Three career journeys

Norway has relatively low unemployment compared to most countries and needs many high-tech professionals to fill the gap in various sectors, from energy and shipping to finance and IT. A profile of three different job pursuits shows how each career journey can be quite different.

Russian Shipping Engineer 
Ekaterina Safonova, an engineer in marine operations for Det Norske Veritas’ technical advisory ship and offshore department, never intended on staying in Norway. The 26 year-old Russian originally meant to work here just two years, but now has a full-time contract and recently purchased her first apartment.

Her journey to Norway began while she was working part time at a Russian shipyard. She was simultaneously finishing her engineer studies at Astrakhan State Technical University and decided to post her resume on a recruitment website in Russia.

Within two weeks, Kelly Services contacted her about an engineer position in Det Norske Veritas’ Moscow office. The job entailed training for two years in DNV’s headquarters in Høvik, just outside Oslo, and working among close to 60 different nationalities.

Safonova was thrilled about the opportunity to work abroad and knew a bit about Norway from a previous two-day business trip to Oslo. She says she found the people friendly and open and especially liked that how as a 22 year-old engineer she was treated as a professional and an equal by her older peers.

“I knew all Norwegians were good at skiing, Norway is a salmon paradise, and that it is very beautiful and nature is its big treasure,” she added.

The process for getting a Norwegian visa permit was smooth because she applied as a specialist with a higher education and had a job contract with DNV. The hardest part was getting her university diploma translated from Russian into English, she said.

Safonova had a permit within 2 ½ months time after applying and was settled in a DNV apartment in Høvik within just one week’s time. A work colleague helped her get a national ID number, also known as a D-number, apply for a tax card and open a bank account. DNV also provided her with Norwegian language classes after work once a week with Berlitz teachers.

“I saw (language classes) as an opportunity, it’s very helpful,” she said. “It’s more for the social life issues, like reading an e-mail from the bank or a doctor…As long as you speak English, there is no problem because everyone speaks English.”

Ekaterina Safonova (middle), a Russian shipping engineer,
together with her DNV colleagues Venkatapathi Tharigopula 
(India), Jannicke Witsø (Norway), Svein Inge Leirgulen (Norway), 
and Sandra Haga (Columbia). 
© NV/Nina Rangøy

German Education Manager
Anna Brandt found her job as an education manager in Opera Software through personal connections while working in Switzerland for AIESEC, an international student organization. She met an Australian girl — who was then education manager at the Oslo-based web browser developer — during one of Brandt’s two trips to Oslo. When her friend’s position became vacant and was posted on her Facebook page, Brandt decided to apply.

“At the time I was looking for a new opportunity in Scandinavia because I was always fascinated by the region,” said Brandt. “(Oslo) is a very beautiful city with little areas and incredibly pretty. I don’t have that where I’m from (in Duisburg). It’s also a capital and lively, but at the same time it’s not too big, so you get to know it.”
Anna Brandt interviewed with Opera over Skype video calls from Switzerland before she was invited to the company’s industrial-chic headquarters in St. Hanshaugen, a trendy neighbourhood just outside downtown Oslo. Two weeks after accepting the job she moved to Oslo and became one of 150 foreign employees and 50 nationalities in Opera’s headquarters, where half the labour pool is non-Norwegian and English the corporate language.

“It’s so important for us to get the best minds,” said Katrin Jaakson, an Estonian working as Opera’s head of global media relations. “A year ago we were looking for a project manager and got the best person from Malaysia.”

The relocation process was easy for Brandt because she was an EU citizen and had Opera’s moving assistance. She took her contract to the office of the Norwegian Directorate of Immigration (UDI) in Oslo and was granted a permit the same day. Opera provided her with an apartment to rent (a big plus, according to Brandt), Norwegian language courses at the job, and social activities. She immediately joined the company’s dance troupe and performed at that year’s Christmas party.

“At the typical Norwegian company, most people want to run home,” said Jaakson. “Norwegians are more family focused. Our foreign and youth employees contribute to the fact that we have a lot going on (socially).”

Anna Brandt from Germany found her job at 
Opera Software through an Australian Facebook
friend. Pictured here with Egyptian colleague Amir 
© Opera Software

Chinese Risk Analyst 
Linlin Liu’s journey was perhaps the most left up to fortune. She ended up in Norway because of a chance meeting with some Norwegian students in the Norwegian Entrepreneurship Programme (Gründerskolen) who were visiting at her school, Fudan University in Shanghai.

She was impressed by what she heard about Norway. So when a Chinese colleague told Liu about the scholarship program for foreigners pursuing Masters Studies at BI Norwegian School of Management, she decided to apply to the school.

Today, Liu is an analyst in risk management at Norges Bank Investment Management, which manages Norway’s NOK 3 trillion Government Pension Fund Global, the second largest sovereign wealth fund in the world. She started out as a NBIM trainee in 2007 right after graduating from BI.

“The trainee programme at NBIM was a perfect match,” said Liu. “There were about 150 employees and very flat organization. I got a very good impression and a chance to rotate among the groups rather than start at a London investment bank — which are gigantic — and start at the bottom.”

There are currently 290 employees from 25 nations working at NBIM’s offices in Oslo, London, New York, Shanghai and Singapore.