“As the person in charge of VIP services, my duty is to make certain that we provide guests with a distinctive, excellent and professional experience at Helsinki Airport. I have been VIP Service Manager since 2004, first with our own staff and from the year 2014, with the staff of the operator SSP Finland. I started out as an information officer in 1973, then became a supervisor after that.
“My typical day involves a lot of planning and coordinating. I constantly check what happenings or events we have in the pipeline, either tomorrow or in the near future. If there’s a state visit or any reservation at the VIP Presidential Terminal, I try to be there and see to it that everything goes well and smoothly. Preparing for a state visit, for instance, calls for a few advance meetings so that everyone involved knows what our special visitors expect and how they can meet – or even exceed – these visitors’ expectations.
"A career highlight? Receiving an invitation from Finnish President Sauli Niinistö to celebrate Independence Day at the Castle."
“One very memorable event took place when Finland had the EU Presidency in 2006. A big meeting was held in Tampere, and VIP service staff members travelled there to help. As far as a career highlight is concerned, however, I’d have to say that receiving an invitation from Finnish President Sauli Niinistö to celebrate Independence Day at the Castle in 2015 would be it so far.
“Sometimes we also help celebrities – rap artists, for example – with several requiring assistance with terminal procedures. Then there are stars who want privacy, such as Lady Gaga and Tina Turner. We’ve also had the honor of welcoming the Dalai Lama.
“When Tarja Halonen was president – around 2006 – Conan O’Brien came over to visit Finland. The American talk show host was prompted to do so by a physical resemblance he supposedly had to our former president – it was mainly the red hair. That day, a sizeable crowd – many of them teenagers – gathered outside the VIP Terminal. They were all chanting his name and waving banners. He stepped out to greet them, but these fans were behind a high wall so we provided him with a ladder.
"He [Conan O'Brien] stepped out to greet them, but these fans were behind a high wall so we provided him with a ladder."
“We are flexible with requests from our guests and we are ready to make their wishes come true. Our VIP Presidential Terminal has been an Italian cafeteria, a Japanese garden and an Arabian living room. We hosted a birthday party one winter evening and another time, a customer wanted a trapeze artist to put on a show. I had to make sure that the ceiling was safe and sturdy enough to hang from.”