Translated: “Shaping her own future”
“-We have to show that we´re no less than the previous generations, says this year´s moderator at the Haugesund conference, Birgit Liodden. The former Secretary general of YoungShip International calls for young entrepreneurs who dare to challenge the established.”
– What did you find most interesting at the conference? – There are several things, but I definitely think the presentation made by Walter Qvam, President of the Kongsberg Group, was outstanding. In particular his challenge to the audience, encouraging us to keep two thoughts in our heads at the same time. We have to succeed at what we´re doing here and now, but we cannot close our eyes to the fact that we might miss huge opportunities as the world changes rapidly. He threw out an important reminder on how quickly dominating market players can completely loose their position if failing to stay humble enough towards their surroundings.
– What about the Ministers´ efforts? – I had perhaps hoped for a few leaks from the Minister of Trade & Fishery, Monica Mæland, but she kept her lips sealed.
– Which leaks? – Something about the content/details in the government´s maritime strategy, as our entire industry is waiting for. We have had some really exciting dialogue meetings gathering loads of valuable input from the industry, and I am curious to see whether they manage to transform good intentions into hard priorities and actual capabilities. That is something the government has talked a lot about, and our industry truly needs that they take action where they have promised to.
– Couldn´t the Minister of Finance, Siv Jensen, reply to any of this? – She didn´t share too much information either. The audience´s clear message was that they are curious to see which actual (financial or regulatory) instruments will follow in the pipeline, and whether change will actually take place. As an example, there is a full agreement across all parties that more cargo needs to shift from wheel to keel, but they haven´t managed to create this shift, and to some extent change has even gone in the wrong direction. An important aspect in this, is that we are talking about so much more than shipping – this is national infrastructure and transportation policies on a higher level. We cannot just keep building new roads, which also needs vast maintenance. The seaway is quite maintenance free.
– You are probably best known for having developed YoungShip, both in Norway and globally? – Yes, that has been a key priority the past years. YoungShip started as Norwegian innovation, but is now the biggest and fastest growing international network for young industry professionals. Today they have 18 branches in 12 countries, and the latest branches before I entered maternity leave include Mombasa/Kenya and Texas. We are spread over several continents, such as Singapore, Cyprus, Dubai, Mexico and Rio. But the organisation is still lead from Norway. It has been incredibly valuable to travel around and meet the various maritime clusters, with their special fields, strengths and challenges.
– You have travelled quite a lot to Haugesund. What describes our cluster? – You are a co-player to Møre in regards of the offshore segments, and I perceive the Haugaland cluster as highly innovative. Other clusters might be more conservative and founded on a more traditional deep-sea focus, but here you have championed the shift from being a shipping-hub with a long and proud maritime history, to seize the opportunities arising from new technology, new energy solutions and new markets. Additionaly, you have a strong entrepreneurial mindset, which I reckon the main artery of the entire Norwegian maritime industry.