Luck & Adversity
Working for a tech incubator hub in San Francisco opened my eyes to new ideas, new ways of working and not to mention introduced me to a bevy of inspirational people. It was a warm September day, and as serendipity would have it, I met Arne Halleraker, who headed up Partnerships with luminous Internet players for Telenor. He reinforced a little-known fact that in my own ‘backyard’ is a company with a significant global footprint who plays an interesting role in today’s fast evolving digital revolution. Wasting no time, I applied for the Telenor Management Trainee Programme. From day 1, I was assigned to Svein Henning, an EVP who I was to ‘shadow’ for 1 year. From the onset, I felt that I struck gold with this ‘mentor’. He was an analytical intellect who I began to understand – more so his way of thinking, working and management style. But after 6 months this all came to an end as Svein left the company.
I had two choices then -to sink or to swim. Being that the former was not an option, I ‘swam’ to a person who caught my attention mostly while working on joint projects. I asked Tom Christian Gotschalksen to be my new mentor. With that, came a short-term project of 6 months working for our Thailand operating unit, dtac.
A whole new world
My assignment in Bangkok really took me by surprise. Originally when I boarded the plane my assignment encompassed more of a coordinator role between Headquarters and this Business Unit. But when I landed on site, it was apparent that the project lead, Michael Bech-Hansen, had something different in mind for me. To this day, I remember his exact words to me at our first meeting in front of 20-30 new colleagues. He said, ”Petter, you can join us if staying means running the entire project”. Within 20 secs I accepted the position and a role that was completely out of my comfort zone. This role involved executing the plans behind the acquisition of the NYC-based startup TAPAD and its advertising technology which enabled new digital marketing capabilities for Telenor. Furthermore, it meant coordinating teams across three different continents. But after weathering some storms ranging from unsuccessful pilot results to banning of advertising in Thailand for 2-3 months, eventually results were positive. We became good at quickly scaling things that worked and shutting down stuff that didn’t work – creating meaningful business impact for dtac.
From the statue of Buddha to the Statue of Liberty
It was while in Oslo for a few weeks I got a call from Tom Christian to come follow him yet again to a new city. This time he wanted me to join TAPAD in NYC. Funny enough, the offer brought me back to my former US days of helping start-ups in San Francisco connect to different stakeholders in the entrepreneurial ecosystem. The big difference this time was that I would be in the ‘start-up seat’ instead. Working with such a talented group of people has been extremely rewarding. Every morning, walking to our 60 Madison Avenue office, I’d feel the pressure to perform and deliver my best. TAPAD’s agile way of work enables small teams to learn and move quickly. It’s also beneficial on a personal level, because I got to work with and learn from people from multiple disciplines, such as engineering, design and data science. Our team has set-out to build an advanced advertising and marketing platform from the ground up. The insights we gathered in Thailand became evident and directly applicable to the products which we are now building in NYC.
Back in my ‘backyard’
Fast forward. After working in NYC for 10 months, I am now a Product Manager based out of TAPAD’S Oslo office. My main responsibility is to translate our client’s needs and input into meaningful and user-friendly products which enable the client to more thoughtfully and efficiently interact with their customers in digital channels – creating real impact for their business.
It’s been a year of learning — adapting to new environments as well as with people with dispersing, yet interesting viewpoints. I am really excited as to what the future holds and who I’ll learn from next!
Written by: Petter Brøvig 2017