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NHH Symposium

The NHH Symposium is a biennial business conference held at the Norwegian School of Economics (NHH) in Bergen, Norway. The inaugural meeting, inspired by the St. Gallen Symposium, was held in 1983. It has since grown to become one of the largest student-run business conferences in Europe. The meeting is convened solely by volunteer students. Keynote speakers have included Edward Heath, Henry Kissinger, Yngve Slyngstad, Liz Ann Sonders and Jeffrey D. Sachs. The Norwegian king, Harald V attended in 1995 and Haakon, Crown Prince of Norway in 2007 and 2009.

The inaugural symposium, inspired by the St. Gallen Symposium, was held in 1983 and titled "Getting Out of Today's Stagnation". The conference was sponsored by Kreditkassen and Wilhelm Wilhelmsen. The official language was English. The Norwegian Prime Minister, Kare Willoch, said the conference was "a very positive step, I hope and believe that it will lead to constructive results." Other speakers were the SAS Group chief executive officer, Jan Carlzon and the NHH professor Victor Norman.

In 1987, at "In Quest of the 90s", the Volvo executive, Pehr Gyllenhammar predicted the economic downturn of six months hence. The former British Prime Minister, Edward Heath said, "Europe is decaying. The continent can end up like a museum." Other speakers were the professor of strategy, Henry Mintzberg and the former chief executive officer of Statoil, Helge Lund.

In 1991, the conference theme was "Going for Growth, the Challenge to Scandinavia". Anita Roddick spoke of the founding of Body Shop. Former Norwegian Prime Minister Gro Harlem Brundtland argued for the necessity of restrictions on free market capitalism. Michael Porter spoke of "lazy" Norwegians and local competition. Jeffrey Sachs discussed the challenges facing the newly independent Eastern European democracies.

In 1997, the conference theme was "Speed, the New Battlefield". It focussed on the ability of students to make sound decisions quickly. The speakers included the chief executive officer of Mercedes-Benz Helmut Werner, John Clarkson of Boston Consulting Group and former Minister of Foreign Affairs Thorvald Stoltenberg.

In 2001, the theme of the conference was "A New Arena on the Horizon". Former Prime Minister of Sweden, Carl Bildt said, "It is the creativity and quality of individuals that will be the most important." Guest speakers in 2001 included SEB chief executive officer Lars Thunell, Minister of Trade and businessman Grete Knudsen and Editor-in-Chief of the Financial Times, Martin Dickson.

The 2011 conference was titled, "Egoland to Legoland, Which Country Do You Live In?" It was convened by "Norway's Largest Workshop". The students were divided into groups and given a common challenge that businesses in Norway might face in the future. Each group was asked to solve this problem and then present their result during a panel debate. The guest list included David Arkless, Helge Lund, Stine Bosse, Kristin Skogen Lund and Sigbjorn Johnsen.

In 2013, the conference theme was "A Fight Against Goliath". The NHH-Symposium questioned whether the Norwegian decision making apparatus was capable of meeting the challenges of tomorrow. This was the theme for discussion during the topics of "War for Talent", sustainability, ownership and growth. Among the guest speakers were Financial Times editor Martin Wolf, former president of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, Bjorn Stigson, Lisa Mei Wang from the National Economics Research Institute in China, director of Goldman Sachs Gao Hua Securities, Xi Pei, William Cornog from KKR, managing director of Accenture Mark Spelman, senior researcher at the PRIO Henrik Syse, owner of Ferd Johan H. Andresen, Minister of Foreign Affairs Espen Barth Eide, the vice president of E.ON, Jorgen Kildahl, Lucy Hockings from BBC, Geir Sviggum, managing partner international of Wikborg Rein.

 


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