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The staff of the Finnish National Opera and Ballet participated in Laurea’s first Certified Risk Officer training

The training was a pilot for Laurea’s Certified Risk Officer continuing education.

The Finnish National Opera and Ballet wanted to find a partner with diverse expertise in different types of risk assessment. 

- Our Occupational Safety and Security Manager Samuli Nuutinen had heard that Laurea was planning on piloting the Certified Risk Officer training. We already do diverse risk assessment daily at various levels. Our operations involve such risks as schedule, cost and quality risks, and we continuously assess and minimise safety and security risks. The training offered by Laurea was certainly very useful to us, says Juho Saxell, Head of Stage at the Finnish National Opera and Ballet.

Juho Saxell is responsible for the technical departments operating on the stage of the Finnish National Opera and Ballet. These include the lighting, sound, stage, logistics and maintenance departments as well as the stage managers’ department.

The technical departments employ people from many specialist groups that require in-depth expertise, including Finland’s top lighting and stage operators as well as lighting masters, stage masters, stage managers and sound designers. They act as sub-project managers, taking responsibility for their department in a specific production. They are responsible for preparing and planning schedules and the use of resources in each production. When the actual production takes the stage, they ensure their department functions as it should.

- Safety and security are very prominent issues for us. We work on a similar scale as, for example, construction sites. At worst, we work in the dark and our performers might not have appropriate safety equipment, which means that we need to assess risks extremely carefully. We need to be able to assess what risks there are, how to reduce them and what we need to work on to minimise them, says Saxell.

Striving to improve risk management and enhance expertise

Laurea Certified Risk Officer training was attended by about 30 stage department managers and specialists who already are risk management professionals in one way or another.

The stage technology departments wanted to strengthen and standardise their risk management expertise and to harmonise the tools for recognising, analysing and minimising risks.

On closer inspection, the tasks of the sub-project managers who participated in the training involve a great deal of risk assessment and management in the Finnish National Opera and Ballet.

- Our premieres cannot be rescheduled, for example, so we need to get certain things done by the premiere, which requires diverse schedule risk management on several levels. In addition, we have very strict quality standards, which means that we need to be able to continuously identify and control quality risks. We also have a limited budget, so we need to sensibly manage all financial risks, says Saxell.

The training consisted of both face-to-face instruction and tutoring sessions. Face-to-face sessions covered topics such as risk identification and assessment as well as risk analysis and risk management methods. The participants were divided into three instruction groups, which were further divided into small groups. Each small group worked on a development topic using the methods provided. In addition to the joint face-to-face sessions, each small group had two separate tutoring sessions.

- For example, one group decided to examine the risks in stage work from the perspective of an outsider. We usually rehearse one production in the morning and rehearse or perform another one in the evening. This means that during the day, we set up and take down two productions on the stage. The group’s task was to observe the stage work, focusing especially on the setting up and dismantling of the productions and noting all possible risks that might occur in a hurry. These risks were then analysed and used as the basis for improving safety, explains Juho Saxell.

- After carrying out the risk assessment in the training, group members can continue the process in their own organisation, continues instructor Hanna Iisakkila Rojas.

A common model and way of thinking and questioning things

The training strengthened the risk management skills of the stage technology departments. It offered tools and insight on how to analyse, prioritise and manage a variety of issues. It provided a common model and way of thinking as well as helped to question things.

- Many people have learned to do various things related to risk assessment intuitively through experience, but now they can identify and do those things in a more structured way, making it easier to reach results. During the training, we analysed the use of tools and harmonised approaches to make our risk management processes more consistent. I believe that after the training, we will be able to manage risks in a more controlled way, says Saxell.

The participants praised Laurea especially for being very flexible:

- It was very easy to work with the instructors, Senior Lecturers Hanna Iisakkila Rojas and Kaci Bourdache, as they were always ready to help and work around our schedules.

Laurea Certified Risk Officer training is designed for anyone whose job involves ensuring that work runs smoothly and successfully. The training is especially suitable for people whose job includes risk assessment or who are starting their career in risk management. It teaches how to report and analyse risks as well as to suggest changes based on the identified risks.

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