How not to invite a president
At some point during the first year, our team talked about potential guests to participate in our training sessions regarding Responsibility and Ethics in Business. There came up many names and one of them was Mr. Sauli Niinistö President of the Republic of Finland. Mr. President is known for his rather casual and approachable lifestyle. It is not a surprise to see him in public as well as his dogs are adored by Finns. Therefore, I thought, hey why not try?
I didn’t really expect that this would be possible, but it got me thinking, how one even contacts the president? I decided to contact the office. At presidentti.fi I found the phone number and to my surprise after two beeps, the communication specialist has answered the phone. I was a little bit astonished to connect so quickly and perhaps after introducing myself, I said something like “I would like to invite the president to Proakatemia”, where the first thing they asked was confirmation if we are talking about the same president and what is this all about. After I explained step by step what Proakatemia is, what are we doing, and why our training session would benefit from Sauli Niinistö’s visit we got some clarity. The person who I spoke to was extremely polite, patient and provided me with guidelines and information that must be included in the invitation as well as the email address where to send it to.
Something I should have expected, but somehow didn’t come to my mind – well I never tried to invite any president – there are some strict questions to answer myself before writing any invitation. Here are a few example questions:
What is the type of the meeting, is it a panel or debate?
What is the topic?
Who is asking questions, who is the facilitator, what type of questions?
How many people will be there?
How much time will it take?
How is the meeting arranged? At the time zoom was the only chance for us.
For example, recording is not allowed.
Despite the fact that I did not manage to successfully invite Mr. Sauli Niinistö to Proakatemia I think it is worth sharing a little bit of this process. Maybe it could help to succeed with the next attempt. Here below are the emails I exchanged with the office.
My name is Kamil Wojcik, I’m a student at TAMK Proakatemia. I just contacted you recently about the possibility to invite Mr. President to one of our dialogue sessions. I’m a member of a new international team, that starts a new chapter in the school’s history. Many of us have backgrounds from different countries, but we now have the opportunity to make a change in Finland. Many would say that it’s a small country, although there is no doubt that is has an impact bigger then it’s size or population. It’s worth to create a path for a new generation of leaders.
Topic: Future of Finland. What do we need and where are we going as young entrepreneurs?
Form: Small panel with team entrepreneur students, in a zoom call. There will be a moderator or possibly only a few people asking questions and leading dialogue. Rest would be observers.
Duration: I would wish that we could have the pleasure to host Mr. President for 1 hour.
Possible dates: Tuesdays 13th, 20th, 27th of April or 4th of May. Anytime between 8-16.
Deadline for the answer: I would highly appreciate an answer one week before the meeting at the latest. That would allow us to prepare accordingly.
On behalf of students in TAMK Proakatemia,
TAMK Proakatemia (http://www.proakatemia.fi)
Tampere University of Applied Sciences
Dear Kamil Wojcik,
thank you for your kind email and request for the President of the Republic to participate in TAMK Proakatemia dialogue session.
We will register the request and get back to you once it has been processed.
Office of the President of the Republic of Finland
President’s office again:
Dear Kamil Wojcik,
President of the Republic of Finland, Mr Sauli Niinistö, has received your kind invitation to join a dialogue session concerning Future of Finland and young entrepreneurs.
The President of the Republic appreciates your kind invitation. Unfortunately the President is not able to consent your request.
On my own behalf I wish you all the best in these exceptional times.
Special Adviser to the President of the Republic of Finland