All posts by Didrik Ottesen

NACC chapter opens in Los Angeles

In Field of Dreams, James Earl Jones tells a broke farmer if he builds a baseball diamond, “people will come.” The next scene is cars lined up to see baseball played in an Iowa cornfield. That’s Hollywood.

Building Norwegian American Chamber of Commerce Los Angeles will not follow a Hollywood script. President Erik Steigen and the board know that. On Aug. 2, NACC Los Angeles Chapter, Inc. was incorporated in the State of California. On Sept. 20, the NACC Board of Directors voted unanimously on affiliation. LA becomes the ninth chapter and first since Philadelphia in 2013.

“We are starting from scratch,” said Steigen. “We didn’t get any funding to start up this chapter. None of us are getting paid. We literally just started our membership drive. We focused on getting the infrastructures in place: social media accounts, website, a newsletter, bringing on board sponsors. To date, we’ve brought on board three sponsors, helping us establish some basic funding for activities, startup costs, and ongoing expenses. We hope to be able to generate some enthusiasm.”

“The NACC headquarters in New York joins the other NACC chapters in welcoming the NACC Los Angeles Chapter,” says NACC President Cameron Beard. “We are very pleased with the new chapter’s activities to date. Erik Steigen and his group are doing a great job in reaching out to the increasingly large and diverse community of Norwegian and Norwegian-American businesses in Southern California. We will continue to support them as they move forward with this exciting new venture.”

The sponsors are Pacific Western Bank, Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, LLP, law firm, and R.D. Olson Development.

The task is additionally ambitious because LA is the only chapter in the Golden State.

“Because we are the only one in the state, we figured we should have an outlook that goes beyond Los Angeles,” Steigen said. “For practical purposes, we are concentrating on the greater Los Angeles area and Southern California, from Santa Barbara down to San Diego.

“There are a lot of other Norwegian institutions in San Francisco: the consul general, the Nordic Innovation House, Innovation Norway. Not down here. We’re the only one in terms of Norwegian anyway. That also gives us some advantages. We’ve already seen a collaboration with the consulate and Innovation Norway. When they get contacted by Norwegian businesses and organizations that want to come to LA, they are telling them to contact me.”

Steigen is CEO of USA Media Rights, Inc., and is joined on the board by Asbjørn Egir, adjunct faculty, College of Business Administration, California State Polytechnic University, Pomona; Dana Michels Gabrielsen, senior manager, contracts, at Service Titan; Audun Poulsen, general manager, Courtyard by Marriott Irvine Spectrum (the top Courtyard in the world), and Erik Rolland, dean and professor, College of Business Administration, California State Polytechnic University, Pomona.

While Los Angeles being the entertainment capital of the world attracts Norwegians, Steigen writes in one of the newsletters, “our board of directors bring expertise in many other areas including education, travel, and hospitality, all very significant for businesses in California.”

As part of getting the message out, they have tweaked the NACC acronym to represent: “Networking, Alliances, Community, Collaboration,” which Steigen welcomes other chapters to borrow. There are three membership tiers: Student; Associate for individuals; and Entrepreneur for small-business owners and entrepreneurial professionals. As an incentive, those who joined online by Dec. 31 were entered to win one of two weekend stays at the Courtyard by Marriott Irvine Spectrum.

“We’ve already had people signing up,” said Steigen. “We have over 50 people in our LinkedIn group, almost 200 people following us on Instagram, and we’ve got a Facebook group.”

On the one hand, the size of LA would seem fertile ground. On the other, the size creates competing business interests. Like many other chapters, the same industries are not viable in all cities.

“In New York, you have the finance industry, big banks, the Norwegian Oil Fund, other big industrial companies,” said Steigen. “Houston has oil. From my perspective, you have a much more corporate structure in terms of membership. Out here, you have a lot more individuals, people pursuing a career in entertainment, musicians, actors, models. There’s a lot of film production companies that may be Norwegian, smaller companies, then individuals, who are potential members for us.

“People who have been here a while have built their own networks. We have to try different things. If we don’t get a good response from the people we know are here, we’ll focus more on what can we do for Norwegian entrepreneurs who want to come to LA.”

In January, there will be a panel on using social media to build your brand, and a joint program with the Finnish consulate, the Swedish Chamber, and a Danish organization, Nordic LA, about music and leadership.

“I’ve met with Norwegians out here to see what they think is needed and what people respond to,” said Steigen. “You have to give people something that can be helpful to them. We don’t always have to have Norwegians featured at our events because that is not necessarily going to help you in your business pursuits. We’re going to need to find some balance. For Norwegian companies that come here, we can help them with business connections and referrals. We want to be a resource for people.

“I have an interest in this because I think it’s a shame there hasn’t been a viable chapter here. There’s a lot of potential. It’s exciting to become more aware of what’s going on out here. We are already seeing that American businesses are excited about the idea of a Norwegian-American Chamber and see the value of getting some attention in this community for future business. If we have events that create value for individuals or for small businesses, then I think they will come.”

A chamber of their dreams.

US Chamber of Commerce: 2019 State of American Business Address

U.S. Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Thomas J. Donohue, in his annual State of American Business address today, laid out the business community’s top policy priorities for the coming year, casting the organization’s agenda as a means for preserving, strengthening, and expanding the American dream.

Tackling the U.S. economy’s workforce challenges—including through education and immigration reform—was labeled by Donohue as a key priority for 2019. Donohue also highlighted how modernizing America’s infrastructure, leveraging trade, and making it easier for businesses to go and stay public will be top issues for the year ahead. He rebutted talk of an economic downturn as he touted continued low unemployment, rising wages, and strong growth.

“Our challenge today is to preserve, strengthen, and expand the American dream—and put it within the reach of every child, every family, every worker, and every entrepreneur,” said Donohue. “The Chamber’s agenda for 2019 and beyond is built around this simple idea: to harness our newfound economic strength, do everything we can to keep it going, and to put it to work on behalf of all Americans who hope for a shot at their own unique American dream.”

Donohue’s remarks as prepared for delivery are available online here.

Additionally, Donohue listed several other issues on which the U.S. Chamber will actively engage this year, including health care, energy, regulation and legal reform, cybersecurity, and technology and intellectual property. Today’s event marked the 20th delivery of the annual address by Donohue, who has led the U.S. Chamber since 1997.

Amerikanske Madison med storkjøp i Bjørvika

Amerikanske Madison International er tilbake i det norske markedet etter en storavtale som gir de nesten alt av de publikumsrettede lokalene i Bjørvika.

Avtalen, som er tilrettelagt av Arctic Securities, innebærer seks transaksjoner som gir Madison tilnærmet full kontroll over de kommersielle publikumsrettede arealene på bygulvet i Bjørvika. Madison kjøper Sørenga, Sørengkaia og de tilhørende parkeringsfasilitetene på Sørenga og Munch Brygge. Samtidig har Oslo S Utvikling akseptert et bud på butikk-, kultur- og serveringslokalene i Barcode og nordre del av Bispevika.

Det er gjennom det nyopprettede selskapet Oslo Bay District at Madison har gjort kjøpet. Carl Erik Kreftings Carucel skal etter hvert stå for den kommersielle forvaltningen av eiendommene.

Ved å kjøpe Sørenga, Sørengkaia og de tilhørende parkeringsfasilitetene på Sørenga, samt Munch Brygge, har Oslo Bay District sikret seg kontroll over et utleibart areal på 11 000 kvadratmeter og 270 parkeringsplasser. Det planlagte kjøpet av Barcode og Bispevika Nord vil tilføre ytterligere 27.000 kvadratmeter med utleibart bruttoareal, og dermed bringe totalarealet på grunnplan til 38.000 kvadratmeter.

– Vår visjon er å utvikle Bjørvika til Norges mest attraktive område, og vi er glade for å selge bygulvet til en kjøper som vil bidra til at denne visjonen virkeliggjøres. OSU fortsetter å utvikle boliger og kontorer i Bjørvika, samt næringslokaler på andre tomter vi kontrollerer i Bjørvika. Frem til inngåelse av bindende kjøpekontrakt vil vi også videreføre vårt utleiearbeid i Barcode og Bispevika Nord, sier adm. direktør Rolf Thorsen i Oslo S Utvikling i en kommentar.

Arctic Securities har vært Madisons rådgiver i struktureringen, fasiliteringen og finansieringen av de seks ulike transaksjonene som utgjør majoriteten av bygulvet i Bjørvika og som inngår i det nye selskapet Oslo Bay District. Akershus Eiendom har vært OSU’s rådgiver, samt Stor Oslo’s rådgiver ifm. salget av Munch Brygge.

Mads Syversen i Arctic Securities sier til Estate Nyheter at han ikke kan si noe om den samlede verdien på de seks transaksjonene som har fire selgere.

– Det er jo alltid komplisert med transaksjoner uansett størrelse. Her startet det med at vi la inn et bud på Sørenga, tenkt som et syndikeringsprosjekt. Samtidig hadde vi noen tanker om å samle alt av de kommersielle publikumsrettede virksomhetene på Sørenga. Så viste det seg at mulig å få tak i Munch Brygge og parkeringene. Og så kom OSUs bygulv ut i markedet. Vi begynte jobbingen i juli 2018, så det har vært en lang prosess, sier Syversen.

Han synes det er hyggelig at Madison nå er tilbake i Norge etter å ha eid Statoil-bygget (Equinor nå) på Fornebu og hatt en joint venture med Søylen Eiendom for Eger og Steen og Strøm-magasinet.

– De gjorde det veldig bra der og sett etter nye muligheter i Norge, sier Arctic-sjefen.

– Vi har jobbet tett sammen med Arctic Securities siden 2012 i forbindelse med våre tidligere transaksjoner i Norge, og er svært fornøyde med at Arctic tidligere i høst presenterte oss for ideen om å sikre eierskap av bygulvet i Bjørvika, som vi mener vil være verdiskapende for områdets fremtidige utvikling. Bjørvika har alle forutsetninger for å bli Norges mest attraktive bysentrale område. For å hente ut områdets fulle potensiale er det avgjørende å sette sammen et velfungerende bygulv gjennom et samlet eierskap. De forskjellige eiendomsutviklerne, med OSU som utviklere av Barcode, Bispevika Nord og Bispevika Sør i spissen, har gjort en fremdragende jobb med å legge grunnlaget for bygulvet. Sammen med Carucel er vår visjon og vårt ønske å skape et samlet brukertilbud på bakkeplan som bygger videre på hovedideene som danner grunnlaget for OSU sin utvikling av området og Bjørvikas unike kvaliteter, hvilket vil sikre et best mulig totaltilbud, sier Derek Jacobson, Co-Chief Investment Officer og Managing Director for European Investments i Madison.

Norway considering whether to exclude Huawei from building 5G network

Norway is considering whether to join other western nations in excluding China’s Huawei Technologies from building part of the Nordic country’s new 5G telecommunications infrastructure, its justice minister said on Wednesday.

The Norwegian government is currently discussing measures to reduce potential vulnerabilities in its telecoms industry ahead of the upgrade.

State-controlled operator Telenor, which has 173 million subscribers across eight countries in Europe and Asia, signed its first major contract with Huawei in 2009, a deal that helped pave way for the Chinese firm’s global expansion.

Telenor and competitor Telia currently use 4G Huawei equipment in Norway and are testing equipment from the Chinese company in their experimental 5G networks.

“We share the same concerns as the United States and Britain and that is espionage on private and state actors in Norway,” Justice Minister Tor Mikkel Wara told Reuters on the sidelines of a business conference.

“This question is high priority … we want to have this in place before we build the next round of the telecom network.”

Asked whether there could be actions taken against Huawei specifically, Wara said: “Yes, we are considering the steps taken in other countries, that is part of it – the steps taken in the United States and Britain.”

Huawei said its equipment was secure.

“Our customers in Norway have strong security requirements of us and they manage the risk in their operations in a good way,” said Tore Orderloekken, Cyber Security Officer at Huawei Norway.

“We will continue to be open and transparent and offer extended testing and verification of our equipment to prove that we can deliver secure products in the 5G network in Norway,” he told Reuters.

In Beijing on Thursday, Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said the government encouraged Chinese enterprises to obey the laws of the countries where they operate and similarly requested other nations to provide a level playing field for Chinese firms.

“If that equilibrium is broken then it’s not a good thing for either economy,” he told a daily news briefing.

In August, U.S. President Donald Trump signed a bill that barred the U.S. government from using Huawei equipment and is mulling an executive order that would also bar U.S. companies from doing so.

Milliardavtale til IBM

Nordea outsourcer hele sin stormaskinvirksomhet til IBM. Avtalen er verd drøye 4,6 milliarder kroner. Omlag 120 Nordea-ansatte overføres til IBM.

IBM åpner det nye året friskt. Selskapet har nylig kunngjort at de overtar Nordeas stormaskininfrastruktur for videre drift. Dette er IBM Z-systemer som brukes i Nordeas drift i Danmark, Norge, Sverige, Finland og Polen, opplyser IBM til våre kolleger i Computerworld Danmark.

Denne nye avtalen er en videreføring av et samarbeid som opprinnelig begynte i 2003, men partene opplyser ikke hvor lang tidshorisont denne nye avtalen har.

Overfører 120 ansatte

Som en del av den nye avtalen skal 120 Nordea-ansatte overføres til IBMs serviceorganisasjon. Ifølge Computerworld Danmark dreier dette seg om personell som i hovedsak jobber i Nordea Sverige og Danmark i dag.

«Kontrakten om managed services mellom Nordea og IBM bygger på et aktivt forhold mellom selskapene. Den er forskjellig fra tidligere stormaskinavtaler ved sin unike mulighet til å skrive opp SLA-en (Service Level Agreement) basert på førstehåndserfaringen med å kjøre Nordeas stormaskiner», skriver partene i pressemeldingen.

I IBMs pressemelding er kontrakten oppgitt til å være verd 540 millioner dollar, noe som tilsvarer cirka 4.615.970.000 norske kroner etter dagens kurs.

Norway Oil Lobby Hikes Spending Forecasts, Sees 16% Jump in 2019

Norway’s oil lobby raised its forecast for investments in the country’s petroleum industry as cost cuts during a three-year downturn made projects more profitable and able to withstand even the recent slump in crude prices.

  • Oil and gas companies operating in Norway will invest 184.5 billion kroner ($21.5 billion) in 2019, the Norwegian Oil and Gas Association said in annual forecasts on Monday. That’s a 16 percent jump from 2018, and compares to a prediction of 153 billion kroner made in December 2017.

Key Takeaways

  • The group raised spending forecasts for each years through 2022. It expects investments to peak this year, remain little changed in 2020, and then drop to 141.5 billion kroner in 2023.
  • The lobby warned that these forecasts depend on framework conditions remaining stable for the industry, following public debate surrounding issues like petroleum taxes.
  • Investments in Norway’s oil and gas industry rose for the first time in four years in 2018, thanks to higher commodity prices and drastic cost reductions.
  • Despite benchmark Brent crude dipping from $85 a barrel to about $58 in the past three months, prices remain above the lows of less than $30 in 2016. Crucially, they also exceed the price needed by recent projects offshore Norway to break even.

Know More

  • Norway’s statistics office in November boosted its oil-spending estimate for 2019 to 175 billion kroner, based on its latest quarterly survey of oil companies.
  • The Norwegian Petroleum Directorate, the industry regulator, is publishing its annual production, investment and exploration prognoses on Thursday.
  • The Norwegian Oil and Gas Association’s members include oil companies such as state-controlled national champion Equinor ASA, Exxon Mobil Corp. and Royal Dutch Shell Plc, in addition to industry suppliers from Schlumberger Ltd to Aker Solutions ASA.

Electric Cars on Course to Be the New Normal In Norway

Almost one-third of all new cars sold in Norway last year ran on batteries, reinforcing the Nordic country’s reputation as the world’s best market for electric vehicles.

Oil-rich Norway aims to eliminate all emissions from new cars by 2025, and offers generous subsidies for buyers who opt to go electric. Other countries, including China, plan to follow suit later. In 2018, all-electric cars made up 31.2 percent of the Norwegian market, an improvement of more than 10 percentage points from the the previous year, the Norwegian Road Federation said.

“In 2018, alternative-fuel cars consolidated their strong position in the market,” the federation’s director, Oyvind Solberg Thorsen, said in a statement.

Tesla Has Proven It Can Sell Cars in Norway. Fixing Them? Not So Much

Norway, a country of 5.3 million, has long been a world leader in sales of electric vehicles. It wasn’t until the first quarter of last year that it was surpassed by Germany, Europe’s biggest car market. The incentives that propped up the Norwegian market include exemption from sales taxes and road tolls.

Solberg Thorsen said he expects an even bigger share of battery-powered cars going forward, as there is still an untapped demand for more family-friendly electric vehicles, with longer range at reasonable prices.

Norway Unemployment Holds at 4% as People Flock to Labor Market

Norway’s unemployment rate was unchanged at 4 percent in October for a fourth month as more people sought jobs, providing backing to the central bank’s plan to raise interest rates again over the next months.

Surveyed unemployment edged up to 114,000 from 113,000 in September, while the number of employed grew to 2.714 million from 2.707 million, according to Statistics Norway. The employment rate rose to the highest in at least three years.

Key Insights

  • The strong labor market gives backing to Norway’s central bank’s plan to raise interest rates again in March.
  • Policy makers tightened in September for the first time in seven years as the economy has now fully recovered from the collapse in oil prices in 2014.
  • Central bank in December lowered its long-term rate forecast amid growing concerns over a recent slide in oil prices and slowing growth abroad.
  • The so-called AKU rate is a broad measure of unemployment, which measures the jobless rate via a survey of households.
  • Norway’s central bank prefers to look at registered unemployment, which was 2.3 percent at the end of the year.

What Economists Say

  • “The recent increase in the labor force suggests that labor market tightness is more limited than what the strong employment numbers suggest, thus adding to our view of slight downside risk to Norges Bank’s wage growth estimates for 2019,” Swedbank economist Marlene Skjellet Granerud said in a note.
  • “For Norges Bank, continued strength of labor markets is important in order to ensure that households can cope with higher interest rates, since solid jobs growth and a closing of the output gap is expected to push wages higher and support consumption,” SEB analyst Tobias Ogrim said in a note.
  • “Today’s data release does not affect the outlook for the key policy rate path,” Handelsbanken economist Marius Gonsholt Hov said in a note.

International Leadership Interview: Jason Turflinger, AmCham Norway

“I collaborate with all kinds of people with all kinds of strengths and try to sponge it all up. It is almost embarrassing, but I have never had a mentor. At least not someone defined as my mentor, but tens of people have been my mentor without really knowing it.”

International Leadership Interview: Jason Turflinger,

Jason Turflinger addressing the attendees at AmCham’s annual Thanksgiving Charity Dinner (Photo: Nancy Bundt)

Originally only planning to live abroad for a few years, little did Jason Turflinger know — back in 1998 — that he, twenty years later, would have a station wagon and a family in suburban Oslo and be heading up the American Chamber of Commerce in Norway, having transformed the organization and quadrupled its size since taking the helm.

Where did you start? International experiences? Brief description of your path to where you are now.

I am from Fort Wayne, Indiana and moved to Tampa, Florida to attend the University of South Florida. There, I happened to have a Norwegian roommate. I went to visit him on my way to move to work for a bank in Moscow – I always thought that I would like to live abroad for a year or two. And here I am, still in Norway, 20 years later.

Having previously worked for Bank of America, in 1999, I got the working papers in Norway and started with a consultancy firm. They did innovative management consultancy while also functioning as an incubator. There were 12 companies in the incubator and the expectation was for four or five of these companies to survive or prosper. Interestingly, my role there also included being the search expert of the office. You see, I was familiar with this amazing tool called Google and knew how to use it properly.

Having worked there for a few years. I subsequently started my own firm. I was then engaged to start at AmCham for a 50% management-for-hire position. I realized quickly, however, that it was more than a 50% job, but I also saw a lot of potential and quite frankly, it was a lot of fun! I’ve always said that if there was no such thing as money, I would still do most of my job for free – and that still holds true after more than 15 years.

Having said that, AmCham has changed significantly since then. In 2003, we had 63 members and we are now close to 250. We have essentially quadrupled in size, both in terms of members and employees. The scope of what we do has changed, too. Our three focus areas are events, members services and advocacy. Previously, we did some member services, but not nearly what we have the capacity to offer our members now. We have always done events, but also the scope of our events has changed. We are currently able to offer more specific, themed roundtables and forums, which enables us to cater to a wide array of our members divided across 22 industries.

What are the important decisions you make as a leader of your organization and how do they impact its global presence? Share any recent examples?

We are one of 117 AmChams around the world. I like to think that our take on issues impacts at least the Nordic and the European groups, of which there are 42. We can draw upon the US Chamber in Washington DC as well, who are working with all 117 AmChams around the world.

International Leadership Interview: Jason Turflinger

Jason Turflinger meeting Chicago Mayor and previous Cheif of Staff to Barack Obama, Rahm Emanuel as AmChams in Europe visited Washington DC in 2018.

Looking at AmCham Norway-specific decisions; long-term planning and long-term relationship building is some of the most important work I do.

Interestingly, most of the significant decisions that I make are not just what we agree to do on behalf of members and transatlantic interests, equally imperative is what we say no to. For every initiative or issue we take on, we are declining 6-7 suggestions. Not because they are not good initiatives, but we must maximize our resources and choose the issues where we can have the most impact.

How do you build team morale and maintain the creativity of a diverse team within an international organization? 

One of the reasons we come in to the office is to energize each other and for information to flow freely. It is key that communication is open in the office and that ideas are exchanged openly.

In such a manner, I am more of a facilitator than a director. It is my job to facilitate so that the employees can perform. The worst thing I can imagine, is if someone sits on information that could be useful for other people in the organization.

Additionally, I think that creativity and new ideas come when you have a diverse team. Particularly in Norway, the hiring process is one of the most important aspects of a leader’s responsibilities. About 15 years ago, I attended a seminar where a speaker said that “one should hire people that are exactly the same as you, because business is hard enough.” That is probably the exact opposite of what I am trying to do. I look at the totality of the team to see what is missing and try to find that person that improves and compliments the team. I learn something every day from the team and I want to work with people who speak openly and freely. Subsequently, that builds trust among colleagues, our Board and whomever else we collaborate with.

Through AmCham initiatives, such as our forums, we carefully build trust and connect the correct people to ensure good exchange and information flow.

Would you use the same leadership style in a different organization? In a different country? How important is it to tailor your leadership style to your team and environment?

Yes, I would. Everyone likes to talk about how flat the Norwegian structure is in the work place. At the same time, I don’t think it is as rigid in the US as many imply, either.

In the US, like Norway, most companies are small and medium-sized. It is important to remember that most American companies are not the size of Google and ExxonMobil.

However, out of sheer necessity, when you have a company like Lockheed Martin with hundreds of thousands of employees, it must be structured differently than a 10-person shop.

In terms of tailoring my leadership, I have most certainly matured as a leader over the years. I am more hands-off than I used to be. The realization that if the approach used for a project or assignment does not correspond with my idea of how it should be, it does not necessarily mean that it is wrong – it is just a different approach and I appreciate that. I worry less about whether it is done my way or another way, but more about the result for our mission as AmCham and promoting transatlantic business interests.

Quite frankly, I cannot be involved with everything. I would just be a bottleneck for progress and that is the worst thing I can imagine being as a leader.

Where do new ideas and exciting proposals come from in your organization? Has your international experience helped you ‘think outside the box’ in your organization?

From our members and colleagues. I talk to member companies and colleagues daily and they might come up with an idea. Next thing you know, one idea triggers another and suddenly the mold for an initiative starts taking shape. I am lucky, as we have a very engaged and proactive group of member company representatives that we get to work with on a regular basis. That is one of the most enjoyable aspects of this job; there are so many talented people working with different member companies and within different industries – and they all have good ideas.

International Leadership Interview: Jason Turflinger

Jason Turflinger addressing the Rising Leaders participants at the kick-off event of the program, co-launched with the US Embassy.

Admittedly, sometimes people must push and tug on me. I – like everyone – can be set in my ways sometimes. But I appreciate when people don’t take “no” for an answer.

Perhaps my international background has an impact there, as well. The ability to look at certain Norway-specific themes from an outside and macro perspective is useful in my job. Looking at long-term development for Norway – and how Norwegians perceive themselves related to international competition – is one example where the outside-view is useful. Sometimes it appears as though domestic decision-makers do not realize that Norway is indeed competing with neighboring countries for foreign investments.

Just consider the rise of attention and funding for start-ups and entrepreneurial activities in Norway. It is great, but neighboring countries have been doing this for a long time – with varying levels of success and lessons to be learned. Being able to see that big picture from a different perspective is important.

How do you ensure that your team and your company’s services are aligned to your company’s core vision?

Through constant dialogue with member companies. Like any non-profit organization, we have our bylaws. But it is through active communication with our member company leaders that we stay updated on relevant issues, as well as matters of importance for the Norway-US relationship. We do not pretend to be at the center of all these issues, but we provide input and assistance where we can be helpful.

In terms of member dialogue, we do sit down to have formal strategy sessions. More informal conversations are, however, the norm. It is all about the level of trust we have with member companies and there is no easy way or shortcut to building a strong foundation of trust. It takes years to establish and can be lost in a matter of minutes. Hence, the importance of being respectful of our relationships with member companies and the relationships they have with each other is key.

What do you believe are shared traits among leaders? Any common mistakes? What is unique about being a leader in Norway compared to leading an organization in another country?

I believe that a shared trait among good leaders is the ability to be open to feedback and to directly engage employees. The members we work with are knowledge-based. For me, being able to draw upon that knowledge and be inspired by them is beneficial. Everyone needs inspiration. Networks such as ours are an ideal way to meet other leaders from various industries and draw inspiration from their developments, ideas or achievements.

International Leadership Interview: Jason Turflinger

Welcoming attendees at AmCham’s 2016 Election Night event at now OsloMet University (photo: Nancy Bundt)

Generally, in Norway, the open-door policy is very important. The flip side – where we have seen expat leaders not do well – is the top down approach. When new expat leaders arrive and start implementing strategy without explanation or room for interpretation, employees lose the “why.” Those tend not to be long expat leader engagements.

Leaders – and expat leaders in particular – are in their roles to make changes. Particularly important is how they make change decisions and how open they are about them. If they immediately start complaining about working hours and employee engagement, those are challenges they need to adapt to and address, rather than simply being annoyed about.

How do you continue growing and developing as a leader?

I am inspired by the leaders that I work with. If I see a strong public speaker, or an excellent strategic thinker, I try to learn from them. I collaborate with all kinds of people with all kinds of strengths and I try to sponge it all up. It is almost embarrassing, but I have never had a mentor. At least not someone defined as my mentor, but tens of people have been my mentor without really knowing it.

Whatever makes you uncomfortable in your job as part of your professional duties needs to be addressed. If long-term strategic work is painful and you keep putting it off, you need to suck it up and lean on those who can help you address it. It is easy to get set in your ways and you can only progress if you force yourself to improve in the aspects of your job that you are least comfortable with.

What are some of your/company’s recent projects and developments that you are excited to share?

The CFO forum is very exciting. We have been planning it for quite a while. There is no other recurring forum or meeting place for CFOs with internationally-oriented companies to meet – at least without being sold to. Generally, I think that is comforting with our forums. There is no hidden agenda. If there is one, it is to have an open and honest dialogue and dare to discuss failures, not only successes.

A while ago, I attended an event. It was a good and very professional discussion, but not any examples from the participants mentioning any mistakes or anything that had gone wrong. That is the big difference; for these forums to function ideally, it is about creating an environment of trust.

That can be a challenge, as new people are invited to each quarterly session. Consequently, it is essential to keep a core group of participants so that level of trust is maintained.

Moreover, we have always been a very busy shop, but we have not always been good at telling our members and partners about all that we are doing and why. We are now openly sharing our various initiatives and getting that information out. That enables our stakeholders to be more proactive on behalf of Norway-US business interests. Generally, people are now more aware of what our priority issues are – and that is important.

You get the podium at Stortinget for 5 minutes, what topic(s) do you address and why?

Norway’s competitiveness. Yes, we are friends and allies with our neighbors, but at the end of the day, in terms of where companies decide to invest and grow their business, I want Norway to be competitive. Make no mistake, Norway is competing with Sweden, Denmark and Finland to attract foreign investment.

It has come automatically for Norway for the past 40 years, as the energy sector has attracted enormous foreign interests, but now, we are approaching a new juncture.

Yes, a lot of money is being allocated to fund various industrial segments and homegrown startups, which is great. At the same time, we should not forget – and there should be more work – to retain and attract interest from foreign investors. Both through public-private partnerships and direct collaboration. Larger companies need legitimate business motives to partner with smaller companies. Such partnerships are only a good thing.

International Leadership Interview: Jason Turflinger

(Photo: Nancy Bundt)

I remember a quote I heard a while back from an established company leader: “just because I don’t hang out at a coffee shop doesn’t mean I am not innovative.”

Look at industries like healthcare, technology, and food & beverage; for them, it does not necessarily matter where in the world they are centralized. We can do more to attract — and be a hub for — some of these industries. If not in the world, at least in Northern Europe.

If you could give your 20-year old self some advice, what would that be?

Don’t work as much! At that time, I was going to university full-time and working full-time. Eating Taco Bell in my car on my way from school to work in the afternoons, five to six days a week. It was rewarding, because I was earning more money than most students, but I should have dedicated more time to being a student, and worried about my career later. I will give that same advice to my kids, who are quickly approaching that age.

What do you see in the next generation of leaders aspiring to run an international organization? Advice to them?

Be patient and do a good job where you are. If you do well, it will get noticed and you will get your chances. People say a lot about millennials and their natural digital awareness, whereas we had to learn all of that in our adult lives. Leaders today need to respect that and be comfortable with the fact that they will never be as digitally advanced as subsequent generations. At the same time, the coming generation needs to respect experience and know-how gained from decades of professional experience.

As I tell my teenage son, you do not know what you do not know yet, and that is ok. Be aware of that, however, and be interested in learning new skills and adapting new knowledge. Your career will span decades, and you will learn.

What is the latest time you responded to an email last night?

I wrote an email last night, or, had written most of it during the day, but needed to check something. I then hit “send” at about nine in the evening.

The Coca-Cola Company Completes Acquisition of Costa from Whitbread PLC

The Coca-Cola Company today announced that it has completed the acquisition of Costa Limited from Whitbread PLC. The $4.9 billion transaction follows approval from regulatory authorities in the European Union and China.

This press release features multimedia. View the full release here:

The acquisition was first announced on Aug. 31, 2018.

Costa, which has operations in more than 30 countries, gives Coca-Cola a significant footprint in the global coffee business. Worldwide, the coffee segment is growing 6% annually. Costa has a scalable platform across multiple formats and channels, from the existing Costa Express vending system to opportunities to introduce ready-to-drink products.

“We see great opportunities for value creation through the combination of Costa’s capabilities and Coca-Cola’s marketing expertise and global reach,” said James Quincey, CEO of The Coca-Cola Company. “Our vision is to use the strong Costa platform to expand our portfolio in the growing coffee category.”

“We wish our friends and colleagues at Costa all the very best for their future success,” said Alison Brittain, Whitbread Chief Executive. “Whitbread acquired Costa 23 years ago, when it had only 39 shops. Costa has grown to become a leading, international coffee brand, and Coca-Cola is the right partner to take Costa to the next stage of expansion.”

For more information, see the original announcements about the transactions: