All posts by Madeleine Brekke

AmCham Financial Forum: IPO Frenzy and Transparent Compensation

AmCham Financial Forum: IPO Frenzy and Transparent Compensation

Leaders gathered at KPMG Norway’s downtown offices for AmCham’s quarterly Financial Forum. Reflecting on his own observations over the past years’ “Norwegian IPO Frenzy,” our forum was kicked off by Geir Bjørlo, Partner at Corporate Communications. With 100 listings since 2020, the pace has now slowed to only a handful due to current uncertainty.

Oslo Børs is hotter than Nasdaq and London. Oslo Børs holds a unique position internationally and is world-leading within the energy, shipping and seafood sectors, making Norway a preferred country for IPOs – as international stakeholders trust Norway’s financial institutions and methods.

Most of the Norwegian IPOs are related to sustainable investments and “energy capital” considerations. More listings are expected to take place post-summer, with the next window occurring in September through October.

“Uplisting” has been a buzzword over the past 12 months, says Bjørlo, referring to the process of listing an existing public stock on a major exchange. For example, transferring the listing venue from Euronext Growth to the main list on Oslo Børs. Uplisting reflects the company’s growth ambitions and shareholder base while contributing to increased visibility and access to a larger investor audience.

It has been very common for companies going public to announce targets for their projected earnings in 2025 rather than their actual past performance since a lot of companies still don’t have meaningful revenues. This practice is not usual on the NYSE for example.

Bjørlo walked participants through the “IPO toolbox,” illustrating how to build a trustworthy and credible company, as well as how to avoid post-listing value destruction. “ESG reporting is where accounting was in the 50’s,” suggesting there is still much work to be done in making ESG reporting more sophisticated.

Norway continues to be a preferred country for investments in seafood, shipping and energy, with the latter now branching to renewables in addition to “traditional” energy markets.

Presenters

Geir Bjørlo – Partner

Simona Vasile – Tax & Legal Partner 

CC powerpoint graphic
Image: Corporate Communications

Empowering Talent: Structure, Values, Technology Enabled Processes, and Equitable and Transparent Compensation

Simona Vasile, KPMG Tax & Legal Partner and the Head of Technology & Innovation at KPMG Law, presented trends and methodologies on current pain points of talent retention, gender pay gaps, how the remote workforce is reshaping policy decisions, and compensation benefit strategies while preserving value.

Following the pandemic, many companies still allow their employees to work remotely, however, making sure the employees stay compliant becomes a bigger liability. According to Vasile, “the ability to work remotely looks amazing from the talent perspective but can be an absolute headache for companies.” For employees looking to work from another country, this could mean that they need to be paid the local salary and pay taxes in the country they work from. Vasile also notes that there are differences between industries. Tech companies generally allow their employees more remote work than other industries.

Companies have tried to incentivize employees to stay in their positions (and some at their desks, or at least their country) through a variety of perks such as travel, bikes, and meals, but each incentive requires many layers of administration for the company. Many companies therefore opt for monetary bonuses according to Vasile.

Vasile also shared innovative technology insights using automation, AI and data analytics to both better understand employee preferences and customize the employee experience by creating seamless interactions with collaborators and partners. One such tool that KPMG uses is an Employment Methodology Framework to evaluate companies on aspects including employee retention, diversity and gender balance, and employee compensation.

Image: KPMG

About the AmCham Financial Forum

The AmCham Financial Forum is a platform that provides member financial leads the opportunity to interact, share best practices, and learn from each other – building a better understanding of what it takes to run a successful international finance department in Norway. 

Read more about our Financial Forum and please contact Madeleine.brekke@amcham.no for interest in future meetings.

Rising Leaders: External Perspectives with Pablo Barrera Lopez

Rising Leaders: External Perspectives with Pablo Barrera Lopez

Rising Leaders participants visited Yara International’s headquarters where they were welcomed by Senior Vice President of Food Systems Transformation, Pablo Barrera Lopez.

After a detailed overview of Yara’s history and mission, Pablo shared his personal career journey and how he landed his first role at Yara. Pablo grew up in Haugesund and holds a Bachelor of Science in Economics and Business Administration and a Master of Science in Finance, both from the Norwegian School of Economics (NHH). After nearly five years of working at Boston Consulting Group, he was eager to influence the direction of a company and wanted to work internationally. Yara fit the bill. During his eight-year tenure at one of the most international companies in the country, he’s held diverse roles ranging from strategy and business development to supply chain and even Country Manager of Yara Chile, his parent’s homeland.

Currently, Pablo still works at Yara, however he has been seconded to IMAGINE as the Executive Director of the Food Collective. There, food and beverage company CEOs address issues in the food industry to systematically collaborate on challenges across the value chain. 

Pablo emphasized the importance of connecting with colleagues outside of one’s function and exposing oneself to external perspectives – “otherwise, you become too operational.” He considers himself to have a very low threshold for reaching out to others and really enjoys learning and connecting with stakeholders across the value chain, which is a critical aspect of his role at IMAGINE. He encouraged the Rising Leaders to truly understand their organization’s strategy and figure out a way to uniquely contribute to it.

AmCham thanks Pablo for his willingness to share his personal experience with the group and Yara for their hospitality.

Speaker

Pablo Barrera Lopez - Yara International

About the Rising Leaders Program

Rising Leaders, a joint AmCham-US Embassy initiative, brings together entrepreneurs, young professionals, and student leaders in an innovative program that promotes diversity and connects promising talent. Through the program, participants engage international business leaders, learn about AmCham member companies, explore careers, and gain business and leadership skills.

The 2021-2022 Rising Leaders class – comprised of 18 women and 10 men between the ages of 22 and 35 – bring with them experience from healthcare, classical music, urban planning, organizational psychology, immigration, engineering, communications, technology, teaching, economics, finance, and marketing. All 28 program participants have demonstrated leadership, entrepreneurial, and/or business excellence in their educational pursuits and careers thus far.

For more information about the program, or to learn how your organization can get involved, please contact Madeleine Brekke.

Past Rising Leader Events

Rising Leaders: Core Values and Coincidences

Rising Leaders participants visited Accenture Norway’s headquarters where they were welcomed by Managing Director and Head of Accenture Technology, Torbjørn Eik-Nes. As the first in-person company visit in many months since the pandemic, participants were eager to absorb Eik-Nes’ career insights and professional guidance.

Read More »

Rising Leaders: Never-Ending Missions

Rising Leaders participants and AmCham members were joined by Lars Erik Grønntun, Chief Operating Officer (COO) and Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) at Kahoot! who shared his leadership experience and thoughts on building highly innovative yet resilient teams.

Read More »

Business Advancements in Focus: Executive AI Training Course

Business Advancements in Focus: Executive AI Training Course

AmCham staff and members participated in a two-part Executive Training course on Artificial intelligence (AI) provided by Simula Learning during April.

The course was developed for business executives with limited technical experience to familiarize themselves with the terminology and concepts of AI.

Day 1 focused on introducing participants to Artificial Intelligence with basic definitions, including data sources and methods, as well as defining machine learning and a general understanding of neural networks. Participants were then given the opportunity to teach a self-driving robot to avoid falling off a table. 

Day 2 focused on use cases of AI, machine learning techniques, privacy and ethics around AI, implementation for respective industries as well as opportunities and limitations for the future of AI. Participants worked in groups to design an AI system for an education use case. Looking at future technology the session covered several fascinating projects in natural language processing, coding, and image generation.

The class was taught by PhD-candidate Hanna Borgli and Associate Professor Håkon Kvale Stensland from Simula.

To see what other executive courses are available through Simula Learning visit: https://www.simulalearning.no/for-bedrifter

Rising Leaders: Core Values and Coincidences

Rising Leaders: Core Values and Coincidences

Rising Leaders participants visited Accenture Norway’s headquarters where they were welcomed by Managing Director and Head of Accenture Technology, Torbjørn Eik-Nes. As the first in-person company visit in many months since the pandemic, participants were eager to absorb Eik-Nes’ career insights and professional guidance.

After a quick overview of Accenture facts and figures, Eik-Nes shared his personal career journey within Accenture. His original plan was not working in a corporate setting, but rather playing professional soccer.

Eik-Nes holds a Master of Science in Energy Management from BI Norwegian Business School and has particularly good memories from studies at UC Berkley. San Francisco is close to Torbjørn’s heart, and he considers it his second home. After his studies, he came across an article about Accenture by coincidence, which ultimately led him to the company. “My career started with a lot of coincidences – as I am sure will be the case in yours as well.”

Accenture’s core values and culture have fundamentally remained unchanged since he started in 1996 and are a key reason for why Eik-Nes has stayed at the company for the past 25 years. His various roles within the company provided him new opportunities to learn, be challenged and grow, giving him the feeling of having “new jobs many times, moving to completely different industries with new people and leadership within Accenture.” He did, however, stress that being promoted is not a source of happiness in and of itself, emphasizing that participants should focus on enjoying their work while maintaining a good measure of patience.

Participants posed some quite challenging questions on topics such as work-life balance and diversity, leaving him with “valuable areas to reflect upon.” AmCham would like to thank Eik-Nes for his willingness to share his personal journey with the group and the Accenture team for their hospitality.

Torbjørn Eik-Nes

Accenture
accenture.com

About the Rising Leaders Program

Rising Leaders, a joint AmCham-US Embassy initiative, brings together entrepreneurs, young professionals, and student leaders in an innovative program that promotes diversity and connects promising talent. Through the program, participants engage international business leaders, learn about AmCham member companies, explore careers, and gain business and leadership skills.

The 2021-2022 Rising Leaders class – comprised of 18 women and 10 men between the ages of 22 and 35 – bring with them experience from healthcare, classical music, urban planning, organizational psychology, immigration, engineering, communications, technology, teaching, economics, finance, and marketing. All 28 program participants have demonstrated leadership, entrepreneurial, and/or business excellence in their educational pursuits and careers thus far.

For more information about the program, or to learn how your organization can get involved, please contact Madeleine Brekke.

Past Rising Leader Events

Rising Leaders: Core Values and Coincidences

Rising Leaders participants visited Accenture Norway’s headquarters where they were welcomed by Managing Director and Head of Accenture Technology, Torbjørn Eik-Nes. As the first in-person company visit in many months since the pandemic, participants were eager to absorb Eik-Nes’ career insights and professional guidance.

Read More »

Rising Leaders: Never-Ending Missions

Rising Leaders participants and AmCham members were joined by Lars Erik Grønntun, Chief Operating Officer (COO) and Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) at Kahoot! who shared his leadership experience and thoughts on building highly innovative yet resilient teams.

Read More »

AmCham Financial Forum: Bitcoin for Business and the CFO’s Role in Resilience

AmCham Financial Forum: Bitcoin for Business and the CFO’s Role in Resilience

Presenters

Leaders from AIGAmerican Express, Amgen, Badenoch + Clark, BI Norwegian Business School, Citi, Gard, Helly Hansen, Interimleder, KPMGKvamme AssociatesSparebank1, Raise Gruppen (IC Scandinavia), and Rud Pedersen gathered in person and virtually at AmCham Norway’s downtown offices for our quarterly Financial Forum.

Magnus Jones, Nordic Blockchain & Innovation Lead at EY Tax & Law, led with “money equals trust, and without trust there is no value.” The same holds true for cryptocurrency, as Jones illustrated with Dogecoin – both before and after Elon Musk tweeted about it. However, money also equals politics and there has been an intense push for sound regulatory frameworks to be set.

After providing a high-level overview of bitcoin and cryptocurrency and what needs to be understood as it relates to businesses, Jones urged financial leaders not to rush, but to prepare for where their organizations will inevitably be heading. “All companies will touch bitcoin going forward. All major central banks are evaluating crypto.”

Jones also shared expert insights on the demographics of bitcoin users, the convenience of use, traceability, criminal activity, energy use and how companies can best prepare themselves (including within the Metaverse). Jones illustrated examples of how EY has assisted several transatlantic companies within the crypto industry. 

Magnus Jones – Nordic Blockchain & Innovation Lead

Dennis Larsen – Managing Partner

Sustainability as a Business Model

Reputation Inc Managing Partner Dennis Larsen spoke on the CFO’s role within sustainability, from reporting to financial resilience. He clearly explained how the CFO should be firmly involved in the purpose of the organization, protecting brand value and reputation as a company’s most valuable business assets. “The one that holds the purse strings is the one who influences the priority.”

Reputation Inc assists organizations in successfully navigating reputational opportunities and challenges, while leveraging purposeful actions that make a material difference, winning trust, respect, and admiration from stakeholders. Although reputation dynamics are unique to each organization, two key drivers are sustainability and culture, according to Larsen.

In many cases, sustainability leads report to corporate communications departments, when they should be directly linked to CFO’s. For their part, “CFO’s should act as sustainability strategists, accelerators, stewards and analysts.”

Larsen shared multiple transformational examples, including from Unilever, Heineken, BlackRock and Novartis, with the latter embedding trust into their KPI’s to become the most trusted pharma company. As Larsen put it, “it is not a sustainability model, it is a business model.”

About the AmCham Financial Forum

The AmCham Financial Forum is a platform that gives financial leaders from AmCham’s member companies the opportunity to interact, share best practices, and learn from each other – building a better understanding of what it takes to run a successful international finance department in Norway. For interest in participating, please contact Madeleine.Brekke@amcham.no

AmCham Financial Forum: IPO Frenzy and Transparent Compensation

Leaders gathered at KPMG Norway’s downtown offices for AmCham’s quarterly Financial Forum. Reflecting on his own observations over the past years’ “Norwegian IPO Frenzy,” our forum was kicked off by Geir Bjørlo, Partner at Corporate Communications. With 100 listings since 2020, the pace has now slowed to only a handful due to current uncertainty.

Read More »

AmCham Mentorship Program Wrap-up & Next Edition!

AmCham Mentorship Program: 2021-2022 Season Wrap-up & Next Edition!

The 2021-2022 edition of the AmCham Mentorship Program convened for its final meeting in February. Presenting were Hydro’s Vice President of People, Communications and Sustainability, Erika Ahlqvist sharing her comparative leadership experiences working in the Nordics and the US, and Hudson Nordic’s CEO and Managing Director, Ola Lenes, who highlighted effective strategies for building and managing future mentorship relationships. Participants shared learnings and reflections gained from their respective mentee/mentor relations over the past nine months.

Erika Ahlqvist

Vice President of People, Communications and Sustainability

hydro_logo_vertical_aluminium

Ola Lenes

CEO and Managing Director

hudson logo

The sixth edition of the popular AmCham program included a record-breaking 74 participants from over 25 member companies and eight industries. It was kicked off virtually in April 2021 with Mentorship insights and tips from Tine Austvoll Jensen, Country Manager of Google Norway.

Program participants met with Yara’s President and CEO, Svein Tore Holsether, who shared his leadership experience before, during and after crisis. They also attended leadership presentations by Thommessen Managing Partner Sverre Tyrhaug and Mirha Sunagic, Associate Professor at USN School of Business.

All participants were paired across industries, based upon their personal interests and goals, to facilitate leadership dialogue, share best practices, and learn from one another through the nine-month curriculum. Throughout the program, one-on-one sessions focused on networking with intent, team leadership, communication skills, reverse mentoring, workplace motivation, and conflict resolution.

 

A New Season – Register Now!

With many of this season’s mentors already committing to the ’22-23 Mentorship Program, we are excited to be underway with planning and preparing for the next cohort of mentors and mentees, with a kick-off planned for Q2 2022.

The AmCham Mentorship Program offers a venue for delving more deeply into this mental exercise by offering both a sparring partner and thought-provoking group sessions. Mentors will select talented and aspiring colleagues from within their own companies to participate as mentees. Program participants will then be paired by AmCham across industries to facilitate the nine-month leadership dialogue.  

The Mentorship program is available to Patron-level members of AmCham Norway. For further information and interest in the program, please contact Margrethe.Harboe@amcham.no.

About the AmCham Mentorship Program

With its unique cross-industry orientation and global approach, the AmCham Mentorship Program offers a dynamic, internationally minded arena for leadership development.

The program pairs emerging corporate talent with seasoned executives from AmCham Patron-level member companies. The result: a collaborative arena that fosters improvement and reflection, prepares young leaders for the challenges of the international marketplace, and forges bonds between AmCham member companies.

Past Mentorship Program Events

AmCham Mentorship Program Wrap-up & Next Edition!

The 2021-2022 edition of the AmCham Mentorship Program convened for its final meeting in February. Presenting were Hydro’s Vice President of People, Communications and Sustainability, Erika Ahlqvist and Hudson Nordic’s CEO and Managing Director, Ola Lenes.

Read More »

Rising Leaders: Never-Ending Missions

Rising Leaders: Never-Ending Missions

Rising Leaders participants and AmCham members were joined by Lars Erik Grønntun, Chief Operating Officer (COO) and Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) at Kahoot! who shared his leadership experience and thoughts on building highly innovative yet resilient teams.

Grønntun walked participants through pivotal career choices that led him to his current role with the leading global learning platform – from getting involved in politics at a young age, taking a risk by starting his own agency at age 23, and hosting a TV-program, to becoming head of Hill+Knowlton Strategies.

Leaving his role as Global President for Hill+Knowlton Strategies, a leading global communications consultancy, to join the EdTech company Kahoot! in 2020 was a significant shift, nurturing Grønntun’s entrepreneurial spirit.

In his new role as COO of Kahoot!, Grønntun contributed to the revision and development of the organizational structure, while maintaining dynamic teams. Kahoot! was growing exponentially already before 2020, but the pandemic contributed to a significant shift in daily habits.  Schools, businesses and friends turned to virtual tools to interact and learn remotely, with Kahoot!’s organizational structure becoming a key and never-ending mission.

“The rockstars or engine room of Kahoot! are the engineers and product teams. Corporate is there as support.” Grønntun would describe his leadership style as contextual, saying “if people know where you are going and where the goal is, they will know how best to contribute to get there. Smart people don’t like to be bullied around.”

Lars Erik Grønntun

COO & CMO

“Kahoot! is a global company, it just happens to be from Norway.”

Lars Erik Grønntun

According to Interbrand, Kahoot!’s Global Brand Strength Score is comparable to long-established global brands such as Nintendo, YouTube and Sony, making it one of Norway’s biggest brands. Today, 97% of Fortune 500 companies are using Kahoot to engage and train employees. In the past years, Kahoot! has acquired seven companies, including US-based Clever, a foundation from which Kahoot! will expand its K-12 tech-app to the international market.

When asked who he looks up to, Grønntun told Rising Leaders that rather than having specific mentors, he identifies admirable qualities in people he works with, such Eilert Hanoa, Kahoot!’s CEO, who “has an incredible work ethic and stamina – and must be cut from a different type of metal.”

To those embarking on their careers, Grønntun emphasized the value of staying within an organization, rather than shifting  employment for the sake of change, as a long-term presence allows you to build networks, understand the culture and accumulate knowledge that, in turn, can be capitalized upon over time.

Photo: Gambit

About the Rising Leaders Program

Rising Leaders, a joint AmCham-US Embassy initiative, brings together entrepreneurs, young professionals, and student leaders in an innovative program that promotes diversity and connects promising talent. Through the program, participants engage international business leaders, learn about AmCham member companies, explore careers, and gain business and leadership skills.

The 2021-2022 Rising Leaders class – comprised of 18 women and 10 men between the ages of 22 and 35 – bring with them experience from healthcare, classical music, urban planning, organizational psychology, immigration, engineering, communications, technology, teaching, economics, finance, and marketing. All 28 program participants have demonstrated leadership, entrepreneurial, and/or business excellence in their educational pursuits and careers thus far.

For more information about the program, or to learn how your organization can get involved, please contact Madeleine Brekke.

Rising Leaders: Core Values and Coincidences

Rising Leaders participants visited Accenture Norway’s headquarters where they were welcomed by Managing Director and Head of Accenture Technology, Torbjørn Eik-Nes. As the first in-person company visit in many months since the pandemic, participants were eager to absorb Eik-Nes’ career insights and professional guidance.

Read More »

Rising Leaders: Never-Ending Missions

Rising Leaders participants and AmCham members were joined by Lars Erik Grønntun, Chief Operating Officer (COO) and Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) at Kahoot! who shared his leadership experience and thoughts on building highly innovative yet resilient teams.

Read More »

Hydro included in Fortune’s 2022 World’s Most Admired Companies list

Hydro, an AmCham Norway Member, claims a place among the world’s most admired companies as one of only three companies from Scandinavia.

“This is a great recognition of the work that is being done by our people around the globe. I am also impressed that we are one of only three Scandinavian companies on the list,” says Hilde Merete Aasheim, Hydro President & CEO.

Fortune’s World’s Most Admired Companies is based on a survey that covers a range of criteria, including investment value, quality of management and products, social responsibility and ability to retain talent. 

Hydro is the only Norwegian company included on the list and ranks number 5 among industry peers, along with metals companies such as Alcoa. The two other Scandinavian companies making the list are the Danish logistics company Maersk and Swedish car manufacturer Volvo.

Read more HERE

Hydro colleague in the technology pilot at Karmøy

Readout of President Biden’s Meeting with Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Store of Norway

President Biden, met with Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Store of Norway to reaffirm the importance of the US-Norway relationship.

The two discussed joint efforts, including through NATO and the OSCE, to address Russia’s destabilizing military buildup along Ukraine’s borders. They also discussed enhancing the U.S.-Norway partnership in tackling a range of challenges, including climate change, ending the COVID-19 pandemic and establishing sustainable health security financing, and humanitarian support for Afghanistan. President Biden thanked the Prime Minister for Norway’s leadership as President of the UN Security Council this month. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan also met separately with Prime Minister Store.

PortalOne raises $60M as it levels up to launch its hybrid, immersive gaming platform later this year

Gaming has been one of the most popular entertainment categories in the last two years of pandemic living. Now, a gaming startup that’s building a new kind of platform that it thinks will be a — wait for it — game changer in the category is announcing some funding as to ride that wave of attention.

PortalOne, which is building an immersive gaming platform that describes itself as hybrid in more ways than one — it mixes games with a game show/talk show format, and it’s designed to work across various devices from mobile through to consoles and VR headsets — has picked up $60 million. The startup — based in Oslo but with a significant presence also in Los Angeles — plans to use the funding to continue building out its platform and operations en route to its first commercial launch: PortalOne Arcade, a journey into a retro “arcade” featuring multiple games.

PortalOne Arcade has been running in a closed beta since last year, and the company is running a sign-up list for those interested to try it out, but what the team has built and its plans for the future are enough to be attracting some very big names.

Read full article HERE