Alumni portrait - Linda L. Aase
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- The art of daring to fail
- The art of daring to fail
If you want to be good at something, you must first dare to fail, says Linda Litlekalsøy Aase, CEO in SalMar. She herself regrets not spending more time at Studentersamfundet.
Profession: CEO SalMar
- Master of Science in Material Technology from NTNU, 1985-1989
- Business Economy from Norwegian School of Economic, 1992-1995
- Certified Coach from Ringom Institute, 2008-2009
One late summer’s day in 1985, Linda Litlekalsøy Aase found herself on a long bus ride from Bergen to Trondheim. The soon-to-be student in Material Science had a box containing clothes and other belongings with her. When she arrived in Trondheim, she had nowhere to live, and had to sleep outside in a queue to get a dormitory.
- At that time, it was more common for students to have to sort everything out themselves, both financially and practically. We didn't even have a phone, I had to call home from a payphone. It was like living in the Stone Age compared with today, recalls Aase. But she doesn’t think this did her any harm, it might have even made her more independent.
Passion for fish
More than 30 years later, the Bergen native is back in Trondheim, and this time she didn't have to sleep outside. In May, Aase was appointed as a CEO of SalMar, one of the largest producers of farmed salmon in the world.
Aase is doing the interview via Teams from the office in Frøya, where they have around 800 employees, and many of the fish farms are located. She left a position in Aker Solutions where she was responsible for electrification projects in the oil and gas industry. "I have a passion, not just for fish, but for salmon in general," she said in an interview with the newspaper Kapital at the time.
A criticised industry
- We strive for the entire value chain to be built on the premises of the salmon. The most important thing is that we keep the salmon healthy, from roe to slaughter. This also makes the salmon taste better. The aim is to produce the best salmon with a footprint as small as possible, and in a way that does not negatively affect the environment and surroundings, says Aase.
The farming industry is important so the world can provide enough healthy food for a growing population, she argues. The ocean covers 70 percent of the globe, but only three percent of the food we eat comes from the ocean.
At the same time, the industry has received a lot of criticism for having too much negative impact on the environment. Organisations such as the Norwegian Society for the Conservation of Nature argue there are several issues, such as the release of lice killers and other chemicals, and the transmission of diseases to wild fish.
Spend time creating good friendships
The importance of cooperation and enhance teamwork is a theme Aase touches on several times during the conversation. She has personally experienced how important it is after many jobs as a manager - ever since her first job as a newly graduated civil engineer in 1989.
- Grades measure individual performance, and I think it is a mistake to focus too much on the importance of top marks. In working life, you rarely work alone, most of the time it's about solving tasks together.
She describes herself as a dedicated student. She now thinks somewhat too dedicated, which is not something she would advise today's students to be. The most important skill she brings with her from NTNU is not the subjects themselves, but that she learned how to acquire new knowledge and build good relationships with others.
- Spend time creating good friendships and build relationships, have fun. When you feel good, the studies become easier to complete as well, Aase encourages today's students.
Recipe for success: Make mistakes!
When asked what obstacles she has encountered on her journey through life, Aase takes a deep dive into herself. She has always worked in male-dominated professions, and earlier in her career she used to think: “Because there are so few women here, I have to perform twice as good to be visible”.
- Early in my career I missed several opportunities because I didn't think I was good enough. We must practice being satisfied with us, look in the mirror every day and say: I am good enough as I am.
And we must dare to make mistakes. It is not the end of the world if you've done something stupid and don't sleep well one night or have performed poorly in an exam. Daring to make mistakes is a recipe for success, Aase continues enthusiastically. It is important to remember that there is a difference between a bad day and a bad life.
- If you don't dare to shoot at a target because you are afraid of missing it, you will never be good. You have to miss many times before you hit the target. Having such an outlook is incredibly important in an organisation. If there is room for making mistakes, then everyone becomes a better and more confident version of themselves, says Aase.
Text: Lisbet Jære
8 on the side
8 on the side
What was your dream job when you were 10 years old?
– Fighter pilot - but glad I didn't become one
Your biggest mistake as a student?
– There are so many! I should have spent even more time at the Studentersamfundet.
What talent would you like to have?
– Good at cooking gourmet food
Which 3 qualities do you value most in others?
– First and foremost, good values, but teamwork and integrity are important
This makes me happy
– Many big and small things in everyday life. A good cup of tea, hiking in the mountain, being with the family. To be well received in a new job (as I have been at SalMar).
I'm afraid of
– Confined spaces (have claustrophobic tendencies)
Favourite travel destination
– Litlekalsøy, obviously. A paradise of an island in Austevoll outside Bergen.
One or more legendary book tips
– The Alchemist