Mr Ambassador, you are spoiling us

29 October 2010
When an invitation to take afternoon tea at the home of the Finnish Ambassador in London dropped through the letterbox, I found it hard to turn down. It may not be a chance to meet the Prime Minister, but these opportunities don’t come round often (for me, at least). And the same also appeared true for the 70 or more procurement professionals who received the request and headed for the residence and embassy in Kensington Gardens on Wednesday afternoon.

In fact, the number of people who accepted the invitation seemed to even take the staff at the embassy and Sievo, the Finnish technology firm that organised the seminar, by surprise. Ambassador Pekka Huhtaniemi said the drawing room was the most full he had seen it since taking up his role in June this year. Speaking to some of the guests, most had thought the same as me – had this been held at a central London hotel, we probably wouldn’t have bothered, but the chance to visit an embassy and hob-nob with an ambassador… According to the Ambassador, the residence is offered to companies for events such as this three of four times a year with the help of Finpro, a business group that aims promote Finnish business worldwide. It is, he says, exactly the sort of thing William Hague is trying to do with the UK’s diplomatic corps to promote British business and help them win foreign contracts. And from the evidence of Wednesday afternoon, it works. It certainly managed to convince a bunch of hard-nosed procurement professionals to spend an afternoon out of the office. If you want get in front of an audience of buyers, it helps to have friends in high places. And no, there was not one Ferrero Rocher in sight.
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