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.
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