Alumni portrait - Hilde Tonne - NTNU Alumni
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Position: CEO of Statnett
Education: M.Sc from NTH (NTNU), Norway and RWTH, Aachen, German
Going green faster
- Work hard, but have fun, and think beyond Norway's borders, Hilde Tonne, CEO of Statnett, advises students. She is working towards going green faster with more electrification.
Hilde Tonne doesn’t need look further back than March 15 last year to find the most important moment of her career. That is when she became CEO of Statnett. Statnett has the main responsibility for the main power grid in Norway, which consists of a total of 11,000 km of power lines and 150 transformer stations throughout the country.
- Things are changing fast in the energy sector today and there are major transformation happening. It has been an exciting and hectic time since I started. Currently our main priority in Statnett is a new strategy that will enable us to go green faster, says Tonne.
Both hardworking and social
Tonne has always liked to have a plenty of irons in the fire. As a student, she was both hardworking and social. For example, she was very active during Uka, the yearly student festival. During her last year in Trondheim, she was deputy manager during Uka, and the rest of the year she took time off to travel around the world.
- The advice I have to students is to try to find a good balance between working hard and persistently with the studies and yet being social.
Another advice is to think beyond Norway's borders and look for international opportunities. Tonne herself appreciates the experience she gained while working internationally and how this expanded her horizons. Parts of her degree were taken in Germany, and she has lived and worked in both Bangkok and Copenhagen.
Experience from the oil industry
Tonne has a master's degree in petroleum technology. She started her career working in Statoil and Hydro, where she spent a total of 17 years. Then she did what she calls a ‘crazy move’, when she left the energy sector and started in Telenor.
- I went straight into the corporate management at a new company, which meant both completely new responsibilities and a completely new industry. This is one of the most daring things I have ever done, says Tonne, who ended up working at Telenor for 10 years.
Throughout her career the broad understanding of technology she gained from NTNU has been worth its weight in gold.
What motivates you?
- To work with people, to make an organisation interact well internally, and to achieve the goals we have set. I am also motivated by working on important social missions.
Need to solve the energy and climate crisis
Tonne is also concerned with innovation and research, as they are important driving forces in getting society towards desired goals. She has been responsible for research and innovation in both Hydro and Telenor and is the Chair of Board at the Research Council of Norway.
What do consider the most important issue society is facing?
- Norway - and the world - is in the middle of a climate crisis and an energy crisis that must be resolved. Many things are moving in the right direction, but the state must be more forward-looking and accelerate electrification. There is also a great need for a major restructuring of the workforce, where the 200,000 jobs in the oil and gas industry must be replaced by new jobs in green energy.
Even if the challenges we face are major, she believes that Norway is in a good position to manage the transition to green energy.
A world not only based on profit
How do you see the world in 50 years?
- I think we live in a zero-emission society based on renewable energy. Hopefully we have managed to keep the temperature down and have a more sustainable way of living with circular economy, repurposing, and conservation of biodiversity. Maybe we have found new economic models that are not solely based on growth, she says - and adds with a smile:
- We can hope that we have become wiser and don’t fight and just think about ourselves all the time, but the latter I do not quite know if I believe in.
8 a bit on the side
What was your dream job when you were 10 years old?
- For a long time, it was to become a teacher, but then I became a civil engineer
Your biggest mistake as a student?
- I had a couple of major mistakes in German when I studied there, but I can’t go into detail about that…
What talent would you like to have?
- To be able to get up and perform an aria perfectly
Which 3 qualities do you value most in others?
- Honesty, humour, and care for other people
This makes me happy
- A good dinner with good friends and family
I'm afraid of
- I am constantly worried that something will happen to my children
Favourite travel destination
- Our cabin in Larvik
One or more legendary book recommendations
- A little life of Hanya Yanagihara - a thick book that I read in two days.
Text: Lisbet Jære