Tag Archives: AmCham

2019 AGM & Transatlantic Business Assembly

2019 AGM & transatlantic Business Assembly

Event summary

Oslo’s new Hotel Amerikalinjen was host to AmCham Norway’s 2019 Annual General Meeting and Transatlantic Business Assembly, an afternoon that highlighted a strong year for AmCham, built the foundation for continued growth through 2019, and highlighted the challenges and opportunities of doing business in Norway.

ManpowerGroup’s Maalfrid Brath, Nasdaq’s Adam Kostyál, Roche Norway’s Rajji Mehdwan, Cisco’s Sandeep Mehra, and Member of Parliament Heidi Norby Lunde headlined the Transatlantic Business Assembly, sharing their insights through a series of keynote speeches and a highly engaging panel discussion.

The day concluded with a reception in Amerikalinjen’s stunning Haven courtyard, featuring lively conversation, American-inspired food, and a wide range of American wines.

AmCham’s 2019 Transatlantic Business Assembly: Growing Challenges – New Opportunities

Gustav, Amerikalinjen’s New York inspired jazz club, provided an intimate setting for this year’s assembly, with each of the five ranking speakers providing a short address for attendees.

Maalfrid Brath was first up, noting that while ManpowerGroup is indeed a US-parented company, its deep local roots make it feel Norwegian. Brath, Manpower’s Regional Director for the Nordics & Baltics, then highlighted the growing challenge of attracting top global talent to Norway. “We are in a world championship, not a Norwegian one,” she said as she discussed the importance of education and professional development.

Brath was succeeded by Nasdaq’s Stockholm-based Senior Vice President of Listing Services for Europe, Adam Kostyál. Kostyál highlighted Nasdaq’s ability to leverage its worldwide exchanges as platforms for Nordic SME growth, thus empowering Norway’s economic future.

Roche Norway General Manger and AmCham Board Member Rajji Mehdwan followed. Drawing parallels with another AmCham member, Mehdwan noted that, “Tesla’s mission is to save the planet – ours is to save patients’ lives.” Highlighting Roche’s industry-leading 20% of revenue spent on R&D, she then focused upon the importance of sustainable procurement, market access, and the growing need for healthcare companies to invest in technology.

Serving as a perfect segue to the next assembly speaker, Cisco’s Sandeep Mehra addressed the importance of talent and agility on the global marketplace, expanding on the importance of using technology to simplify global operations. He also touched on the high quality of talent in Norway and the productivity of the country’s workforce, calling Norway a “well-kept secret,” before stating proudly, “We build world class technologies here!”

Member of Parliament Heidi Nordby Lunde provided the final engaging keynote, rounding out with a unique, government perspective.

Nordby Lunde made a strong case for why international companies should invest in Norway despite its high cost of doing business. “If you want skilled workers, you want to invest in a country that invests in education,” she noted, highlighting Norway’s strong performance in global rankings and its commitment to talent development.

Keynote Speakers & Panelists

Maalfrid Brath

Regional Managing Director, Nordics & Baltics

Adam Kostyál

Senior Vice President of Listing Services, Europe

Rajji Mehdwan

Managing Director, Norway

Sandeep Mehra

Vice President & General Manager, Webex Devices & Telepresence

Heidi Nordby Lunde

Member of Parliament & Leader of Oslo Høyre

Panel Discussion

Presenting leaders then came together for a panel discussion moderated by AmCham Managing Director Jason Turflinger. The first question, “When you speak to headquarters about Norway, how easy or difficult is it to make the case for expanding your operations here?” kicked off a dynamic, highly engaging conversation.

“Headquarters thinks, ‘Why should we invest more in Norway when you see the way some politicians attack us, with increasingly harsh regulatory frameworks?’” responded one participant.

“It’s getting harder,” added another. “I fight very hard for investment to Norway. Historically we looked favorably upon Norway, but now – it’s getting challenging.”

The challenges Norway faced, according to the panel, were twofold.

Among the Nordics, panelists argued that Norway faces an uphill climb in comparison to its entrepreneurially minded neighbors, noting issues with market access and regulatory schemes, in addition to weak public-private partnerships.

Globally, panelists noted that the cost of doing business in Norway is increasingly becoming an issue. With countries such as China, India, and the Eastern European states combining increasingly well-educated, low-cost workforces with a willingness to offer companies significant incentives for investment, Norway will have to be more innovative in attracting foreign investment.

The tone, however, was generally quite optimistic.

One participant noted that when officials for the US Securities and Exchange Commission met with their corporate leadership, they asked, “Why are the Nordics so successful in terms of SMEs?”

Another highlighted that while Norway has a high cost of doing business, employees are two times as productive as in almost any other country. Productivity and innovation capacity, they argued, must factor into any cost-benefit analysis.

Touching on global political trends and increased political polarization in Norway, Heidi Nordby Lunde implored business leaders to engage politicians.

“Ask politicians to meet with you – we will come!,” she said, going on to note the particular importance of capitalizing on this fall’s municipal elections, “Make people aware of the value you create in this city and in this nation – that is really important.”

Charting a Course for Continued Growth: AmCham’s 2019 AGM

AmCham Annual General Meeting presentations from Chairman and Citi Norway Head Pål Rokke, Treasurer Michael Klem, and Managing Director Jason Turflinger highlighted a preceding year of multiple new initiates and laid out AmCham’s strategic goals for the coming months.

Turflinger also touched upon AmCham’s expanding range of member services as making the organization distinct among local business groups, focusing particularly on AmCham’s long-term advocacy work. As “the voice of international business,” Turflinger noted that AmCham Norway has developed the competence and capacity to respond to the expanding needs of its diverse membership.

Importantly, AmCham members approved the association’s 2019-2020 Board of Directors during the AGM, unanimously welcoming Marianne Aasen aboard, a Director at Simula School. Turflinger went on to express gratitude and appreciation to departing Board members Kathryn Baker, Lena Nymo Helli, and Sven Thaulow.

Marianne Aasen

New AmCham Board Memmber & Director of SSRI at Simula

Canapé Reception at Amerikalinjen's Haven

Dream Big California Wine Tasting

Grand Wine tasting

Event summary

DREAM BIG!

Held in the spacious Oslo Konserthus Glasshuset, AmCham, the US Commercial Service, and California Wine Institute hosted Norway’s largest-to-date American wine tasting on March 13.

Over 50 representatives from almost 100 wineries flew into Oslo for the event as part of their European tour with California Wine Institute. The wineries offered a selection of over 400 wines, ranging from everyday wines to once-in-a-lifetime vintages, to a diverse crowd of AmCham members, government officials, journalists, wine importers, and food and beverage industry representatives from across Norway.

Lodi Seminar

The afternoon kicked off with an exclusive seminar on the Lodi appellation, an area located between San Francisco Bay and the Sierra Nevada Mountains. The region has become known for its vast portfolio of interesting wines and the commitment of its winemakers to creative, cutting-edge, and sustainable winemaking techniques. The seminar was led by a panel of winemakers including Wine Enthusiast Magazine’s 2018 Winemaker of the Year, Adam Mettler, Oak Farm Vineyards’ and Harney Lane’s Chad Joseph, and the director of the Lodi Winegrape Commission, Stuart Spencer.

The fully subscribed seminar walked participants through eight wines including a 2017 Acquiesce Grenache Blanc, 2018 Klinker Brick Albariño, 2017 LangeTwins Family Winery & Vineyard Sangiovese Rosé, 2016 Turley Bechthold Vineyard Cinsault, 2016 Oak Farm Vineyards Grenache, 2016 Ironstone Rous Vineyard Zinfandel, as well as Adam Mettler’s own 2016 Michael-David Earthquake Zinfandel and Mettler Family Vineyards’ flagship 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon.

By the numbers

1
wine Producers
1
Different wines
1
Wineries new to norway

Grand Tasting

At the conclusion of the masterclass, guests streamed into Glasshuset’s second floor for the main event – the Grand Tasting! AmCham members joined food and wine industry representatives to mingle and sample wines with winemakers, brand ambassadors and sommeliers from across Norway and the United States. It was a record-setting year with 43 stands, more than 400 guests, and nearly 30 wineries presenting in Norway for the first time.

The tasting accurately represented California’s 89% share of American wine production, while still allowing guests to experience the different terroirs found in Oregon and Washington – the home state to a past winemaker of the year, and Norwegian favorite, Charles Smith.

US Wines on the Rise in Norway

American wine sales in Norway have increased considerably in the past two years, in part due to initiatives like these and the 2017 launch of US wines custom-made for the Norwegian market. In 2018, Vinmonopolet sold 3.6 million liters of American wine – a figure representing 5.3% of total wine sales in Norway and an increase of 4.5% from 2017.

AmCham sincerely thanks the US Commercial Service and California Wine Institute for their collaboration in making this event possible and the evening a roaring success!

wine 2 logo

Forum Summary: AmCham Sustainability Forum – February 2019

On February 26th, AmCham member representatives convened at McDonald’s downtown Oslo training center for this year’s first AmCham Sustainability Forum.

Combining a wide range of industries and backgrounds, forum participants engaged in a rapidly evolving discussion around the challenges and opportunities of sustainable operations in Norway, focusing particularly on regulatory complexities, innovation, and communications strategies.

More than just burgers and fries

When one thinks of
McDonald’s, thoughts naturally wander to the American classics that made the restaurant
a global household name. McDonald’s Hilde
Øverby
, however, made the case for adding another ingredient to the mix –
sustainability.

Noting the imminent release of McDonald’s Norway’s latest sustainability report, Øverby, Head of QA and CSR, started the forum off by discussing how McDonald’s has taken the environmental concerns of their customers and stakeholders to heart. The company has eagerly integrated sustainable practices across their substantial Norwegian and worldwide operations.

Øverby reminded participants, however, that sustainability is more than a buzzword and a growing array of quantifiable metrics. At its core, sustainability is about people.

As a reflection of their commitment to people, McDonald’s, the largest employer of youths in Norway, instituted their Grønn Utdanning Program in 2010. A partnership between McDonald’s, Felleskjøpet and Norges Bygdeungdomslag, the program encourages young Norwegians to seek careers in agriculture.

The systematic, long-term management and coordination of environmental, social, and economic principles to ensure responsible, ethical, and lasting business success.

Corporate sustainability as defined by AmCham Norway’s cross-industry Sustainability Forum.

Regulatory Cohesion and Predictability in Norway

After the
presentation from McDonald’s, forum participants launched into a discussion on
the challenges associated with leveraging sustainable practices into
sustainable brands – brands that resonate with the environmental concerns of
consumers and politicians.

The importance of
transparency in creating authentic public engagement was a primary focus in the
discussion on member company best practices, particularly the use of social
media in generating awareness around technological advancements and company
initiatives.

The conversation
then turned to common challenges in Norway. “Norway is sleeping, they want a lot
but they do not have the infrastructure to implement it,” said one participant,
referencing public official knowledge of industry-specific sustainable
technology. This sentiment quickly became a common thread throughout the
remainder of the discussion – participants agreed that the lack of regulatory
cohesion and predictability throughout municipalities in Norway had created
confusion among both consumers and politicians, in addition to making it
difficult to develop scalable, long-term sustainable strategies.

As a solution to this information asymmetry, participants concurred that more opportunities for interdisciplinary and cross-industry discussions between stakeholders – ideally creating a dialogue that can be utilized in the development of new regulatory regimes – are needed.

This forum included participants from BI Norwegian Business School, Circle K, Coca-Cola, Interimleder, McDonald’s, Mondelez, Orkla, Philip Morris International, Roche, Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines, Scandic, and Starbucks.

About

Many AmCham companies have been on the sustainability journey for some time, while others are trying to find their way to a sustainable future. Though our members are represented through the full specter, we know that several are at the forefront within their respective industries.

Hence, AmCham brings select, cross-industry member company
representatives together on a quarterly basis to discuss opportunities, share
best practices and find out how AmCham members can play a role in the Norwegian
sustainability agenda going forward. Please contact
us
for interest in future forums.

Forum Summary: AmCham CFO Forum – February 2019

The second edition of AmCham’s CFO Forum brought international, cross-industry financial leaders together at IBM’s Oslo Client Center to discuss the concept of “The CFO of the Future.”

With participants from Discovery Networks Norway, Fast Solutions, Gelato, IBM, KPMG, Stanley Security, Pfizer, Arntzen de Besche Advokatfirma, BI Norwegian Business School, Microsoft and Roche in attendance, IBM Global Business Services’ Karina Bjørnarøy kicked off the forum by introducing the concept of Enterprise Design Thinking.

Using this comprehensive framework geared to solve users’ problems “at the speed and scale of the modern digital enterprise,” attendees completed a series of workshop exercises to design the CFO of the future by modelling the CFO of today – reflecting on their own career experiences and bonding over common challenges in the process.

A central takeaway was the human element of the CFO profession. As one attendee noted, “Reports don’t create results, it’s what people do with them.” From driving employee engagement, to developing accountability structures, to understanding how to better cast the CFO as a strategic partner, participants were immersed in discussion as they came up with “bold ideas” to improve the day-to-day work life of their imagined CFO.

The forum was highly engaging, and participants welcomed the opportunity to connect with their peers over what it means to be a CFO in today’s rapidly changing business environment – a topic we will delve further into during our Q2 meeting.

AmCham would like to thank the entire team at IBM Norway for hosting and facilitating this instalment of our CFO Forum.

About the CFO Forum

The AmCham CFO Forum is a platform that gives financial leaders 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 in the process. Our next CFO Forum is in the works for Q2. For interest in participating, please contact us.

Event Summary: Thanksgiving Charity Dinner 2018

It was an evening of thanks, turkey, high spirits and charity as AmCham hosted our traditional Thanksgiving Dinner at Grand Hotel, where guests helped raise a record NOK 91.000 for this year’s charity partner – The Ocean Cleanup.

Thanksgiving Charity Dinner 2018

Sponsored by ExxonMobil, Biogen and Hydro, the evening included an authentic American Thanksgiving meal, prepared by the renowned Grand kitchen in collaboration with Stavanger’s legendary Chef Craig Whitson. Whole stuffed turkeys, glazed ham, sweet potatoes, and assorted American pies were accompanied by Fetzer Flatbed Red Blend and Bonterra Chardonnay from California.

Working Together

In his Thanksgiving address, Minister of Trade & Industry, Torbjørn Røe Isaksen, touched upon some of the key reasons why both Norway and the US can be grateful for an excellent relationship.

Thanksgiving Charity Dinner 2018

Trade Minister, Torbjørn Røe Isaksen (Photo: Nancy Bundt)

“We are friends, trading partners and close allies – working together to create jobs and promote common values. We have just conducted Trident Juncture – the largest NATO exercise for many years – and proven our ability to operate together and stand up for each other.”

“According to a report presented last year, Norwegian companies and investments are supporting nearly half a million jobs in the US. Equally, from ExxonMobil and ConocoPhillips to Accenture, Alcoa, Coca-Cola, Cargill, Bristow Norway, Mondelez, McDonald’s and 650 others, the US is a major contributor to jobs, welfare and happiness here,” the Minister said.

A Culture of Sharing

Fittingly headquartered in Massachusetts — where Thanksgiving is rooted — dinner partner Biogen is a neuroscience pioneer, with an ambition to cure Alzheimer’s disease. Speaking just after the Minister, Country Director Kristin Nyberg noted the importance of good health and collaboration during her dinner address.

“An interesting topic in that respect is looking into how the US and Norway can cooperate in the best way to find success in health and innovation. As an inspiration, we can look to the unique collaborative environment in Boston.”

Thanksgiving Charity Dinner 2018

Kristin Nyberg, Biogen (Photo: Nancy Bundt)

“There, our headquarters is on the same street as MIT, Harvard and several biotech companies. The researchers there have breakfast with students, lunch with CEOs and dinner with investors.”

“That is the key to success for all parties – and we should adapt that as quickly as we can here; a triangle of academia, healthcare professionals and investors.”

“Let’s work for such an environment to thrive within the new Life Science building at the University of Oslo, and we will make Norway an even better place to do business in the future,” Nyberg said.

Charity Raffle & Auction

Following dinner and Thanksgiving reflections by US Ambassador Kenneth J. Braithwaite, guests gathered for a lively charity raffle and auction, stocked with spectacular prizes donated by AmCham member companies.

Among the many winners, guests took home a large aluminum print by Pål Laukli courtesy of Featuring Spaces, an Icelandair gift certificate, an exclusive 1984 Prince photograph by Nancy Bundt, a Tesla-weekend and an all-inclusive VIP stay at Grand Hotel.

Thanksgiving Charity Dinner 2018

(Photo: Nancy Bundt)

With NOK 91.000 generated for further development of The Ocean Cleanup technologies, AmCham extends heartfelt thanks to all who so generously contributed!

View Fullscreen

Event Summary: Annual General Meeting and Transatlantic Assembly

Foreign Minister Børge Brende opened for a tailor-made panel to discuss transitions and transatlantic changes and challenges, as AmCham hosted a combined Annual General Meeting and Transatlantic Assembly, nominating and selecting a new Board of Directors in the process.

Foreign Minister, Børge Brende speaking to AmCham Members at our Annual General Meeting and Transatlantic Assembly

The AGM also served to review AmCham’s activities and accomplishments for the previous year, and projected plans for the year ahead.

The new AmCham Board, composed of executive member company leaders, features 13 representatives and includes ten Norwegians, one Swede and two Americans, representing nine Patrons, two Corporates and one Associate-level member.

AmCham Board at Annual General Meeting and Transatlantic Assembly

As Per Hynne of Coca-Cola, Elizabeth Jeffords of Roche and Ketil Nordengen from 3M enter the board, AmCham would like to extend our sincere appreciation and gratitude to Tim Keane, Stein Rømmerud, Kimberly Lein-Mathisen and Lauren Cody as they step down, with Keane and Rømmerud having served for nine and eight years respectively!

Transatlantic Assembly

Following the AGM, AmCham Chairman Pål Rokke and University of Oslo Rector Ole Petter Ottersen proudly welcomed Minister of Foreign Affairs Børge Brende who, after recently returning from the US, kicked off the 90-minute session, sponsored by AmCham members Yara and BDO. On the agenda was transatlantic challenges and opportunities, examining why transition is at the forefront of AmCham member agendas.

Minister Brende, who is the first Nordic minister to have met with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, and first European minister to meet with US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, said both highlighted the strategic alliance Norway holds with the US.

“It is clear from these meetings that increased emphasis will be place upon bilateral trade relationships as opposed to multilateral,” stated Brende. According to Secretary Ross, “TTIP is being assessed, not dropped” by the new US administration.

Brende, who emphasized that cooperation with the new US administration is developing very well, could confirm that both Secretary Tillerson and Secretary of Defence James Mathis had both personally underlined the US’ continued commitment to NATO.

Foreign Minister, Børge Brende at Annual General Meeting and Transatlantic Assembly

Foreign Minister, Børge Brende

The minister also highlighted how the close connection between the US and Norway is due in part to similar cultures, values and ideas. “Big changes also mean big opportunities. That’s a very typical American way of thinking and something we’re adopting in Norway as well.”

“We share many of the same ideas. We have the same values, we are both strong supporters of democratic principles and we support private ownership,” the Minister said.

The Foreign Minister was succeeded by US Chargé d’Affaires Jim DeHart, who later joined DNB’s new Chief Economist Kjersti Haugland, Andrew Lloyd, Statoil’s Vice President for Global Politics & Public Affairs and IBM’s Managing Director Arne Norheim, in a panel discussion focused on emerging trends and challenges affecting business between the two countries.

Arne Norheim, Kjersti Haugland, Andrew Lloyd and Jim DeHart at Annual General Meeting and Transatlantic Assembly

Arne Norheim, Kjersti Haugland, Andrew Lloyd and Jim DeHart

Chargé DeHart provided candid perspectives on the new US administration’s transition, current US foreign policy challenges and the road ahead for US-Norway relations.

“Norway is a popular destination for US officials,” stated DeHart, while discussing the recent bipartisan visit by Speaker Paul Ryan and the House Armed Services Committee.

Jim DeHart at Annual General Meeting and Transatlantic Assembly

US Chargé d’Affaires Jim DeHart

DNB’s Kjersti Haugland, while referencing headwinds due to energy challenges, noted that Norway’s GDP growth was in fact even stronger than that of the US, with stable fiscal policy and unemployment figures. This despite the growing “toxic cocktail” of increased protectionism, nationalism and populism in international trade relations.

For his part, IBM director Arne Norheim noted that his company’s successful 80-year track record in Norway had not been impacted by recent political change.

“Digital transformation and attracting and developing the best talent” are at the top of his ambitious agenda, regardless of daily political soundbites.

Statoil’s Andrew Lloyd emphasized how his company’s $30B in US investment – and positon as a top CCS investor there – was not being reassessed. Lloyd also optimistically discussed long-term NCS development, while noting that “smart companies will continue to invest in low-carbon technologies” regardless of short-term policy pivots.