MeToo, inclusion & freedom of speech

A year ago I fronted MeToo in global shipping. Based on the fact that no one had initiated the public debate, and a big and growing frustration from many young females in the industry, I chose to share some of my personal experiences, with specific ideas on a joint effort to create a more inclusive industry.

Many of those I’ve spoken with over the years, who have had MeToo related incidents or faced discrimination, have put the blame on themselves. Focused on what they could or should have done to avoid the situation. That’s what I wanted to shed light on. To point out what is unacceptable behavior, and that power abuse and harassment can happen to all.

After using my voice to push change within areas I believe to be key in the process of modernizing the maritime industry and increase its attractiveness and public image, I didn’t consider it too controversial to engage.

And I didn’t have the imagination that my post would create a fury at my former employer and cause sanctions.

Rather the opposite, as we had a very clear and open commitment to be the global arena leading the way to push diversity. But I had to apologize and defend myself in a meeting, and got a gag order.

Despite of engaging and writing as a private person, which was very clearly pointed out in the article and a following interview, it was required that all communication with the media should be directed to and handled by the employer. Alternatively, I would have to reconsider my employment. I obeyed. And what happened?

In Norway the big discussions were not raised, the topic and debate was chocked. We’ve seen the same in other industries and all around the world. There are various ways to efficiently stop the debate; a female surgeon who has worked on challenging the health sector, and a who founded a campaign to create awareness on unconscious bias, had to leave her career. Female athletes are forced to sign confidentiality clauses that hinders them from actively challenging their organization. Other sign clauses as part of an exit agreement.

The question is; how long will this work?

And is this really the path we wish to be on? Shouldn’t we, when faced with a time where change affects all part of our business models and core structures, welcome a necessary and healthy debate? When individuals are restricted from or warned against participating in public debates, we lose something very valuable- the opportunity for changing society for the better.

Female leaders stay silent because they don’t wish to be associated with MeToo. The elephant in the room in most male dominated industries has been that we tend to avoid the topic, and constructively focus on “show don’t tell” the value of diversity. Through taking a seat at the table, demonstrate results, but otherwise fit in. And no smart leaders wish to be seen as victims or weak – neither do I.

Many also fear that increased attention towards diversity challenges can increase the challenges, scare talents and build a negative reputation.

And parallel to this, we have discussed a new challenge; the MeToo aftermath seems to have increased the distance between men and women, that more executives seems to wish to get rid of “obnoxious” outspoken women or even being alone in a meeting room with a women, out of the fear for potential MeToo incidents. What a paradox! (Just be decent, by the way, and there’s nothing to worry about)

Succeeding with diversity and inclusive business culture is not only a nice thing – it pays of in a bottom line and competitive perspective. The approach of letting change happen organically and without implementing tangible, measurable efforts is nice in the theory. But as with any opportunity area or pain point, it’s extremely naive to think that it can be solved without applying what we do in other aspects of business; identify the challenge, work methodologically to resolve it, and measure how we succeeded.

The lack of a professional, measurable way of approaching this subject, also represents a huge problem, as we need the smartest, best brains and unconsciously fail to attract and retain half of them. There’s a gap between young talents’ expectations towards equal opportunities, and the reality of today’s business world. As a leader; do you realize the value of radical ideas and involvement from your employees, as a tool for succeeding with change?

I have been confronted with people asking me why I’m constantly “seeking attention”. I would say that once there are plenty other voices raising these topics, I’ll be happy to mute my own voice. So to anyone who are fed up with me appearing here and there, who’d like me to shut up; join the open debate now so that the mobilization of many voices and change agents accelerate. And I’ll happily lean back with a glass of wine, and enjoy the discussions.

And by the way; change always feels much better when we’re taking charge of it

proactively. So let’s create it together – from the inside – instead of passively waiting for it to hit us from the outside…

100 Tools for Gender Equality: No.1 – Mentoring

I have dedicated 2018 to promote gender equality in shipping, challenging the industry from within once again. In the coming months I have set a target for myself to find and share 100 examples/tools that any small or large company within our industry can use to join the #DiversityShip movement, and deliver on UN Sustainable Development Goal No.5. If you have a good tool or would like to praise your employer for an initiative, please share it and I’ll include and spread it 😃

The first tool, which is completely free of charge to implement, and extremely efficient, is mentoring. I think every leader in shipping should take on a “pay it forward” attitude, and volunteer to mentor a young talent. And as there are fewer girls still, and some additional obstacles, you would be wise to mentor a female. And to add an extra perspective, see if you can contribute towards a female with a different cultural background than yourself..

Did you know that WISTA Norway has developed a really good female mentoring program together with YoungShip? It can and should be reused in other countries!

I have been mentoring students and other industry colleagues for the past 8 years (mostly girls of non-Norwegian backgrounds) and I’d claim that I’ve gained just as much inspiration, knowledge and insights from them as they did from me.

Also, I’ve had a number of male and female mentors myself, and absolutely sure that I wouldn’t have enjoyed such an exciting career without them and their wise words. Forever grateful for the time that leaders like Roberto and Elisabeth have spared in their hectic daily lives..

Sunu, whom I mentored during her masters degree, and whom I still keep in touch with, is one of them. An amazing and hard-working talent from India, who you can learn more about in this article from Klaveness. They took her on as intern, before she went to DNV GL. Today she is working for Opera Software, which is great for them, but a loss of talent from a shipping perspective (as she wrote a brilliant thesis on responsible ship recycling..)

#WomenWhoMoveTheWorld #WISTA #WomenInShipping

Norway: Agenda for action towards 2030 #UN #SDGs

Shipowner and sustainability driving force Elisabeth Grieg mentioned Nor-Shipping and our Young Entrepreneur Award 2015 winner Boyan Slat and his Ocean Cleanup on the panel, during the Norwegian launch of the 2030 UN Sustainable Development Goals.
In front of 200+ Norwegian top executives who will drive the change within business across all industries, Grieg states that business (and shipping!) is picking up pace on sustainability focus and creating profit, especially through the 3-4 past years.
Walk the talk and ensuring focus from the boards and top execitives is key! From Nor-Shipping we will do what we can to connect, challenge and inspire the industry to join forces and work as #CatalystForChange #DisruptiveSustainability #SDGLead

Among our range of initiatives is the MoU with SAMSA / South Africa, which highlights innovation, technology and other commercial areas – but also sustainability, diversity and the next generation. 

Follow: @theglobalgoals @globalcompact @motorimagen @rederiforbundet @dnvgl @kongsbergasa @bjornkhaugland

Where the apple falls…

I didn’t orchestrate this – my little guy picked this book out of the shelf all by himself. Amidst all the colorful children’s books, he apparently thought 19 months was a good age to start learning about ships 😋 Way to go!!

Monday morning and a proud mom laughing! Might be he’s already damaged by being brought to all those board meetings, work trips and negotiations…

SXSW: the extensive guide to the digital future – ignored by shipping…

Do you know how data science can help avoid the next recession? Or that by 2020 Samsung vows to connect everything they make to the internet? By then its estimated that more than 35 billion(!) devices will be connected! Following my first days in Austin for leading tech festival SXSW, I will take you through some thought-provoking questions and highlights worth reflecting upon.   

Cities are already looking into smart roads, and British authorities state that they’ll aim to take a leading role preparing for autonomous care to hit the highways by 2018. How will the new smart, connected and shareable cities help resolve their port & logistics problems? How will real-time data help us move people & cargo more efficiently? And how will transportation and logistics – hereunder shipping – be disrupted during this process? Could we finally get more cargo on keel? We heard about how we can disrupt an over-regulated industry, and how can big data enable us to predict (and perhaps avoid…?) wars. Pretty relevant for shipping, right?  

When will we look towards disruptors as the digital car repair market place Engie, for inspiration on how the yards and equipment & repair players will be transformed through the full-range solution where malfunction diagnosis and real time bids from mechanics are made available to the customer through an app?

How will bitcoin’s big brother blockchain  or financial cloud services such as Uphold enable the banks to renew themselves or force them to change? And exactly how will the race among neuro science to connect machines and the human brain affect the role split between an analyst’s or broker’s brain and their hyper intelligent processor or other tools a few years from now? Who will win the race of turning big fat data into dollars in shipping?

Who will manage to serve as a connector between The Internet of all Things? Google or Huawei – or someone completely new? Could the entrepreneurs behind The Things Network (an internet network for all things that’s not requiring a 3G or WiFi connection to work) succeed in their crowdfunding campaign to release their fresh new solution in a global market? Amsterdam, Sao Paulo, Boston, Buenos Aires, Kochi and Sydney are already onboard(!) And how could this platform be utilized by our very under-connected fleet if commercial ships?  

How can we look around to see how others succeed; what would demand forecasting for a CMO in media mean to a Chief Data Officer in banking?  

What tech related stories from China will be big in the next years’ time? Looking into WeChat, we see that the owners prioritize launch in South Africa over regional releases in North East Asia, delivering a social portal that even acts as your bank, insurance company, platform for all kind of purchases++

  Spending an ovale weekend in Austin, these are a few of the questions on my mind. Its quite fascinating, or rather alarming perhaps, to discover that our industry is (almost) nowhere to be found among the 80.000 official participants! Considering that digitisation, IoT and big data has been on the industry’s lips for a long time, considered to have enormous potential gamechanger effects, and furthermore – that the SXSW Interactive is the No.1 place to be for insights on the latest, most disruptive and thought-provoking innovations and new movers & shakers of the tech industries, and given the fantastic line-up of speakers, I can’t help wondering… Where is our industry in this? We should be on the agenda, on the panels (as some industry players are already well on their way), but most critical – joining as delegates to explore the digital world of opportunities. 
How will you get the insight needed to position your company, without stepping out of the shipping bubble to explore the tech industry that now merges with all other industries? IT and data systems used to be about business support. Now they are so much more, they ARE a cruicial part of the new commercial business; a new range of products and services that requires a whole new set of competences to stay ahead and strengthen your company’s competitive position. And how will you aim to attract those holding this competence – the gamers, the hackers, the tech-bunch?

A while ago I gave a presentation about the urgent need for our industry to put on a disruptive mindset, and to join forces with entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs to create an optimal fundament for tackling this shift. A number of people were enthusiastic, some looked slightly scared, some claimed we are already ahead, but one person wrapped up what I consider to be a quite typical approach;

“This is really exciting, but you know for us its really not that relevant. We’re producing bolts and bits. There’s actually no chance for us to become digital”

And this quote sums up what I consider to be a bit of a challenge for parts of our industry so. Many of us are in some ways firmly cemented in our established truths and practice. We simply don’t realize that what’s true today might not be tomorrow. I wanted to ask, but didn’t – so instead I’ll share my questions with you; well – how could digital real-time data and a different business model create more value & efficiency for your clients? And as houses are currently being 3D printer in China for less than 30K USD – how could you provide your products with the same opportunities? How can you already now analyze and identify new business opportunities in your field? What kind of strategic partnerships and alliances could this development call for?

SXSW Interactive presents global disruptors and top experts in their fields, across industries and countries. Even President Obama prioritized this event.

 Shipping needs to take its space on the playing field!

PS; Take a look at the way U.S. National Intelligence Council include the next generation and tech-crowd to share input towards their new Global Trends report. Go public or go home 😋    

At the helm: 3rd generation reflections

Four years ago I started preparing for stepping into my father’s shoes. He chaired the family’s 3 small real-estate companies, and had just been told that he wouldn’t get much older, as he was diagnosed with terminal cancer. I was 29, heavily occupied with my own company in a completely different industry, and suddenly felt the weight of the entire family on my shoulders…

Continue reading “At the helm: 3rd generation reflections”

Shipping & the international career markets – my reflections

ImageI spent today at the Chalmers University of Technology in Gothenburg, where a great crowd of maritime students gathered for the annual Sjölog, 2 whole days of career fair and inspirational seminars. This year´s topic was the career markets – doomed by many Swedes. Luckily, our business is a global one. From my perspective, I truly believe that we can still stay (ahead) in the game, even though countries in other regions such as Asia are bigger, cheaper and represent really strong competition moving forward.








ImageIn Scandinavia we are few, expensive and we have in some areas lost parts of our position in the global markets. Our only way of facing the competition is by being creative. We need to innovate efficiently, utilize our resources in non-traditional manners, look for the opportunities hidden in between and behind the major challenges.

My challenge to all maritime students and the young executives and colleagues of the maritime industry is think new – now! What can you do to solve the industry´s challenges? Do you hold the answers to ongoing technological puzzles? Do you actively seek better ways of performing your tasks & responsibilities? Do you manage to think outside the box, without worrying about others laughing of your ideas because they don´t get them?

I believe that you can do all of this. But you need to start being aware of all the potentials and opportunities you come across. How can something defined as a problem/challenge, be turned into a great opportunity?

These are exciting times in the global shipping industry. They are exciting for us as young people, as we represent the next generation in so many ways. Let´s challenge the seniors, join forces to change old patterns, and lets think new – innovate!

If you work hard, stay focused and really believe in your concepts and ideas, you can actually make it. I don´t claim it´s easy, but wow how fulfilling to chase the unknown in quest for tomorrow´s solutions… What is your idea, your contribution to the industry?

Enjoy sweet & creative dreams tonight…..!


SCREW Business as Usual!

IMG_0757     IMG_0758

Just have to share my speakers´ gift with you, and a couple of pictures. Seems Lena & the organisers had been inspired by one of my previous presentations when chosing gifts for their World Maritime Day speakers 😉

The Swedish WISTA Leadership Award “Kompassrosen” was also published during the conference, and with great candidates short-listed, it was really fun to see a previous colleague from the Wilhelmsen group achieving it this year. Congratulations to Karolina Kjellgren of WWL!!

Fierce Competition! Carl-Johan Hagman of Stena Bulk (previous CEO of Höegh) and the Swedish Transportation Minister were among the candidates..
Some impressing and well-deserved words stated by the jury.
YoungShip Board member Christoffer among the women behind the conference.

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