On­wards and Up­wards New Pres­i­dent of NBAS, Leo Stornes, re­flects on the As­so­ci­a­tion’s role and fu­ture as­pi­ra­tions

A cou­ple of months into his new po­si­tion as Pres­i­dent of the Nor­we­gian Busi­ness As­so­ci­a­tion Sin­ga­pore (NBAS), Leonard Opitz Stornes re­flects on the As­so­ci­a­tion’s role to­day and in the fu­ture.

Norway-Asia Business Review - - Contents - SOFIE LISBY

Leo Stornes is no stranger to the world of in­ter­na­tional busi­ness. As the xManag­ing Di­rec­tor and board mem­ber of NHST Me­dia Group in Asia he is re­spon­si­ble for the groups busi­nesses in Asia, a fast paced me­dia or­gan­i­sa­tion with in­ter­na­tional reach.

The group own renowned ti­tles in­clud­ing Nor­way’s lead­ing busi­ness daily, Da­gens Naer­ingsliv, as well as TradeWinds, Up­stream, In­trafish, Recharge, Mynews­desk and Nautisk.

“NHST Me­dia Group is a me­dia owner and news provider op­er­at­ing in all the core in­dus­try seg­ments where NBAS mem­bers are en­gaged – pre­dom­i­nantly within ship­ping and mar­itime, en­ergy and oil, re­new­able en­ergy and seafood,” ex­plains Mr Stornes. “We have a strong fo­cus on new me­dia and dig­i­tal re­lated de­vel­op­ment. It is im­por­tant to un­der­stand the trends and cur­rent driv­ing forces within the var­i­ous in­dus­tries in or­der to adopt a holis­tic over­view, un­der­stand how our mem­bers ex­pe­ri­ence the cur­rent op­er­at­ing en­vi­ron­ments”

A core part of the work of NBAS has al­ways been to pro­vide a fo­rum for Nor­we­gian or­gan­i­sa­tions, their ex­ec­u­tives and their em­ploy­ees to meet, net­work and dis­cuss the cur­rent busi­ness en­vi­ron­ment. Fo­rums, sem­i­nars and talks will re­main core ac­tiv­i­ties, ac­cord­ing to Mr Stornes.

“We or­gan­ise a series of break­fast and lunch talks where we aim to have speak­ers and or­gan­i­sa­tions pre­sent­ing top­ics re­lated to mar­ket up­dates and new knowl­edge and tech de­vel­op­ments of rel­e­vance,” he says. “The aim is to pro­vide our mem­bers with up­dates that are of rel­e­vance for their busi­nesses in Sin­ga­pore. The fo­cus ar­eas can be any­thing from tax, pen­sions and leg­is­la­tions both in Nor­way and Sin­ga­pore, to mi­cro and macro up­dates on the many mar­kets and in­dus­tries where Nor­we­gian owned busi­nesses in Sin­ga­pore are ac­tive within Asia.

“We also in­vite our mem­bers to present their cur­rent ac­tiv­i­ties and busi­ness ac­tiv­i­ties to­wards the Nor­we­gian busi­ness com­mu­nity in Sin­ga­pore at large. We or­gan­ise so­cial gath­er­ings where new­com­ers to Sin­ga­pore can net­work and get to know the es­tab­lished Nor­we­gian busi­ness com­mu­nity. We also help stage larger an­nual events as Nor­way Asia Busi­ness Sum­mit and the an­nual Seafood Din­ner.”

Ac­cord­ing to Mr Stornes the na­ture and ex­tent of Nor­we­gian busi­nesses in Sin­ga­pore has changed over the years, in part tes­ta­ment to the city state’s wel­com­ing busi­nesses en­vi­ron­ment. “Twenty years ago many Nor­we­gian com­pa­nies setup busi­ness en­ti­ties in Sin­ga­pore due to the tax in­cen­tives,” ex­plains Mr Stornes. “Many are to­day mo­ti­vated to have rep­re­sen­ta­tion in Sin­ga­pore be­cause “ev­ery­one else is here” and Sin­ga­pore is one of the eas­i­est places in the world to es­tab­lish a com­pany”.

“Sin­ga­pore re­main the coun­try out­side of Nor­way with the most Nor­we­gian owned busi­nesses, which to­day count close to 250 com­pa­nies. Team Nor­way in Sin­ga­pore is rep­re­sented by the Embassy, In­no­va­tion Nor­way, Nor­we­gian Seafood Coun­cil and NBAS. To­gether we rep­re­sent know how and can co­or­di­nate ac­tiv­i­ties that aim to ben­e­fit all Nor­we­gians and Nor­we­gian owned busi­nesses in Sin­ga­pore. NBAS is also blessed with a very pro­fes­sional sec­re­tar­iat that en­sure we op­er­ate as a very ef­fec­tive busi­ness as­so­ci­a­tion.”

NBAS places a high em­pha­sis on stay­ing cur­rent and rel­e­vant to the needs and wishes of the Nor­we­gian busi­ness com­mu­nity, ex­plains Mr Stornes. That means stay­ing on top of trends and de­vel­op­ments and know­ing what af­fects busi­nesses in Sin­ga­pore and Nor­way.

“There are many fac­tors in­flu­enc­ing our op­er­at­ing en­vi­ron­ment in Sin­ga­pore and Asia over­all,” says Mr Stornes. “Ob­vi­ously the cur­rent sta­tus of the ship­ping, oil and en­ergy in­dus­try seg­ments has a pro­found im­pact on all com­pa­nies op­er­at­ing in these and re­lated in­dus­tries. The sup­ply and ser­vice re­lated com­pa­nies within oil and ship­ping have ex­pe­ri­enced pres­sure from many dif­fer­ent an­gles and the fo­cus is geared to­wards defin­ing mar­ket op­por­tu­ni­ties and in­no­va­tion and ex­plor­ing where and how core com­pe­ten­cies can be ap­plied to spark re­newed busi­ness growth.”

Mr Stornes points out that the key for NBAS to stay rel­e­vant and sup­port­ive is to en­gage with mem­bers and un­der­stand their chang­ing needs. “As an ex­am­ple, we see a trend of smaller Nor­we­gian-owned con­sul­tan­cies and

set­ups see­ing po­ten­tial for growth in Asia and us­ing Sin­ga­pore as a base. NBAS aims to be a re­source both for large and smaller com­pa­nies; this is also re­flected within our board where we have a cross sec­tion of in­dus­tries and func­tions rep­re­sented to help us un­der­stand the cur­rent driv­ing forces and how we can fur­ther im­prove what NBAS can of­fer the Nor­we­gian busi­ness com­mu­nity in Sin­ga­pore, re­gard­less of or­gan­i­sa­tional size and in­dus­tries.”

In the years to come more and more com­pa­nies are look­ing to Asia, and for good rea­son, ac­cord­ing to Mr Stornes. “Asian mar­kets col­lec­tively rep­re­sent in­cred­i­ble po­ten­tial for growth cap­i­tal­i­sa­tion. The growing mid­dle class drives de­mand for prod­ucts and ser­vices that con­sumers could not af­ford in the past. The rapid dig­i­tal­i­sa­tion in Asia also rep­re­sents op­por­tu­ni­ties for com­pa­nies geared to­wards es­tab­lish­ing prod­ucts and ser­vices that are tai­lored the dig­i­tal growth tra­jec­tory in Asia.”

How­ever, the re­la­tion­ship and growing in­ter­ac­tion be­tween Asia and Nor­way also ben­e­fit com­pa­nies at home and Mr Stornes high­lights the po­ten­tial for re­search and knowl­edge gen­er­a­tion. “We utilise the communication chan­nels avail­able to us and de­vel­oped over a long pe­riod of time,” he notes. “We also want to bet­ter ex­plore how cur­rent mi­cro and macro trends in Sin­ga­pore and wider Asia can be bet­ter ex­plored via the many tal­ented Nor­we­gian stu­dents tak­ing their bach­e­lor or mas­ter de­grees at uni­ver­si­ties in Sin­ga­pore. It is im­por­tant to en­gage with re­search institutions to bet­ter de­fine an is­sue we want a bet­ter un­der­stand­ing of or a holis­tic over­view on cur­rent sta­tus quo and pos­si­ble fu­ture op­por­tu­ni­ties. Much of what po­ten­tially can be con­cluded from re­search done lo­cally in Sin­ga­pore can be chan­nelled to oth­ers both in Asia and Nor­way.”

PHOTO: NHST ME­DIA GROUP

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