Securing the future of publishing

Anita Huun. Photo: Siv Dolmen
When NHH Bulletin meets Anita Huun, she has been in the job as CFO in Cappelen Damm for one week. Her new colleagues has already named her "Minister of Finance". "However, it's only the title Siv Jensen and I have in common," she says. Photo: Siv Dolmen.
NHH By Sigrid Grøm Bakken

13 December 2018 11:15

Securing the future of publishing

Anita Huun asked author Jo Nesbø for help to land her first job after NHH. Fifteen years later, the roles have changed. Now she is responsible for securing author’s income.

‘I would never have thought he wanted to meet me.’

Former NHH student Anita Huun talks about her first meeting with the author Jo Nesbø. The meeting would later secure her a permanent position with the IT giant Microsoft, and eventually define her career.

‘When I graduated from NHH in 2003, I was met by a tough labour market. Business school graduates with a permanent job after the studies were the exception, not the rule. If you wanted to get hired, you had to stick out from the crowd,’ she says.

Anita Huun. Photo: Siv Dolmen
Anita Huun has always looked for the future. "At Cappelen Damm, I will strive to be at the forefront of customers needs, reading patterns and deliver content in new, relevant channels, she says. Photo: Siv Dolmen.

Challenged by Jo Nesbø

When a trainee position turned up at Microsoft, Huun had to be creative. She decided to make a video, where she interviewed people about why she should get the job.

‘In order to get the company management's attention, I wanted to include a famous person. As we both had our degrees from NHH, I decided to go for Jo Nesbø. I found his telephone number in the directory, and plucked up the courage to call him.’

The famous crime writer, who publishes through Aschehoug Publishing House, was not easily convinced. He gave Huun a challenge.

‘He gave me a list of numbers, and said that if I could solve the last two numbers on the list within 30 minutes, he would participate.’

15 minutes later, Jo Nesbø's phone rang again. Huun had solved the problem.

Anita Huun and her student friend Marte Røst Veflingstad.
Anita Huun was very active during her time at NHH. She sat in the board of the cabin committee and was responsible for the Aulabar during UKEN. "The friendships I developed at NHH are unique. We've gone different ways, but we still keep in touch, she says. Here with her friend from school, Marte Røst Veflingstad. Photo: Siv Dolmen.

Securing future profitability

She stayed at Microsoft Norway for eight years, first as a business analyst, and later as Director of Finance in the company, after a six-year period as Director of Finance in the bank Handelsbanken.

Now, she is moving on from the IT sector to the publising industry, as she recently landed the position as Director of Finance for the publishing company Cappelen Damm.

‘I have never worked for a Norwegian company, and I know next to nothing about the publishing sector, but that was exactly what got me interested. At Microsoft, I was a pawn in a big game, but here I get the opportunity to learn a lot of new things, and, not least, have a much greater degree of influence,’ she says.

Like others in the media industry, the publishing houses are also being challenged by new technology and big digital corporations such as Amazon.

‘This development provides many new opportunities for readers, authors and publishing houses – content is becoming easier and quicker to access, and new distribution channels create an exciting dynamic,’ says Huun.

Despite the fact that Norway is one of the world’s most widely read countries, the publishing industry must be willing to adjust to the digital shift.

‘I will work to ensure that the publishing house is at the cutting edge when it comes to customer needs, reading patterns and channels. In order to succeed, I have to think strategy and innovation, finding the best ways of increasing our sales,’ she says.

‘What will the publishing industry look like in ten years?’

‘I think that the physical book is here to stay, perhaps even more so now as a counter-balance to all the digitalisation taking place. Luckily, most people want to read more,’ she says.

Started investing at 13

Since lower secondary school, Huun has had a burning interest in finance. This was also to be her master's specialisation at NHH.

'I did my first equity investment early in my teens, and the first thing I did after school was to check the share prices on the teletext. The stock market has always fascinated me, and I would say that it is both a hobby and a passion,’ she says.

During her studies and later on in her career, she has fought to help other women do what she did.

‘It is a sad thing that the business sector today to a great extent mirrors the traditional gender roles. Diversity in management and in the different sectors is essential. There are not enough women either in the IT sector or the finance sector, and they must work purposefully to create a dramatic change in this area.’

‘The solution lies in knowledge, making sure the management takes responsibility, and fighting unconscious biases. In addition, it must be viable for women and men to combine work and family life.’


Job interviews lined up after Innovation School

At Innovation school in California, Ingvild Kvinnsland learned new innovation techniques to bring innovation in business. ‘That makes her attractive in the job market,’ says an NHH researcher.

‘You've got two children yourself aged two and six. How do you make it work?’

‘Having a managerial role is demanding. I am not home to put the children in bed every day, and there are many things that I have to give less priority to, but I think it's important to be present when I am at home.’

Huun says that she would never have believed that the meeting with Jo Nesbø 15 years ago would lead her to the publishing industry. She is sure that she has found her dream job.

‘For me, a dream job is about developing, working with products you are passionate about, working with people who are enthusiastic and who have energy and drive, and having a possibility to influence decisions. I can do that now, and it feels good.’