Alumni portrait - Bjørn Simonsen - NTNU Alumni
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Position: CEO in the investment company Saga Pure
Education: Master of Science, Energy and Environment with specialization in Energy and Process Engineering
Was influenced by idealists from the studies
Bjørn Simonsen, who has a background from the civil engineering degree Energy and Environment, believes that Norway has a lot to gain from investing in hydrogen in order to achieve the goal of becoming a low-emission society.
In December, Bjørn Simonsen started a new job as CEO of the investment company Saga Pure. Prior to that, he was director of investor relations and communications at the company Nel Hydrogen.
- There is probably not much left of the engineer in me. The job at Nel has, among other things, been to develop the company strategically at an early stage and communicate about technology in an understandable way for investors, journalists, and politicians. But it is probably helpful that I am an engineer when I must convey information which may seem complicated, says Simonsen, and smiles from the screen in his home office.
Those who want to save the world
Simonsen began his master's degree in Energy and Environment in 2002. Many people seem to believe that Energy and Environment is a kind of "kinder engineering study" where one can get away with the most complicated calculations. Here must Simonsen dispel a myth.
- Many people think that there are less of the heavy engineering subjects than there really are, so sometimes new students get a surprise. There is probably something in the myth that it is a study that attracts people who want to save the world, but one quickly learns that the world is not saved by idealism alone.
- What motivates you in your work?
- Being able to do something positive for the environment and nature is my main motivation. I have always had a close relationship with nature. I was a member of both Blekkulf and the scout growing up and spent a lot of time outdoors. Then it is extra motivating to work with something that means that we can still have wild nature in the future, snow in the winter, etc.
Good contact with fellow students
He still has contact with many fellow students from the days at NTNU, and it is a firm tradition that they have an annual Christmas buffet where people fly in from different parts of Norway to meet. Except this year due to the Covid-19 restrictions, but then there will be an even better Christmas buffet in 2021.
- What is the most important knowledge you have gained from your studies?
- There is a lot to draw out here; of course, all the academic knowledge was important. Among my fellow students there were also several idealists and, in general, a lot of optimists. And for my own part, being part of the student organisation, the student theatre and the tour group was social and valuable.
The master thesis was a door opener
In his third year, he began specializing in energy and process engineering. The reason for this was that he wanted to work with hydrogen, which he ended up writing a master's thesis about.
- How was your way into the job today?
- I wrote a thesis about hydrogen in collaboration with the Institute for Energy Technology (IFE), and got my first job there. It is incredibly good that you can work on a relevant thesis in collaboration with business and research institutes while you study. This can have a positive impact on your career later.
In addition to battery charging, hydrogen is the only zero-emission fuel. Pure water vapor is the only discharge. Simonsen likes to talk warmly about the benefits of hydrogen, and enthusiastically says that this year is the first time a Norwegian prime minister has talked about it.
E24 writes about “a hydrogen party” on the Oslo Stock Exchange, and mentions Saga Pure - where Simonsen is the newly appointed director - as one of the companies that is doing well.
No A-student – but is now a director
Simonsen describes himself as "not exactly an A-student" with average grades. In terms of career, it was clearly the master's thesis and specialization that was most important, and a certainty that the dream job is at the crossroad of what one can do with who one is.
After working with hydrogen for 12 years from a research, organizational and business perspective, he has now switched to an investor perspective.
- My motivation is exactly the same, although what I do has changed. Now I get to help the companies that develop good environmental technology solutions to get the capital they need. And since the company I work for recently was listed on the stock exchange, a fun aspect is that anyone out there can contribute to the success of the technology solutions we focus on.