We are happy to announce the first ever Finnish Education Expo- Middle East to be held on the eve of GESS Dubai 2019.

The focus will be on sharing real life learnings and discussing how Finnish solutions can work in a local UAE context.

Some of the topics to be covered:

  • Gamification of learning – real life experiences from UAE (examples of Arabic language and math learning)
  • Moral Education and Finnish Curriculum Transversal Competencies – can we use the same learning methods?
  • Early childhood education

Join us for an afternoon of discovery and innovation on the 25th of February 2019 at the beautiful Raddisson Blu Waterfront, Dubai! 

The event is targeted at school leaders and senior management. It is invitation only.

We are not taking any more registrations at the moment, but you can visit the Finnish Pavilion at GESS Dubai 2019 on 26th to 28th of February, where you can meet all the same companies presenting at the Expo! Find out more here!




Keynote Speakers

Olli-Pekka Heinonen | Director General, Finnish National Agency For Education, Finland

Olli-Pekka is Director General at the Finnish National Agency for Education. Before taking up this position he worked as a State Secretary at the Ministry of Finance of Finland. He was also State Secretary of the portfolios of Ministry of Education and Culture, Ministry of Internal Affairs, and Ministry of Foreign Trade and Development. Olli-Pekka has also acted as a State Secretary in the Prime Minister’s Of ce, worked as a Director for a Finnish Broadcasting Company and holds a Master’s degree in Law.




Mishal Kanoo | Chairman of The Kanoo Group

Mr. Mishal Kanoo is one of the most iconic business figures in the Middle East and has a reputation as a futurist and strategist with a strong track record in forecasting economic developments in the region. As Chairman of KAAF Investments, Mishal Kanoo tries to help people reach their professional dreams. The excitement of helping others achieve their goals, both big or small, is what drives him. Playing a role in bettering people’s lives is a great instigator for doing what he does. Kanoo has been investing on a personal and company level since 1991. Mr. Kanoo currently serves as the Chairman of The Kanoo Group, one of the largest, longest running and independent family-owned groups of companies in the Gulf region. Furthermore, he is a professional and motivational speaker, writes articles for local and regional media, is published in business journals on a regular basis, and holds chief positions as Chairman/Director of various reputable companies, including AXA Insurance Gulf, Gulf Capital, KHK & Partners Limited, Dalma Capital, and Johnson Arabia LLC.


Riku Alkio | CEO and founder at Seppo.io

Riku, Master of Philosophy, has a long experience in teaching and counselling. He has passion for teaching and social learning. He has been working as a teacher for twenty years in the Kallio Upper Secondary school in Helsinki, Finland. Riku has been involved in many ICT related projects both in the city and national level in co-operation with the National Board of Education. He is the founder and CEO in seppo company, which promotes new ways to motivate students with game based learning and pedagogical use of mobile technology.


Andrew Nolan | Manager, Education Technology at GEMS Education

Andrew is an experienced practitioner in the fields of education and education technology, who is passionate about the role technology has to play in terms of improving student outcomes and learning efficiencies. He is responsible for research into new technologies and their implementation in educational settings at GEMS X, the future-focused R&D arm of GEMS Education. Andrew applies current best thinking towards the development of new and novel mechanisms of schooling that leverage cutting edge technologies. This includes amongst others: Artificial Intelligence, Adaptive Learning, Internet of Things (IoT), Drones, and Blockchain technologies.


Leisa Grace Wilson | Editorial Director at Teach Middle East Magazine

Leisa Grace is an educator, writer and blogger. She is especially passionate about connecting, developing and empowering educators. She is the Editorial Director for Teach Middle East Magazine, the largest education publication in the Middle East. 





Jenny Mollon | Reviews Editor at WhichSchoolAdvisor 

Jenny has revolutionised WSA’s coverage of early years, a crucial time in a child’s development. She is a nursery teacher and manager, and responsible for both the reviews of schools, nurseries and Kindergartens on the site, as well as practical and hands on guides for parents with young children.




Makke Leppänen | Vice President of Marketing and Sales at Eduten

Makke is a visionary leader, a motivational psychologist and an author. With 20 years of experience he is one of the leading experts in Finland in the field of future skills, self-confidence and gamification in education. He is a popular keynote speaker in Finland. He holds degrees in teaching, psychology and leadership. Makke has written several books about leadership and self-confidence. At the moment he works at a Finnish edtech company called Eduten. He is the Vice President of Marketing and Sales.



Jaana Wilkko | Principal at Garden City British School

Jaana is a Finnish pedagogical expert with knowledge of the Arabic culture having worked in the UAE for more than eight years. She holds a Master of Education Degree and is currently taking Garden City British School forward as a visionary leader embracing the input from digital learning environments and software tools to be embedded in the holistic approach that enhances the phenomena based on learning. She has been responsible for CPD trainings, teacher appraisals, observations and data collection and analysis during her tenure with ADEK. She has experience in teacher training in the UAE and has worked as a principal in Finland.


Markus Packalen | Education Expert (global operations) at Qridi Oy, Teacher

Markus is a Finnish classroom teacher with wide range of expertise on the field of education, both in Finland and UAE. Markus is known for developing a Technology Education Class -study program in Rajakylä Elementary School. He is an active member of Innokas-network promoting elementary level programming and robotics in Finnish Schools and delivering in-service training for teachers. In addition he has experience from teacher education, curriculum design, commercial learning materials and learning games development. Markus is a true believer of high quality education and its power to make lives better everywhere.


Suzanne Perkowsky | Co-Founder and Chief Educational Officer of New Nordic School

Suzanne is an innovative educator who has set out to change the future of education. She believes in blended learning to develop young children to effectively mature and succeed in the 21st century. She brings over 25 years of instructional and administrative experience in diverse global geographies, spanning 8 different countries. Experienced in school planning, instructional scaffolding, inquiry and project-based learning, technology integration, knowledge of current and emerging learning tools and techniques. She has a passion for education that has led to participation and sharing of expertise in different forums and educational panels, including the ‘The Future of Learning’ at the upcoming GESS Dubai 2019. She has a strong belief in ongoing personal development to keep up with educational innovation via Finnish educational standards for educational leadership amongst others. 


Aleksi Komu | Director of Global Partnerships in Education at ThingLink

Aleksi is an internationally acknowledged technology expert within the education sector. He has designed, implemented and overseen several successful development projects, including transitioning entire school networks to the digital era. Aleksi is specialised in researching and developing information and communication technologies in education. He is extremely passionate about how technology can become a natural part of creative learning and the many possibilities, benefits and results it can create when implemented properly. Aleksi was the winner of “Best use of ICT/e-learning in classroom” at GESS Education Awards 2018. 


Milla Mikkola | Co-Founder at Kindiedays

Milla is a Co-Founder at Kindiedays, a digital solution developed to support quality early childhood education. She has a bachelor’s degree in Social Services with a kindergarten teacher qualification. Milla has worked as a teacher and a manager in kindergartens in Finland. She has planned, implemented and guided teachers in Finnish early childhood pedagogy. Milla is especially passionate about the importance of pedagogical documentation in early childhood education. 



Mari Kyyhkynen | Publishing Manager at Otava Publishing Company

Mari has been working in different positions for publishing industry since 2000. She has also a strong background as a foreign language teacher. During her career as a publishing manager she has developed several state-of-the-art product families and digital solutions for foreign language learning. Since 2016 she has been responsible for the management and development of the foreign language department and international sales at Otava Publishing Company Ltd which is the leading publishing company in Finland.


Mika Kasanen | Co-Founder and CEO at School Day 

Mika is the CEO of School Day with an extensive background in education and training development. He has been supporting companies, cities and schools in leadership, strategy and change. As the co-founder of School Day, he is passionate and dedicated to making a lasting impact on student and teacher wellbeing. He shares a strong vision of how education technology and intelligent analytics can provide new and innovative feedback loops for each student to reach his/her best potential. He lives in Helsinki, Finland.


Jeremy Williams | Head of School at Manor Hall International School Al Ain

Jeremy Williams is the Head of School at Manor Hall International School in Al Ain, United Arab Emirates.  As a 2018 Middle East Education Influencer Award finalist, Jeremy shares ideas and practices surrounding leadership, school culture, entrepreneurship, innovation, and authentic learning through Twitter and LinkedIn.  In addition to leading his school, Jeremy is also the host of Dismissed, a podcast about entrepreneurship, education, and expatriate life that is part of the DisruptEd TV network.  Currently finishing his Ph.D in organizational leadership, Jeremy is currently researching the impact of transformational leadership on organizational commitment of teachers in high poverty urban schools in the United States.


Aino Kuronen | Co-Founder and Head of Content Production at KIDE Science 

Aino’s education background is from Helsinki University, Faculty of Education and she specializes in storytelling in science education. Her career as a science educator for young children started five years ago and she has designed lesson materials, done pedagogical development for science learning environments, coordinated science clubs and taught science lessons. KIDE science was founded a year ago and now Aino uses her knowledge for pedagogical design and product development. She has also done public speaking and been a face for a children’s science TV-show called “Tiedonjyvä” in Finnish National Broadcasting Channel.


Ellimaija Ahonen | Co-Founder and CEO at LessonApp

Ellimaija is an enthusiastic professional in the fields of education and training. For over 15 years she has encountered hundreds of people while coaching in Finland and abroad. She has collaborated with companies, public organizations, projects and associations. She holds a Master of Social Sciences Degree and is National President of Junior Chamber International Finland in 2019. You get her attention immediately when talking about sustainability and impact in education. She loves to collaborate with different stakeholders and build fruitful relationships with customers. Ellimaija is in charge of business model development, partnerships and investor relations. She is also passionate about marketing communications and reaching milestones together with her team. 


Sanna Nummela | Lead Expert at EduCluster

Sanna, MSc (Business Economics) is currently working in EduCluster Finland as lead expert within responsibility of planning, selling and implementing Vocation Education Training programmes. She worked as a lecturer of business and commerce in vocational education in Jyväskylä, Finland and as a lead expert in overseas training programmes. Over her career, she has worked both in business life, fields of commerce and catering, and over 10 years in teaching and learning both in vocational education and higher education levels. Her core expertise is in marketing, customer service, sales and entrepreneurship.


Jane Moilanen | Founder and Head of International Operations at Mazhr

Jane has a long experience in business leadership, brand building and marketing. She is Master of Science in Economics and Business Administration, Master of Political Science, majoring in Communications and Executive MBA. Prior to founding Mazhr, she was over ten years in top management of big Nordic telecom operators Sonera and Teliasonera. She started her career in advertising industry and ended up being managing director of McCann Helsinki for seven years. She has also been Board Member of several companies and associations. She started to develop Mazhr service, which is a lifelong career advisor, with her college, to help people to find a career, where they have best possibilities to succeed and become happy, and on the other hand to help companies to identify the best potential to each position. Jane learned during her long career, how important it is early enough to understand the potential each individual has. She has also been mentoring during the last years over hundred individuals, who are hesitant about their career possibilities.


Karan Deep | Senior Innovation and Partnership Manager at GEMS Education

Karan is a design thinker with a successful background in strategy, innovation, technology and entrepreneurship. He researches, creates and executes future-focused initiatives and partnerships towards addressing educational challenges and driving exponential growth and impact. An ardent supporter of the regional entrepreneurial ecosystem, Karan has created the region’s first youth startup accelerator and leads an innovation challenge with Singularity University, which sees over 100,000 students applying their solutions to address the global grand challenges. Previously, Karan has worked with companies in UAE and UK in research and strategic growth.


Taina Mikkola | CEO and Founder at TinyApp

Taina is the CEO and Founder of TinyApp, world’s smartest pedagogical assistant for early education teachers. She has a master’s degree in education and bachelor’s degree in business. Taina has over 20 years of experience in developing working practices and ways people co-operate in different kinds of organizations. For the last two years she has been dedicated to early childhood education and finding ways to support teachers in their important work. She has seen how important meaningful relationships are in developing happiness, well-being and learning outcomes in each age level.
Saara Värtö | Head of Teacher Training at BBD Education

Saara is a Finnish educator who uses the Finnish pedagogical expertise as a Head of Teacher Training for BBD Education, a Middle East based education consultancy. She helps schools across the UAE to improve their student learning through accelerating their teachers’ professional learning. Her motto is “from teaching to learning” and she is passionate about guiding teachers to shift their focus from teaching to supporting students’ learning. She loves to inspire people, question the current education practices and support educators to grow in their thinking. According to her, the best education theorist is you.



Janne, Tuomas and Kari are an award-winning teacher, composer and music producer team from Finland. They are founders of INTO SCHOOL – a unique and internationally acknowledged education concept with the goal of having technology-supported creative learning as a natural part of education globally. INTO SCHOOL is based on the Finnish National Core Curriculum and is nominated for GESS Awards 2019 in the category of “Best Product to Promote Arts, Music and Drama in the Classroom”.



Sajida Albashir | Head of the Islamic Department at Repton School Dubai

Sajida is the Head of the Islamic Department at Repton School and has been teaching for the last 22 years. Her experience covers teaching Islamic, Arabic and Social studies and has been a middle leader for the last 14 years. Having a Bachelor’s degree in Islamic law, Sajida wanted to pursue her passion for educational research and is currently in the process of completing her Master’s degree on Education at the American University in Dubai. She also has her Professional Teaching Certificate (PTC) from AUD and has been invited to lead many educational workshops in UAE, Egypt and Jordan. Being a confident bilingual communicator in Arabic and English, she is an outstanding practitioner who is highly effective in delivering and developing a skills-based education program.





11:30 – 12:00
12:00 – 13:00
H.E. Riitta Swan and Katia Al-Kaisi
13:10 – 13:50
Olli-Pekka Heinonen
Mishal Kanoo
14:20 – 14:40
14:40- 15:20
Aino Kuronen, INTO School, Suzanne Perkowsky, moderated by Samantha Steed 


17:45 – 18:00
18:00 – 20:00




Makke Leppänen, Riku Alkio, Sajida Al Bashir, moderated by Leisa Grace Wilson

15:50 – 16:20
Markus Packalen, Jaana Wilkko, Mari Kyyhkynen, moderated by Saara Värtö

16:20 – 16:40
Elias Robot
16:45 – 17:15
Aleksi Komu, Mika Kasanen, Ellimaija Ahonen, moderated by Andrew Nolan
17:15 – 17:45
Jane Moilanen, Sanna Nummela, Karan Deep, moderated by Jeremy Williams






15.20 – 15.35

New Nordic School, Suzanne Perkowsky
15:35 – 15:50
KideScience, Aino Kuronen
15.50 – 16.05
INTO School
16.05 – 16.20
16:20 – 16:40
16.40 – 16.55
Milla Mikkola, Kindiedays
16.55 – 17.10
Kari Kasanen, Reunamo Education Research

17.10 – 17.45
Early Childhood Education: Interpreting the 'Finnish way' for the Middle East region
Milla Mikkola, Suzanne Perkowsky, Taina Mikkola, Janne Hiedanniemi, moderated by Jenny Mollon




Due to the large number of registrations our event is now full. 

Please don’t forget to visit the Finnish Pavilion at GESS Dubai 2019 on 26th to 28th of February where you can meet all the same companies presenting at the Expo! Find out more here!