Leadership in changing times: Oslo Business Forum

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Are you a student at BI passionate or interested about leadership and management in the real world?  The Oslo Business Forum was founded by two former BI students Christoffer Omberg and Marius Røed Wang, and they just might be the people you want to keep your eyes on.  

On April 10th, the Oslo Business Forum hosted an event titled “Leadership in changing times.”  Where well established personalities in business were invited to give presentations about leadership in the constantly changing environment, with an emphasis on technology.

Photo: Oslo Business Forum : Christoffer Omberg and Marius Røed Wang on stage

The event was held at the Qube, a 6 minute drive away from Oslo airport, Gardermoen.  As we got off the shuttle bus to the Qube, the gate to the event was open for all visitors to explore.  The hall was filled with stands of Nordic companies presenting their business to the crowd, many of which were technology related.  Also a company where presenting free coffee beside a display of two glowing Tesla cars, which are always good touches to an event. I talked with many of these companies and they were all quite interesting.  Companies that presented virtual reality technologies have preached the efficient future method of meetings and engineering using it through an experimental VR setup. My personal favorite was a company called PAWA, who presented a solution for rural Africans to start and develop their own business.

At 10 am, the main stage begun with the grand entry of Richard Quest.  After some humorous remarks and an introductory speech, the speakers were invited up tp the stage one at a time.  

Photo: Oslo Business Forum

The first two speakers, Rachel Botsman, a well known lecturer from Oxford, and Ulla Sommerfelt, CEO of EGGS design, both gave speeches relating to culture and trust.  Rachel went on to explain her perspective and intakes on what exactly trust is. She defines trust as our degree of confidence towards the unknown, and is essential for any form of progress to be made. Because lacking trust will mean that there is less risk taken. She points out that in current management, trust is distributed at the individual network level, rather than old periods where trust was mainly a relationship between subordinate and manager.  Thus building trust among all is the most important aspect for your company to be innovative and progressful. She finally points out the relationship between technology and trust, seeing how easy it is for us in usual circumstances to put trust in technology, the vulnerability and the responsibility of the providers.  Ulla also presented her own business model of EGGS design. Putting an emphasis on how gathering motivated team members is key for an efficient and innovative team. She implements careful cultural and personality interviews when choosing a member. In the end she mentions the importance of sharing all ideas. Unlike monetary capital, intellectual capital does not disappear, it only multiplies. However only when it is shared.  

Photo: Oslo Business Forum

The next two speakers, Anita Schjøll Brede, CEO & co-founder of Iris.ai, and Garry Kasparov, the well known chess grandmaster, gave speeches about AI and how it relates to present and future business.  Anita explains the modern competition environment by comparing it to the story of “David vs Goliath.” Where the small ‘David’ companies are capable of gaining the same tools as big ‘Goliath’ companies, notably AI technologies.  Resulting in the ‘David’ companies outsmarting and out competing many ‘Goliath’ companies. Next, Garry Kasparov gave speech about the classic debate of “Will future AI technology turn against the favor of humans?” His opinion is optimistic.  Claiming that AI’s are only tools and makes us more human by liberating us humans from repetitive labour. Making us capable of more creative work.

The fifth and sixth speakers, Kristin Skogen Lund, president of NHO, and Steffen Kragh, president & CEO of Egmont nordic media, presented how management changes as the environment changes.  Kristin first mentions how issues in the world can only be solved by effectively functioning companies. Thus educating new managers who can foresee and/or cause changes in the world. Managers must take actions before anybody else sees the necessity for it.  Protectionism and lack of trust is detrimental to this process. Steffen presented the management structure of Egmont. He points out how they put emphasis on developing and adapting to customers. The “healthy core” customer base is only made through clarity of customer needs and trust from those customers which is only earned through timely effort.  Another principle is what he called the “tailwind” where a company must grow with the customers.  It is easy for a company to enter with capital, but to sustainability they must create mutual value with the customers.


Photo: Oslo Business Forum

The final two speakers were in my opinion particularly interesting. Abigail Posner, head of strategic planning for Google, proposed a practical methodology to shape one’s creativity.  Abigail said that in order to understand customer needs, it is crucial, but often overlooked, to search the ‘why?’ of the customers. Why do they do so? Why to they want so? She then went on to suggest a practical exercise to boost creativity, which is to try combining seemingly unrelated things together that no one else has considered before. Even nonsensical ideas are helpful to train your inner creativity. The very final speaker, Randi Zuckerberg, founder & CEO of Zuckerberg media and a relative to Mark Zuckerberg, shared her life story and experience about her entering the world of entrepreneurship.  Her speech was interesting in a way that it reflected once again the importance of taking risks in life. You can always guess what may come out of it, but you very well may be surprised to see what it turns out to be in the future. 

Even nonsensical ideas are helpful to train your inner creativity

Photo: Oslo Business Forum

Over all, the event was very informative, enjoyable, and inspiring.  There are many details about each speech I wish I can talk more about.  The tickets are quite pricey for any student to purchase, priced at several thousands of kr.  However, it is possible to attend the events as a volunteer. The details about the next event in September, titled “The future of technology and sustainability” is available on the Oslo Business Forum website.  If you are interested in these speaker events and experiences, I will recommend to check it out.

Sean Cooper


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