow and become something great in the future. The training sessions felt exclusive and they had more value than I can ever imagine. I feel like all of our coaches became important members of our own networks and it was amazing to get to meet all of them. And, unlike in other events, I have always felt that my tasks have had a great meaning to the success of NBF events.
Abdimajid Sufi, Cloakroom Services:
NBF is known for its extraordinary customer service, and that inspires you to do your best. One good example of this happened to me in NBF Sweden 2017. A customer came to me and started speaking very fast Swedish to me and it seemed like he had a lot to say. I didn’t intervene and, after he was done, the only thing I understood was “mobile”. As I had very basic Swedish skills, I simply said: “kom ihåg” (which I thought meant “come with me” but realized later it meant “remember”). I took him to the Customer Service desk and gave him a charger bank. The customer didn’t mind the minor difference and he changed the language to English as he smiled and said: “Thank you for helping, and mostly, thank you for trying to speak Swedish!” This reminded me of what Steven Covey said: “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.”
Emmi Nuutila, Check-in Services:
The training sessions had a huge part in the overall experience! We learned about leadership, team building, recruiting etc. We also learned a lot about ourselves and our teammates during these sessions, and this really brought our team together. I am so proud to have been a part of this experience. I think I have learned more about myself this past year than I have in my entire lifetime. And unlike in other places, in our volunteers, we are not looking for the ones with the most customer service experience but for the ones who come to the interviews as their great selves. I like that there is no one box people have to fit into.
Sanna Honkasalo, Roaming Customer Service:
During my studies in Haaga-Helia, I feel I have learned the most during the NBF Leadership Program. I have learned valuable presentation, recruitment, managerial, and leadership skills: I have learned it’s all about human relationships, being your genuine self and coaching how to let others shine. I have learned it is OK to be imperfect – it is better to show your weaknesses as then you are more genuine. I have learned it is very important to know the personalities of the team, respect different kind of people and ways of doing things, lead by an example and talk with people regularly about where we are at and where we are heading to. Giving feedback is also very important and you can motivate your team the best way if you name several positive things versus one constructive feedback. And there is so much more… As a Team Leader, I could apply everything I had learned in practice. It was so rewarding to see how our training had a huge impact on how we managed to train, motivate, and lead our 260 volunteers.
Noora Nikkanen, Seminar Hall Services:
As a volunteer, we started training and working about three weeks before the event. As a team leader, we started working over nine months before the event! Throughout the year, we had to do lots of preparations and planning, and think about how are we going to train our 260+ volunteers. This felt like a huge responsibility because NBF is known for its world-class customer service, so we decided that we just have to make it so much fun that they get inspired to do their very best at the event. To me, working at NBF has been the best experience in my life. I feel that I have grown so much professionally but also mentally. I never knew that working can be so much fun! NBF really encourages volunteers to take ownership so you have a chance to improve yourself.
Arto Koivunen, Roaming Customer Service:
I loved how the Team Leader recruitment really challenged me mentally to show what I can be, and I took it very seriously and wanted to challenge myself too. The fact that I got chosen changed me. It made me believe more in myself, that I can really be something. I learned that it does not matter which team or task I get to lead, it is the people who I get to lead that matter. I learned how different people can be… that people are born to be different and they can’t really be changed, only motivated. I learned a lot about myself, what kind of a team player I truly am, what are my weaknesses, and where I shine. It takes many people to form a great team, they all have their own strengths and weaknesses. And it takes a lot of patience, tolerance, and trust. Trust is the only way.
We can’t help but thank the amazing extension of our NBForum family that has been with us for almost a year! They have been an integral part of our events and have lived up to the popular NBForum volunteer hashtag #WeMakeNBF! It’s been exciting to watch them grow and become strong, competent, and confident leaders. Though the 2017 Leadership Program is coming to an end, we never like to say goodbye. Rather, we will see you soon!
Stay tuned for interviews with some stand-out Volunteer Team Leaders from Haaga-Helia University of Applied Sciences, our partner for our main event in Helsinki and our volunteer recruitment. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter to keep up with the latest news and announcements from our HQ!