From: Norway mostly, but grew up in Singapore and Australia.
Studied: Majored in economics with a minor in international relations.
Role here at Norrøna: Sustainability Developer & Project Leader.
Favorite thing to do in nature: A multiple day ski trip with a group of friends where we camp in the snow and discover new places.
So, where did you previously work before you landed at Norrøna?
In my previous job, I worked with projects at Price Waterhouse Coopers (PWC). It was cool because I got to work across the board in different fields in and outside of sustainability such as oil, gas, and biofuel which is interesting. It was a great place to learn and develop. But on such a large scale, it’s hard to see the effects of what you’re implementing.
Your background isn’t in the textile industry, why make the switch to outdoor wear?
I love the outdoors and being able to enjoy nature is something I enormously value. However, the textile industry is one of the largest co2 emitters, and in some ways, it’s unfair because there are huge variations within the industry. Norrøna is not the same as any other clothing company that makes 9,000 T-shirts a day, then sells them, and then burns them in the desert. It’s that element of working somewhere in the industry where something has to change in both the textile and outdoor industries. I mean, you are going to have to make important changes in the value chain if you’re going to survive.
It’s a shame that Norrøna ends up in this same category, because there really is a need for this high quality product. I mean, we saw it in the pandemic, especially in countries where people don’t move a lot or go outside. Norrøna has inspired people to get up and enjoy nature, and for that – they need long lasting clothing.
Not a lot of people know what a Sustainability Developer & project leader role entails. Can you tell us how much of your job is creative and how much of it is analytical?
It’s hard to set a percentage when you’re both an analytical and creative person. I think because having worked with project management before, there often isn’t enough creativity and too much operative in the details.
I know there is a lot of focus and I dare to say, innovation which is great. But it takes a lot of time when you have to be operative as well. And in any role where you don’t swap shifts with someone and you take your work home with you, it’s easier to think creatively at home.
However, it’s all well and good that I’m passionate, but generating that creative thought process needs the input from the rest of the organization. So I’d say really being able to engage with everyone will be the most creative side of this role and I want to prioritize that more.
If I had to put a percentage to it, I’d say it’s going to be an ambitious 60% productivity and 40% creativity.
Yes, a company’s impact on the environment is huge. But how can an individual contribute towards a renewable future?
I think it’s easy to say “it’s the big things that matter”, such as Norrøna’s roadmap goal that we will reach “net zero carbon emissions” by 2029. I like to think that incorporating sustainable thinking in smaller- and every day processes will impact culture as well. Both socially and environmentally
I think trying to focus on your own choices instead of others and hope that your choices can inspire more. It took me a while to get used to some of the things I’ve changed. But once you get going you learn a lot, and I think you become better equipped to make better decisions.
Does your job affect your decisions in your private life?
The answer is definitely yes. In the much relevant to our time topic of sustainability there is always something new to absorb, you can almost get a bit overwhelmed. However, close to all of the personal decisions I have made in the last few years have been thoroughly questioned and weighed up. It’s got good and bad sides.
A specific example is that I’ve completely stopped driving unless I really have to as well as try to avoid flying. You can get around quite creatively if you put your mind to it – I love that Norrøna has a green commute policy for employees. It’s about shifting your mindset. And understanding that there has to be some sacrifice. And you know, if I’m not driving a car, then I’m biking more. And if I’m biking then you see and discover so much more. You find places you haven’t found. You take new routes. And you’re given the chance to stay off your phone and enjoy life – even if that’s not the intention.
I remind myself that the environmental changes we are only seeing the beginning of now are man made. It is our fault and it’s going to cost each and every one of us something to change it.
So what do you think about Norrøna’s 2029 roadmap initiatives?
They are ambitious and bold – I like that we are willing to set such high goals for the future. Currently, we’ve picked out two of the initiatives to focus on – to ensure net zero carbon emissions, and to have zero landfill waste. In addition to these important goals, we’re going to be constantly evaluating our data points, sources of truth and work with accredited certifications such as Higg, Science Based Target’s, Bluesign, and many more.
The more organizations we are joining who have the same active commitments, the more responsibilities we have that will push us, and hopefully the industry, towards the 2029 roadmap as well. And the more people we work with, the more vulnerable we become when it comes to being completely transparent.
With such an ambitious roadmap, where does one even start?
In order to achieve these goals, it’s crucial with good communication. As aforementioned, transparency is a key word for achieving sustainability targets, and we need to be even more transparent. Especially in 2022. People fact-check and want to see everything. It’s time to be even more prepared to share.
And a lot of it starts with the people working here. Giving them a voice about how they are involved in a company’s role towards becoming more sustainable. And it’s important to have the backing from management which makes it so much easier to incorporate our goals into all departments.
With Norrøna, it feels like you’re contributing to a change when you are working somewhere smaller with a family structure and who are so willing to invest in sustainability and the means it will take to implement change. It’s quite impressive actually, to come here and see how much has been done already even though everyone might not know. Quite a lot of work has been put into sustainability here.
Let’s talk about data. A word that can lead to a lot of involuntary eye-rolls…
Data is all well and good if you know what to use it for. And we have so much data. We need to pull out what we want to use and why and how we can integrate it together in order to base our decisions on it.
I think it’s important to state that it’s both an industry and societal issue that there isn’t a straightforward way for everyone to provide the exact data and in the right format. At Norrøna we have some very skilled colleagues who are good at utilizing the data we have available – I look forward to working with them! Generally, a lot of today’s numbers are estimates as well, which makes sustainability reporting difficult. I think it helps that Norrøna has third party verification. Ideally, sustainability reporting and data cleaning will be more accurate by 2029. But these seven years will go by very very fast, and relying on “someone else will fix it” is not a strategy we should rely on.
Yes it’s ambitious, but I do have a lot of faith because I do think that there is enough willpower and ambition and energy that we will at least try every possible way.
Can you talk about the process the whole company needs to do in order to achieve these goals?
It’s going to take a lot to achieve what we’re setting out to do. And it’s part of my job to engage every department and engage everyone to feel personally responsible for that transition. We need to work together and do critical thinking as a team, rather than providing the answer and leaving it at that.
Following on that, I know there isn’t an exclusive sustainability department for a reason. Something quickly becomes CSR or Sustainability’s “problem”, rather than solving it, and learning about the issue together. My understanding is that Norrøna wants to integrate CSR and Sustainability into all departments – I love that!
Admittedly, there are no concrete solutions, how do you see the departments handling these goals?
I think a positive thing is that there are many ways to reach many different solutions. A first step is Norrøna developing this role which I’m working in, and also a dedicated CSR role in RD&D, Siri, who I get to work closely with. From the shorter coffee-machine conversations I’ve had so far – some of the feedback I get from other people in the organization is that they are not entirely sure about what “all this sustainability work” means for them and for their department. Making the shift to more sustainable operations important for everyone is a place to start. As well as a fun and developing journey for everyone at Norrøna. It’s also about developing workplace culture.
Any ideas on how you are going to spread the importance of sustainability within the company?
I have a lot of ideas. My mind just churns before I put them into practice. I think step one is to get to know the business, the complexity, understanding of the value chain before tying together where we want to end up and how we’re going to accurately measure the process in order to get there.
Another thing that’s important for me is to get to know the people working here. I don’t want to come in new and pretend to know it all, I want to collaborate with people and understand how vital elements of sustainability can be implemented into what they do daily.
I see that Norrøna is good at calling on each other for help and collaborating across different departments. However, as daily life consumes most of us, everyone becomes busy with their own tasks that when sustainability comes knocking on your door, it can often feel more as a chore and not as a holistic part of development. We need to communicate the importance of our sustainability work as a message that feels achievable and stimulates creative change throughout all of Norrøna.
What would you highlight about the 2021 roadmap results?
The 2021 road map results showed dedication and hard work to turn Norrøna’s operations more sustainable. An impressive reduction in air freight, increasing purchasing and utilising recycled fibers and close to only using fabrics which can be 3rd party verified are some of the results I find impressive. This work takes time and dedication from Norrøna’s employees!
Taking with us this information towards the 2029 roadmap, From what I’ve seen so far, there are still areas where we need to do a thorough “baseline” analysis and we need to be quite sure that we are measuring all areas where we want to see progress.
What we want is to communicate to people what our goals are, and more importantly, the journey towards, the process that goes behind trying to achieve these goals – which includes our failures as well as success.
Any final words?
I don’t wake up every morning and sit out in nature and meditate. It’s not that easy.
It’s not always about right or wrong. It’s ok to fail. Not because it’s a safety net to say “it’s ok things didn’t work out”, but because failure is where innovation stems from. I’m really looking forward to getting to know Norrøna, and not just the people at HQ but all around the world and to be inspired by their work and hopefully collaborate on some key areas. I’m learning every day, and still have a lot to learn about the industry and the company. Please send me a chat or preferably – come see me on the fifth floor. I attempted to quit tea bags some years back, so I can offer various seasonal herb teas!