Tag Archives: Yara

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.


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 Afterwork with PortalOne

For the last afterwork of 2022 and the program finale, Rising Leaders participants and AmCham members had the opportunity to visit hybrid gaming company and Norwegian unicorn, PortalOne’s brand new offices at Aker Brygge.

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Yara Mentorship Meeting

AmCham Mentorship Program: Crisis Leadership and the New Role of Business

AmCham Mentorship Program: Crisis Leadership and the New Role of Business

Emerging corporate talent and seasoned executives from 12 industries gathered on August 23rd to meet with President and CEO of Yara International, Svein Tore Holsether. Proving to be an uplifting and endless treasure trove of information, the discussion centered around a particularly timely topic – leadership before, during, and after a crisis.

Initially established in 1905 as Norsk Hydro, Yara was the world’s first producer of mineral nitrogen fertilizers –a disruptive technology at the time. Their intent was to increase food production to satiate the growing population and combat famine. A study in crisis response and innovation, the company grew to 13 000 employees in over 50 countries, decoupling from Hydro into Yara International in 2004.

Holsether joined as the CEO of Yara in 2015, allowing him to witness first-hand the Paris Agreement, discuss globally the important role of food production in combating climate change, and ultimately catalyze an internally driven redefinition of their mission statement: Responsibly Feed the World and Protect the Planet.

“I am ready to challenge any company out there in the world on our employees' ability to say what the mission is."

Respect and Trust

The ability to explain every accident experienced by the company in the last year (80% lower than the average comparable organization, Holsether comments proudly), from memory, is a respect Holsether asserts he owes to all employees. This respect and sense of responsibility seem to radiate through the organization, being echoed by the strong culture of safety, and employee’s recognition of the gravity of their products in the global marketplace.


Svein Tore Holsether

From the first reports of the Covid virus in Wuhan, where Yara operates, to the vast shutdowns in Italy, program participants were guided through the sense of urgency and uncertainty that permeated the Yara offices. “We fully understood the potential magnitude of this, and how essential our products are to farmers. If our products do not get to the farmer, yields drop. In the case of wheat, by 50%,” Holsether commented, “our organization felt the pressures of surviving a health pandemic and responsibility of preventing a hunger pandemic.”

Knowing immediately the importance of maintaining operational control and protecting the health of employees, the Yara management team pulled together a panel of their most experienced operators. Leaning away from the traditional reaction of setting in place massive reporting structures and strict demands, Holsether asserts that his team knew they could rely on their colleagues globally because of three primary characteristics: a strong sense of mission, an unflappable safety program, and solid company culture.

Holsether noted that when he approached the board to tell them of their decision to give full regional control, they received full support. He empowered the organization to make decisions regionally, and prescribed three priorities:

  1. Look after the health and safety of Yara’s employees and contractors
  2. Support local governments in limiting the spread of the virus
  3. Get the product produced and out to the customers

Loyalty and Lasting Change

When the production numbers started rolling in, the company knew they had made the right decision. Regionally, teams were fighting for their rights to produce, meeting their goals, and ensuring that farmers globally were receiving their products. With this feedback, and knowing that the pandemic would be lasting, Holsether and his team set to work on how to reduce fear in their organization, and thereby allow for deeper focus. Yara put into place income security for all employees and contractors globally, in the case they should need to shut down. They initiated sick pay in areas with no formal regulation, and later, global parental paid leave.

“These past 18 months have been life changing for many of us and it has definitely, for me as a CEO, changed the way I lead the company and my productivity.”

The past 18 months, the urgency, the reduction in travel, the need for regional understanding, has all impacted Holsether as a leader and brought him closer to Yara as a whole. Taking this time to connect with employees, he has made himself available by email and through town halls, answering every email he receives. His respect for, and dedication to, the mission of the company, the role of the employee, and the importance of global responsibility shone through in every aspect of his presentation.

Svein Tore recently accepted a new for as the president of NHO, a role that requires much dedication, which has left a lot of people wondering how on earth he has the time to allocate. His response to that is “how do I not have time?”. He suggested that participants reflect on how much time they spend on internal communication versus external communication. “It is about collaboration and SDG goal # 17: Cooperation and Partnership. That is where NHO comes in. “

Achieving goals with farmers is only possible if their retailers help set the agenda on how the food is grown – ensuring farmer livelihood and a healthy climate.

“Business will not prosper in a society that does not prosper."

Leaving mentees with lasting and thought-provoking advice, Holsether highlighted how participants can choose work sustainably. “Do something that gives energy rather than extracts energy – it’s the only way for work to be sustainable.”

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.

If you are interested in participating in the mentorship program, please contact Madeleine Brekke at madeleine.brekke@amcham.no for more information.

Past Mentorship Program Events

Pressemelding: Yara og IBM samarbeider om fremtidens landbruk

Oslo, Norge og Armonk, N.Y., 26. april, 2019: Yara International (OSE: YAR), et ledende globalt gjødselselskap, og IBM (NYSE: IBM), kunngjorde i dag en avtale om å bygge en global digital landbruksplattform, og å tilby helhetlige digitale tjenester og agronomisk rådgivning.

De to selskapene vil sammen bidra til å øke den globale matproduksjonen ved å trekke på sine komplementære evner: Yaras agronomiske kunnskap med over 800 agronomer på bakken og mer enn hundre års erfaring, og IBMs digitale plattformer, tjenester og kompetanse innen kunstig intelligens (AI) og dataanalyse.

«Vårt samarbeid dreier seg om å gjøre en reell forskjell i landbruket. For å kunne brødfø en voksende befolkning på en ansvarlig måte, er det avgjørende at bønder øker matproduksjonen på eksisterende jordbruksområder, slik at man unngår avskoging. Yara og IBM skal utvikle digitale løsninger som gir store og små bønder muligheten til å øke avlinger, kvalitet og inntekter på en bærekraftig måte,» sier Terje Knutsen, Konserndirektør for Salg og Markedsføring i Yara.

Den felles globale digitale landbruksplattformen vil anvende kunstig intelligens, maskinlæring og datainnsamling for å gi ny innsikt til bøndene. Den digitale plattformen vil være tilgjengelig over hele verden med en ambisjon om å dekke 100 millioner hektar jordbruksareal – noe som tilsvarer to ganger størrelsen på Spania eller nær 7 prosent av alle jordbruksarealer i hele verden*, inkludert millioner av småbruk.

«Ettersom etterspørselen etter mat stiger i takt med befolkningsøkningen i verden, vil den digitale landbruksplattformen spille en viktig rolle for å øke verdens avlinger på en bærekraftig måte. IBMs kapasitet og ekspertise innenfor AI, big data og blokkjede-teknologi, sammen med Yaras agronomiske kunnskap, digitale innovasjonskraft og globale erfaring innenfor landbruk, er en perfekt kombinasjon i partnerskapet vårt,» sier Luq Niazi, Global Managing Director for Consumer Industries i IBM.

Som et første skritt vil Yara og IBM etablere felles innovasjonsgrupper i digitale hubs i Europa, Singapore, USA og Brasil. Teamene skal samarbeide tett med IBM-forskere for å utvikle nye tjenester, for eksempel innen visuell analyse og maskininnlæringsteknikker for å identifisere og sjekke avlinger. De første tjenestene er planlagt levert i slutten av 2019.

Flytter grensene for digitalt jordbruk

Partnerskapet mellom Yara/IBM vil ta for seg alle aspekter ved jordbruksoptimering. Et spesifikt samarbeidsområde vil være værdata. Evnen til å reagere på væromslag er avgjørende for landbruk. Ved å slå sammen analytisk innsikt fra IBMs Watson Studio, IBM PAIRS-teknologien, The Weather Company og andre tjenester, med Yaras kunnskap om avlinger og modellering, vil den felles plattformen ikke bare muliggjøre hyperlokaliserte værmeldinger, men også kunne gi anbefalinger i sanntid, skreddersydd for hver enkelt åker og avling.

Når den felles digitale landbruksplattformen utvides, vil gruppene utforske løsninger for å integrere plattformen med IBM Food Trust, IBMs blokkjedebaserte nettverk for aktører i hele matkjeden. Dette vil muliggjøre større sporbarhet og effektivitet, samt gi nye verktøy for å bekjempe matsvindel, redusere svinn og øke bærekraft. Det vil knytte enkeltgårder sammen med hele matkjeden, og skape en helhetlig tilnærming til matproduksjon fra gård til tallerken.

Kontrakten ble inngått i april 2019.

* Verdensbanken, FAO.

Klikk HER for å lese hele pressemeldingen.

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.