Re-examined: Øyvind Thomassen
Why did you decide to study at NHH?
I talked to a second cousin before I chose a high school, and he influenced me to choose economy and law at Nordstrand gymnas. I wanted to study something in the same area, so after high school I talked to him again. He had finished 2.5 of 4 years at NHH, and after 10 minutes of talking to him, I was ready to apply. He focused a bit more on the social than the academic aspects. He also tried to scare me a bit by talking about the requirements the first semester, but I wasn’t scared, and at 19 I left for Bergen and NHH. It was an amazing sense of freedom to move to “another country”, and be able to do it all by myself.
Do you have a favorite lecturer?
Viktor Normann was, and still is I understand, an amazing lecturer. «A small open economy” is an expression I still use.
Tell us about your career?
The start was simple. After graduating I went in to the military. I worked at “Håkonsvern” at the submarine squadron and lived at Hatleberg student housing with my wife who still studied at NHH and our newborn son. It was great, but also challenging, to be new parents with a playpen in the shared kitchen and with Karens supervisor who did not understand that anyone could have kids while studying. I actually heard a funny story from my son and his fiancé, who is now studying at NHH. She told Stian about the time there was born a little boy who lived in a kitchen drawer at Hatleberg. Stian could tell her that that boy was him. There is no better chat-up line.
In the end of 1987 I applied for my first real job. There was only one job to apply for in the newspaper, in Vesta Insurance, and I got it. After two years there, a small Swedish guy walked in to the cantina and told us that he had bought the company. That was Bjørn Wolrath from Skandia, and I have worked in the Skandia group since. In the end of 1998 we knocked on the door of Skandiabanken in Sweden and asked if they wanted to start up in Norway as well. They did, and I was asked to be in charge. As an entrepreneur, that was a dream job. In 2010 I was asked if I wanted to take charge of Skandiabanken in borth countries, and I said yes. These days I use most of time in Sweden, and I am moving there this fall. That will be a new chapter in my Skandia-story, and I am very grateful for the opportunities I have gotten.
- Age: 50
- Job: Leader of Skandiabanken AB
- Graduated: 1986
What has your education at NHH meant for your choice of career?
As I mentioned, I didn’t have many choices when I graduated. When I think back now, the thing that has had the biggest influence is the fantastic social training I got from NHH. In Skandia we had a saying in the 90s that has a lot of truth to it: hire for attitude and train for skills. I don’t think about what my next step should be career wise. I focus on whether I have energy, drive and motivation. The day I don’t anymore, it’s time for the next step. That’s how my career has developed, and I still haven’t reached that stage.
Do you keep in touch with the people you studied with at NHH?
Absolutely, but not very many. But we are five families with at least one person from NHH in each who spend a week at the same house in Tuscany every summer. That is great. And the funny thing is that some of the “kids” are now at NHH, probably influenced by us. We all have a common identity from the time at NHH, which I think stays with you. Especially for us who didn’t come from Bergen.
Tell us about your most vivid NHH memory!
That has to be the night of November 4th 1986, when Stian was born. Karen had been at a gig with BBB and I was at a birthday party. From the time Karen woke me up at 3.30am at Hatleberg and until Stian was born at 0840am, I don’t remember much.
Do you have any good advice to give NHH students about getting a job?
I am careful with giving advice, but will gladly be a sparring partner. The most important thing for me is to use both head and heart, but let the heart count the most. Ask yourself the question of what is most important to you. Don’t think about how you should advance career wise. You should consider which criteria matter most to you. What kind of a culture you want to work in, whether it should be a big or a small company, if you seek comfort or constant changes. And no matter what, get a good leader that you can report to. Seek tasks that motivate you. In a good environment you will perform better, and then your career will advance without you having to worry about it.
Which websites do you visit most often?
skandiabanken.no and skandiabanken.se as a good number two.
Favourite specialist literature?
No, I am more interested in good conversations and discussions with interesting people who know thing that I do not. I love learning like that, and it triggers my own creativity.
And what's on your bedside table?
An alarm clock.
What kind of career would you choose if you could choose again?
I wouldn’t have chosen any different. But I recommend everyone to get a job before you have kids, even though it is possible that NHH is better organized for parents today.