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Young Ambassadors 2012/2013

Seminar 6: Business, innovation and technology inspire the Young Ambassadors at NHO

December 3, 2012
The Young Ambassadors had tons of questions lined up for all the speakers (Photo: Bjørnar Eidsmo, NHO)

The Young Ambassadors had tons of questions lined up for all the speakers (Photo: Bjørnar Eidsmo, NHO)

The list of prominent speakers from the top left: Google Director Jan Grønbech, CEO of Scatec Alf Bjørseth, CEO of NHO Kristin Skogen Lund, NHO Communications Advisor Bjørnar Eidsmo, former Minister Hanne Bjurstrøm and NHO advisor Sverre Molandsveen.

The list of prominent speakers from the top left: Google Director Jan Grønbech, CEO of Scatec Alf Bjørseth, CEO of NHO Kristin Skogen Lund, NHO Communications Advisor Bjørnar Eidsmo, former Minister Hanne Bjurstrøm and NHO advisor Sverre Molandsveen.

By Young Ambassador Sofie Jensen

The 6th seminar in the Young Ambassadors Program took place at the headquarters of NHO. Excited about the agenda for the day the Young Ambassadors took their places in the comfortable leather chairs to learn more about business and innovation in Norway.

Kristin Skogen Lund, CEO of NHO and Chairman of the board of several of Telenor’s branches opened the day with advice about working in business. Her most important message was that courage is essential if you want to go anywhere in business - the courage to not only think differently and question your superiors, but to go against the established way of doing things. She also emphasized that you are never too insignificant to make a difference if you really believe in something. As she left the room, you could hear quiet whispers between some of the girls especially, who might have found a new role model.

Sverre Molandsveen followed Skogen Lund to explain more about NHO and NHO’s role in Norwegian business. He gave the Young Ambassadors several good tips on dealing with politicians and how to lobby a case. He also shared his experiences on the dos and don’ts when trying to communicate with your target audience. In between entertaining examples from real life, Molandsveen pressed the importance of thorough preparations before any meeting you may have. NHO Communications Advisor Bjørnar Eidsmo continued the introduction to NHO and visualized a couple of difficult business expressions through a short animated film, before the Young Ambassadors tried out a new game on the NHO UNG website. The game proved to be an enjoyable break from the quite intense lectures and an opportunity to test their knowledge about Norwegian business.

After a short break Jan Grønbech, The Director of Google Norway, held a lecture on the Google story and important elements in innovation. Grøbech described the unique work environment in Google and how they focus on their mission “to organize the world’s information and making it universally available and user-friendly”. His most important message on innovation in Google is based on a couple of core values; you should always be allowed to fail; you need to share information and be open; and you should aim on pleasing your customers before focusing on profit – all essential to Google’s success he claimed. The fascinating story of Google engaged the Young Ambassadors greatly and they flocked around Grøbech to quiz him about everything from work environment to internet in outer space well into the lunch break.

Next speaker was former Minister of Labor and Social Inclusion Hanne Bjurstrøm, who came to talk about the labor force in Norway and the challenges the country faces in labor related issues like the ageing population and the high number depending on social welfare benefits. This was a more politically related view on Norwegian business, which gave fresh input and a different viewpoint than the other lectures. Since she was a former Minister she felt free to speak more frankly on a couple of the more delicate subjects, which engaged the Young Ambassadors who had many questions to ask.

The last lecturer of the day was noted innovator and CEO of Scatec Industries Alf Bjørseth. Scatec is an incubator which founds new companies and invests in them before selling them off. They work mainly in clean energy and advanced technology, and are one of the biggest players in clean energy in Norway. But Bjørseths focus for the day was not on his own company, but rather on what he felt is needed to succeed with innovation and what Norway is going to live off of in the future. He assured his listeners that energy production is what Norway is good at and should continue to work on, because according to Bjørseth, Norway’s strength is and will be our high level of competence and knowledge within this field. This we must continue to groom and encourage through research and an open curious view on what’s happening outside of Norway. When it came to innovation and making it as an entrepreneur, “passion” was a keyword in his advice, which he illustrated nicely with an equation made by the noted Norwegian philosopher Arne Næss (Contentment equals passion2 divided by mental suffering + physical suffering). He also emphasized how innovation is people and their wish to create something, and how important the people and their passions are when working with innovation.  

To finish the day the Young Ambassadors were taken to NHO’s interactive Visitor Center. Here, after watching some short films about business, they were divided into teams and assigned the task of helping businesses in the fictive town “Yppestad”. It was a close race where the competitive instincts came to show, but in the end the red and orange team could claim a joint victory. This was the ideal way to end such an informative and exciting seminar, and there were a lot of content, smiling faces to be seen when the Young Ambassadors exited the NHO headquarters into the biting winter-cold that evening.

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