Person behind the pen

Who? A curious school drop-out who is passionate about working, and holds a great interest for exploring the world, cultures and challenging established points of views. Humanist with dedicated interest for the people and societies around me. With my own personal mission to contribute towards a better world. Small steps taken every day.

Why? A former colleague (thank you, Bente!) challenged me to start writing about my life & thoughts as a young entrepreneur – and I can guarantee that this blog is nowhere near fashion & pink pages.. Instead, I hope that my readers can see that there are so many other exciting career paths than those of fashion and media. This blog is about how I think and react on the world around me, whether its work related or more personal.

How? I have always been one for taking independent choices. Stubborn, always asking the “why?!” and “what if?!”s, refusing to follow the herd without knowing why or what’s down the alternative path. Needless to say I was never among the most popular through junior high.

At 9 I snuck out from home to work in the stables of Norway’s only horse racing tracks, as my parents had banned horse riding. I refused to wear braces, even though “everyone” agreed I should. I skipped confirmation, and didn’t fit well into a school where learning the correct answer by heart was more important than understanding and investigating how things was connected – or how knowledge could be applied in our everyday life. I grew up in a “challenged” family as the oldest of 4 siblings and filling the role as an extra parent, and covered my insecurity and shyness behind a tough facade and witty remarks that in general kept the pretty girls from bullying, but at the same time brought along problems with the teachers. I often felt that I didn’t fit in, and my attitude made the teachers resent me rather than looking into why I acted out. At 16 I chose to leave school, starting to work and moving out from my parents’ home – taking responsibility for my own future both financially and practically.

Where: I spent 7 years from 16 – 23 in a small farm-house from the 16th century, without running water. My original plan was to become a equi-therapist (chiropractor for horses), as I used to spend every spare hour in the racing stables from the age of 9. One thing was for sure – I´d never ever end up working in an office; as it sounded very square. But after some hard working and quite varying years consisting of stable work/farm work (including building fences & driving tractors), phone sales, kindergarden, behind Shell station & bakery counters++, I got rid of some piercings and (in 2001) entered my first office job. And finally discovered it was no way near as square as I had thought.

Thanks to a mix of superb colleagues in TopTemp Recruitment who gave me my very first chance to prove myself, a year of secretary studies, and some years in the Norwegian Valuers´ & Surveyors Association, I entered the maritime industry completely by chance. And 10 years down the road – what an experience it has been! One of Norway´s biggest – yet least visible – industries.. A few years went by, enjoying loads of exciting challenges within the Wilh. Wilhelmsen Group. After almost 5 years I needed more uncertainty & challenges not to become complacent in a corporate head office environment. I wanted to get out into the real world, get my hands dirty and see how the industry was from a different perspective. And so, without contracts, strategy plans, risk analysis or a business plan, I started my own company January 2011.

Why on earth?? I was extremely fortunate, being at the right place at the right time I assume, and with great support from a number of people whom I couldn´t have done without. Balancing several long-term assignments, amongst it establishing and branching out YoungShip International from being a local Norwegian association, and project mgt and concept development of a branding & recruitment project for the joint Norwegian maritime industry, called “Ocean Talent Camp 2013”.

I took nothing for granted, and was extremely grateful and excited for the fact that I had this opportunity to truly test my abilities & limits (the sky?). Being your own boss poses challenges and the liberating feeling of freedom. Even though the days can be both long and hectic, it is just something different – building a company from scratch. Not to mention being able to select which priorities and values I wished to work towards. And which projects was “no go”.

My first autumn as independent, I spent travelling to places like India and Nigeria – and spent 2 assignments and several months in Lagos working for an offshore shipowner. In focus was crew and personnel, working with QA, process improvement, system development, training and anti corruption framework. Also dealt with negotiation of supplier contracts. Loads of fun and stretching the comfort zone!

And then? The next spring my father got terminal cancer and passed away in short time. I took time of from work, and was awarded Shipping personality of the Year 2012 just a week after his funeral. Following his death, I succeeded him as Chair of our family’s real estate companies, all 3 in pretty bad shape. So during the following year, I prepared myself to become a first-time mom, started the turn-around processes for the family business and ran my own company. And, supposedly, also enjoyed maternity leave – which for me meant combining taking care of my baby and getting work done at the same time. Which meant, basically, returning to the practice shared by women of different tribes and societies throughout the world for thousands of years… The ultimate work-life-balance, where family, children and business are all integrated.

What now? Today a mother of two fantastic and crazy little toddlers, I enjoy re-discovering the world through their eyes whilst lifting the leading maritime event week Nor-Shipping into a new aera, where both a sustainable and a digital shift makes waves in the global shipping industry. With the opportunity to set these shifts and my passion for diversity, transparency, next generation and entrepreneurial mindset on the agenda, I wake up every morning with inspiration and dedication, knowing that I can contribute positively towards a fantastic industry that is the core blood-stream of our globalized world.

Follow this blog to get inside my head, and to challenge my views. I enjoy good discussions!

– Birgit

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