There’s one saying above all others that Kinga Öhman relates most closely to: “When people meet, magic happens”. “It’s a wonderful slogan that I strongly believe and agree with,” the owner of Öhman Events tells The CEO Magazine.
For the Swedish events professional, despite the pandemic-driven surge in video conferences and online meetings, there will always be a place for in-person interaction. “I know that digital events have reached a new level and are very professional, but I still believe that live events offer the best platform towards building experiences, telling a story, and creating an event to remember,” she says.
And, as we emerge from over two years of lockdowns and other restrictions, she sees a real opportunity to bring people from all walks of business life back together. “There’s a built-up need for networking opportunities for people outside their own organisations and peers,” Kinga says.
The story of Kinga’s professional journey starts in New York, where she studied international business and marketing at Fordham University. “Upon graduating, I was determined that my way forward would be within global businesses and that I would hold onto that international mindset,” she says. She returned home to Sweden and was offered a role in business development and sales at global conference organiser IIR (today, part of Informa), where she remained for nine years.
I started to develop the strategies behind these inspirational, motivational keynote events with highly regarded international speakers.
Her career progression continued at a brisk pace, and she soon found herself headhunted for the position of Sales Director at Talentum Media, the former publisher of popular magazine titles such as Ny Teknik and Affärsvärlden. “My mission, along with two other people in the management team, was to form a competitive events organisation and to put it on the map in the Swedish market,” she says. Within five years, the goal had been accomplished and, with that achievement behind her, she decided that the time had come to “try my own wings”, as she describes it. In 2015, she founded Öhman Events.
A novel concept
The decision to go out on her own with Öhman Events wasn’t one made in haste, however. “It was a long-term goal I was working towards while offering business and events consultancy services,” Kinga says. During her time at Talentum Events, she had spotted a gap in the Swedish market for exclusive keynote events with international speakers. “Easily put, the American way of doing events,” she says.
“I started to develop the strategies behind these inspirational, motivational keynote events with highly regarded international speakers,” she says. “It was important for me that these events, with their high-quality content, would offer exclusive networking opportunities, but at the same time, be entertaining with the customer experience taking the centre stage.”
An event that is both entertaining and full of business information is a novel concept in the Nordic market, she explains. “Swedes tend to be careful, follow conventions and avoid risk,” Kinga says. “They are cautious of challenging speakers and controversial subjects.” This willingness to break convention, and bring a little stardust to its events, is what sets Öhman Events apart in the market.
Wolf of the nordics
One of Kinga’s first clients was MCI Nordics, the Scandinavian branch of the leading event management company MCI Group. For three years, between early 2017 and early 2020, she worked with world congresses, mainly in the Nordics but also overseas, in a consultancy role. “It made me even more certain that international events are where I want to be,” she says.
As a result, she headed overseas to Switzerland to meet the Wolf of Wall Street himself, motivational speaker Jordan Belfort. Now, she is bringing him to Sweden for the first time, for The Wolf of Wall Street event in Stockholm’s Cirkus arena on August 30th, 2022. Billed as ‘The Greatest Sales and Networking Event in the Nordics’, Jordan will address an audience of over 1,000 entrepreneurial attendees. Along with his sales and marketing strategies, he will talk about how to overcome challenges and turn a crisis like the pandemic into an opportunity.
It was important for me that these events, with their high-quality content, would offer exclusive networking opportunities, but at the same time, be entertaining with the customer experience taking the centre stage.
For Kinga, planning and producing such a high-profile and high-risk event in the midst of a global health crisis represents a career pinnacle. “I’m very proud that, even though I represent a smaller organisation, Jordan and his team trust my professionalism and ability to develop and deliver a world-class event,” she says.
She also recognises that the event is an excellent opportunity to grow awareness of Öhman Events. “The brand is not well-known in the market yet,” she says. “During the pandemic, our main strategy has been to capitalise on the positive publicity that has surrounded our first international speaker.” And now that restrictions are easing, she is able to explore the possibilities of extending the event into a cross-border roadshow. “There is a big interest in Jordan from the other Nordic countries,” she says.
It seems like Kinga has been heeding Jordan’s advice even before he speaks in Stockholm later this year. She concluded her consultancy role with MCI Nordics just before the pandemic struck, so she could focus on working towards big keynote events. But despite the timing, she says she’s focused on turning the crisis into opportunity. “I’ve found time to deepen my knowledge of the industry and to learn about digital streaming and hybrid events,” she says.
The pressures of the last two years have also been made more bearable thanks to the company’s relationships with key partners such as Pophouse Entertainment Group (the owner of Cirkus) and Edge Technologies, who will oversee the technical delivery of August’s event. “They have been very supportive and offered flexibility throughout the whole pandemic,” she says, adding that the format for The Wolf of Wall Street has changed several times. “At one point, it was going to be a hybrid event before we decided on a fully streamed event, and now we’re back to a live plan,” she says.
I’m very proud that, even though I represent a smaller organisation, Jordan and his team trust my professionalism and ability to develop and deliver a world-class event.
If anything, Kinga knows that agility is one of Öhman Event’s key attributes. “I am fast and quick to adapt,” she says. Another important element of her business model is that she handpicks the team for each event to make it a completely customised affair. “These are the best professionals in their field of expertise,” she says.
She explains that her strategy at Öhman Events has always been to deliver extraordinary events with customer needs taking centre stage. “Otherwise, you’re not going to attract the delegates,” she says. “We are providing wow events with a higher price and the quality to match and we pride ourselves in walking that extra mile to deliver an event that actually exceeds the delegates’ experiences,” she continues. “That’s not always an easy job, but satisfied customers are one of our most important KPIs for success.”
As she looks beyond August’s event to a successful future delivering inspiring, internationally minded events to the Nordics, Kinga says that it’s something she learned from the Wolf of Wall Street himself that sums up her professional life. “Act as if you have unmatched confidence and then people will surely have unmatched confidence in you. And act as if you are already a tremendous success and you will become successful,” she says. “In other words, don’t be afraid to follow your dreams.”