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5 minutes interview #20 – Petter Aalvik

Let me present to you the CEO of Omega; Petter Aalvik. I haven’t had much to do with him, but from what I’ve heard he’s a cool guy. Petter have been interviewed several times. You can read some of the interviews here.

When did you start in Omega? Do you remember your first day?
It must have been 1998 or 1999. Oil price had bottomed out at USD 10 per barrel, and most companies in the oil sector were reviewing their strategies inclusive Omega. Despite the poor market, these guys had fun, they were full of energy, very enthusiastic and hard working.
I participated in evening brainstorming sessions with Arne Gunnar, Sigmund and Leif Arild in Ølen. If they got an idea in one meeting, it was already implemented before the next meeting. Their ability to get things done impressed me. I was grateful for an opportunity to join the Board; I think it was the winter 1999/2000.
My engagement with Omega increased gradually from the brainstorming sessions, to board position, to part time work, to full time work.

As the CEO of Omega, what do you fill your day with?
In Omega we have a flat organization, which means that I have 20 managers reporting to me, at several locations in Norway and abroad, each manager with their own business unit.
Two baskets of tasks fill my day. Basket 1 contains things that I need to produce which I can plan forward in time. Basket 2 contains tasks that need urgent attention, assistance and support, issues that need to be resolved immediately. Basket 2 should always be empty at the end of the day.
It is a good mix. I need a basket 1 in order to feel creative and productive, some documented proof on a daily basis that I am also producing and contributing. Also, in between basket 2 tasks, it is good to have something else to focus on that are my initiatives. But basket 2 makes the job more exciting, and to the extent that I can assist some of the other 20 managers to get their job done, it has impact, even though I sometimes need to ask myself after a heavy basket 2 day, what did I do today?
Basket 1 tasks are for instance issuing a new HSE manual, a management agreement with a daughter company, a presentation to a client, input to a tender, organizing a board meeting, and so forth. Some of the tasks have deadline each month, for instance monthly report to the board and management meetings. Then we have processes that we do annually or quarterly like for instance board meetings for Omega AS and various daughter companies, shareholder meetings, budget processes, preparations of annual reports, strategy processes.
Basket 2 tasks might be an agreement in Houston to be reviewed and approved, a personnel issue in a department which require special management attention, an employee in Vietnam that turns to me for resolving some issues because his manager is not available, a client enquiring about Omega and so forth.

Have you ever been programming?
In my final year project at the University I made a program in Fortran that calculated speed and power requirements of planning boats. Lots of variables to consider and some heavy differential equations. I had the opportunity to use a test tank where I could run models and take measurements to determine the equations.

Where do you see Omega in 5 years?
Clients’ number one choice for project consultants and project management systems. The company is recognized for its service mindedness and the high quality of the personnel and systems it provides. We have rounded 1000 employees and NOK 1 billion in revenue with good margins. The company has the capacity to serve our clients at all locations where they expect us to be present.

Do you have any hobbies?
I enjoy taking care of my family. Cleaning and maintenance of house and car must be done whether I enjoy it or not. I am particularly fond of outdoor activities. I like to exercise and I am trying to keep my body reasonable fit and healthy. I have a small (15 ft) cheap plastic boat that requires no maintenance. The boat requires nothing from me, it is just lying there waiting for a trip on the fjord. Occasionally, during the summer, we take her out for an afternoon cruise and have a really good time.

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