Alumni portrait - Remi Eriksen - NTNU Alumni
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Position: Group President and CEO of DNV
Education: 1988 – 1992: Master of Science, Electronics and Computer Science, Norwegian Institute of Technology, 1986 – 1988: Officer School, Norwegian Artillery
The importance of asking questions
Being curious, inquisitive, and critical are some of the most important attributes NTNU’s new chairman of the Board, Remi Eriksen, gained during his student days. Asking the right questions is perhaps even more important than finding the right answers, says Eriksen.
Remi Eriksen, who was elected chairman of the Board in June 2021 has broad professional experience both from Norway and internationally. He holds a Master of Science from NTNU and is Group President and CEO of DNV. The purpose of DNV, which was founded as “Det Norske Veritas” 157 years ago, is to “safeguard life, property and the environment”. He thinks it goes hand in hand with NTNU's vision "knowledge for a better world".
- It is very inspiring to work for a company that aims to safeguard life, property, and the environment, which is more relevant now than ever. We could not come closer to a commitment to sustainability in 1864 when DNV was established.
Get to know your job like the back of your hand
Since 2015, Eriksen has been the CEO of DNV, which is the world’s leading classification company and expert in assurance and risk management, with a presence in over 100 countries. This year, he was offered the position as a chairman of the board of NTNU.
- It was an honour to be offered the position, I immediately said yes. The fact that I have studied at NTNU myself, and that an important part of my identity is connected to NTNU’s predecessor NTH, made it even more appealing.
In the last 28 years, Eriksen has held several positions within DNV, including in the USA and in Asia. His advice is to go thoroughly to the core of the job that you have, and lay the groundwork, before rushing forward in your career.
- You may quickly be dazzled by other opportunities, but when I look back at my career, I realize that there are no shortcuts. Instead of trying to do a bit of everything, it is better to concentrate on going into the essence of your job.
Work life doing a 180 degree turn
Among the things he wants to highlight from his student days, is acquiring the ability to become immersed in new things in a structured way. And the importance of being curious, inquisitive, and critical.
- What are the most interesting challenges you are working on right now?
- We are currently in the process of implementing a new strategy, and we are working on reaching out with this to our 12,000 employees in 100 countries. Then it's meeting new customers and making acquisitions that fit into that strategy.
Eriksen says that his work life did a 180 degree turn during the pandemic, and it has entailed a massive change: From constantly traveling the world to mostly leading digital meetings from his home office.
Spends 1 billion on research, development, and innovation
DNVs new vision is “A trusted voice to tackle global transformations». He refers to five important areas where the company works to give advice on how the transition to a more sustainable society can take place: food resources, health, transport, energy, and digitalisation.
- We spend 5 percent of our turnover on research, development, and innovation, more than NOK 1 billion a year. I think this corresponds well with NTNU's vision «knowledge for a better world». I strongly believe that technology, and especially digital technology, can help finding solutions to the challenges we face in nutrition, health, transport and energy.
Three matters close to his heart
In an interview with Universitetsavisa, Eriksen says that he has three matters close to his heart. The first is to increase the representation of women. The second is to make NTNU more visible on the international stage, while the third is sustainability in all contexts.
When it comes to sustainability, Eriksen has great faith in technology as an important element in the solutions to the great challenges and believes that NTNU as Norway's technological and scientific university has great opportunities to contribute. The business community should also take a more active role.
- What do you mean when you say that NTNU should be more visible internationally?
- There are several elements here. NTNU can become more competitive when it comes to obtaining international research funding. It is also a goal to become a university that attracts the best international students.
Valuable Alumni networks across borders
Eriksen has not been active in the alumni network himself, but he has recently given some lectures to other alumni networks.
- As chairman of the Board of NTNU, it is natural that I can contribute and get involved in the alumni-network.
- Do you think that international alumni networks can be a gateway to internationalisation and to manage cooperation with the business world?
- It certainly can be. Networks are valuable, but it is also important that they provide relevant content for those who participate, and that it is not just a way to keep in touch, since we are all very busy. When it comes to building networks across national borders, digitalisation makes it much easier today compared to when I graduated.