Followed her business dream in London
Bettina Therese Rognås Ellefsen left a secure position in Oslo to work in the field of digital marketing in the London-based start-up business IgniteDigital.io.
Bettina Therese Rognås Ellefsen (27) has taken a leave of absence from her job at Gambit Hill & Knowlton Strategies in Oslo, where her boyfriend from the Norwegian School of Economics (NHH) still lives. She wanted to try working abroad and came into contact with one of the partners in the start-up business IgniteDigital.io via friends.
‘The company was started by four friends when they worked together in Hong Kong, and I became their first employee this autumn as part of their expansion. I’ve always felt an urge to learn something new – to be a knowledge sponge. We only live once and we have to grasp opportunities when they arise, particularly when you’re young and have endless possibilities of absorbing even more knowledge,’ says Rognås Ellefsen.
Although she has now travelled abroad, however, her London flat is rarely empty. She is often visited by friends and is soon to go on a football and pub trip with friends from Oslo, where she owns a flat. Oslo has become her home.
Rognås Ellefsen explains that there was no pressure from home. No demands for top grades on her diploma from the Bergen Handelsgym upper secondary school. The top grades were achieved all the same, and she was able to go on to NHH straight from upper secondary school. Inner motivation and the desire to learn has always been most important to her, and this was something she learned early on.
However, Bettina has also felt what it is like to take on too much and set unobtainable goals for oneself. Today, she is sure of what she can demand of herself, when she has enough to do and when Netflix is more important than emails.
‘When a regular flow of emails arrive day long, in copy and blind carbon copy, it’s easy to become stressed out. You make it impossible for yourself to get à jour and if you’re conscientious, as I am, it can be a great stress factor. At my job, we use a number of tools, such as the app Slack, to communicate and share information, both between those of us working in the company and between me and the customers. It’s much more efficient and less stressful,’ explains Rognås Ellefsen.
Rognås Ellefsen was not afraid of going for the job in London.
'I really believe that taking chances like this while you’re young makes you more equipped to tackle challenges later in your career. You just become braver. And if it turns out that going abroad wasn’t the right thing for you after all, you can just go back home. You will, in any case, have gained lots of useful experience about yourself, other cultures and perhaps new ideas for products, services or ways of working. That’s why there’s no great risk involved in taking the step to work abroad,’ says Rognås Ellefsen.
Only woman in the company
As a digital marketer, Rognås Ellefsen is part of an industry that is constantly evolving. In her job, she combines her knowledge of business, communication and branding with digital services and tools to help businesses and brands in Britain and abroad to succeed in their online dealings.
‘When a customer hires us, it is because they need help to navigate the digital tools and possibilities that are currently available. Many businesses spend a great deal of time and resources on attracting customers outside their target group, on collecting data that cannot be converted into valuable insights and actions, and on activities that are simply harmful to the brand. Good, clear advice is the only medicine in such cases. We are able to help people with some of these challenges every day, which is very rewarding,’ she says.
The company was formed two years ago and currently has offices in London, Bali and Hong Kong. Rognås Ellefsen, who has a master’s degree in Marketing & Brand Management from NHH, is the only female employee in the company and works with customers from all over the world.
‘I think some women underestimate themselves and what they are capable of accomplishing. I believe that I can have a positive influence on the management, which only consists of men,’ says the 27-year-old.
Create something new
It is not the first time Rognås Ellefsen has played a role in developing a company. In 2010, she started the student games ‘Bergen Challenge’ along with some fellow students. The organisation has since established itself as one of Norway’s biggest sport festivals and its founders are spread throughout Norwegian and international business and industry.
‘I’ve always enjoyed working in and with small companies. The possibility of creating something from scratch together with others, and working for yourself and your colleagues, is very rewarding,’ says Rognås Ellefsen.
She believes that her education from NHH has equipped her to make the right decisions and priorities.
‘In my business, you have to like the feeling of taking an exam every day. I have to juggle between many customer assignments each day, which each have their own unique challenges and close deadlines. I need to be able to quickly get an overview of each assignment, plan my day and week, work hard and efficiently both alone and in a team, and also come up with creative solutions, preferably before lunch, because the deadline can suddenly change. It’s an advantage then to have survived this kind of pressure before, and my time at NHH was, in many ways, a huge tornado that lasted five years,’ she says.
Can’t lose with NHH
Rognås Ellefsen believes her education from NHH has provided her with many career opportunities.
‘After five years at NHH, you can end up as a public accountant, marketer, fund analyst or entrepreneur – the world is your oyster. When choosing an education, this knowledge was both motivating and liberating. I understood that I was on a solid footing. You simply can’t lose with an NHH education under your belt, in the same way as I can’t lose by going for it abroad. At the same time, it is useful to choose a path both in your studies and career that is entirely your choice.’
Rognås Ellefsen believes that many people just go with the flow and follow other people’s dreams believing that they are their own.
‘To use the words of one of my favourite lecturers, Victor Norman, this is a real loss to society.’
How long does she intend to stay in London?
‘Indefinitely. I’ll make the first evaluation this spring. Right now, I’m going to eat some cake,’ she concludes.
The article is written by Sigrid G. Bakken and Sigrid Folkestad.