Alumni of the month: Hard Olav Bastiansen
Hard Olav Bastianen is a partner at NGS Global Norway AS. They specialise in recruiting managers and specialists – and have good advice for alumnies that are interested in a career in management
Why did you choose to study comparative politics?
It was probably a bit random. After doing history at intermediate level I became interested in going deeper into political history and the nature of politics.
What part of your studies has been of the most useful in your work?
One of the most important things is that you learn analytical thinking, but having a solid formal background also indicates that you are serious. I now work in an industry that is characterised by a significant variation in seriousness and professionalism. A higher education lends credibility.
I have done a lot of work for the public sector and it has been an advantage to understand the political picture and the interaction between political and administrative levels.
In addition, political science helped me to get my first job. The bank manager at DnC Stavanger – Hall Guttelvik – was a political scientist and had been the chief administrative officer for Stavanger. I applied for a position as a financial advisor and got it, not least because he liked the idea of having a political scientist at the bank.
How did you end up in the recruitment business?
I worked for several years within information and communication. Like most communication people, I am interested in understanding other people and the society around us. It was therefore a natural development to move to an industry where it is important to understand people, understand the position and understand the organisation, in order to find a candidate that is a good match.
You work with recruiting for specialist and managerial positions. Do you have three good career tips for students and recent alumni who want to one day become great managers?
Firstly, it is important to be clear about whether you want - and suit - a managerial role or whether you should aim for a specialist career without management responsibility. Many people who invest in a long education are interested in the subject and enjoy being able to immerse themselves. This can be an indication that they should be pursuing a specialist career. As a manager, you become more and more a generalist as you go through the ranks of an organisation, and often lose contact with what you perceive to be your "subject".
Therefore if you choose to target a managerial career, it would be important to gain experience from multiple areas, not just a narrow field of study. Seek opportunities and be willing to take on responsibility.
Finally: Learn from the people you perceive to be good managers. Observe and note how they act and try to understand why they succeed.
The recruitment company that you were a partner in - A'HEAD - has in the last year become NGS Global and you have become the Norwegian office of a global company. What is the biggest difference between Norwegian and foreign managers? And do you think this will change in the future?
One of the biggest differences between Norwegian and foreign managers is the level of pay. We live in a very egalitarian society, where pay differences in pay are small compared to most other countries. This is also reflected in the Nordic management model, which is characterised by the short distances between the different levels in the organisation. Our international colleagues are often surprised by how well employers and employees work together in Norway.
It is difficult to predict what management will be like in the future. We are in the middle of a transition phase that will also affect future management models. We do not know the full implications of key development features such as digitisation and globalisation - something that should be a topic for many master’s and doctoral assignments.