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News, 9/26/2017 | Embassy of Finland, Washington

Helping Navigate the New West

How to succeed in a world that is nothing like it used to be? Team of experts joined their forces and established Nordic West Office to provide world-class analysis and support to Nordic companies.

Kristiina Helenius
Kristiina Helenius

Kristiina Helenius is one busy woman. Her suitcase is packed again, waiting in the corner of her Washington office – this time to be taken on a fortnight trip to Europe. Traveling the distance is required in Helenius' new job as Director for North America at Nordic West Office.

"This fall is about looking for the best customs and slowly taking root. I presume that next year will already be quite a ride," Helenius smiles.

Nordic West Office is a new consulting office that aims at helping Nordic companies navigate the "new West". It is a unique concept, not only by its flexible organization.

In Helenius' words, Nordic West Office is an heir of the 2010s. When Great Britain decided to leave the EU and Donald Trump was elected President of the United States, enterprise executives started asking questions. What was happening and how would it affect them?

According to Nordic West Office, outcome of the U.S. election and Brexit are just singular manifestations of something bigger. Technological revolution and climate change have been joined by a game changer, big political power. Globalization has suddenly been taken aback by disruptive forces.

"The year 2016 was a pivotal point in our history. We claim that something fundamental has changed and businesses need to understand this," Helenius explains.

Insights and operative support

Nordic West Office provides its customers with analysis and insights. It also helps them with more practical support, such as communications and legal issues. Nordic communications group Miltton and US-based global law firm Orrick are Nordic West Office's strategic partners.

The first big project is already underway. It simulates current global forces and maps out potential outcomes of this alteration of course. At workshops, with the help of gathered information, participating companies can compare different scenarios and examine their own level of preparedness for them.

Partners of the Nordic West Office team are experts from different fields, including politics, law, trade organizations, diplomacy and the media. Key players were not born yesterday: in addition to Helenius, the leadership team consists of Jorma Ollila (former Nokia Corp. Chair and CEO), Aida Hadžialić (former Swedish Minister of Education), Risto E. J. Penttilä (former CEO of Finland Chamber of Commerce) and Charles C. Adams, Jr. (former United States Ambassador to Finland).

Even the customer companies are rather notable: for example, Finnish corporate giants Wärtsilä, Konecranes and Finnair have joined Nordic West Office's clientele to get assistance in masterminding their global presence. However, Helenius points out that also smaller businesses might be in need of this kind of backing.

"With smaller resources you often need to be even more careful about your tactics," Helenius says.

Nordic West Office aims at being flexible and mobile - always there where it is needed.
Nordic West Office aims at being flexible and mobile - always there where it is needed.

"Nordification is a trend here"

Nordic West Office increases the Nordic presence in the U.S. significantly. Helenius describes the Nordics as a developed, educated and sophisticated market. Hence it is a strong brand to advocate.

"Nordification is definitely a trend here. Nordic countries are too limited markets on their own, so especially big companies look at us as one market," Helenius reasons.

For her, promoting Finland and other Nordic countries in the U.S. is nothing new. From 2007 to this summer, she worked as CEO at the international business network AmCham Finland. Prior to that, she was Press Counselor at the Embassy of Finland in Washington, D.C. for six years.

Helenius calls herself "a total U.S. junkie".

"This is a highly competed market and a really interesting one to work at. I guess there has to be something special to keep me coming back again and again," she concludes, before heading to Dulles Airport.

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Updated 9/26/2017

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