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Eriksen to accelerate customer benefits, digitalization and industry collaboration

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DNV GL’s new Group President and CEO, Remi Eriksen has high ambitions for this company, widely renowned for its expertise. Naturally, he has often been asked where he aims to take it. Now that he is a couple of weeks into his new role, we have asked him to share reflections and ideas for the next phase of DNV GL.

What are your key priorities for the initial period of your new job?
First of all, I'm very excited about having been given the job to lead DNV GL. But I'm not alone in taking us forward, so I will try to visit as many of our customers and colleagues as possible to discuss how we can solve pressing challenges together. It's also important for me that we finalise the merger work so we can provide our customers with even more benefits in terms of scale, scope and expertise that the merger has already yielded.

How do you view DNV GL's future business prospects?
Before answering this, we should look at the major changes happening in the world. I believe the future will be very complex and dynamic, and that we are facing a period of slower global growth compared to the past ten years. However, the world economy is still on track to more than double in size over the next 40 years – creating not only immense challenges but also opportunities.

The global economy will depend on shipping to move goods and raw material around, but with increasing expectations to improve safety and operational efficiency, and to reduce the environmental footprint. I see a future where oil and gas still play an important role, probably in a different way than what we see today. It will be a future in which the increasing costs of extracting difficult and remote resources will create a wave towards more efficient resource utilization.

The world has just started the transition towards using cleaner energy and, in parallel the demand for energy is expected to increase by almost 50% over the next 35 years. Added to this, society expects energy to be greener, more reliable and affordable. In this ‘trilemma’, there are conflicting goals which will force us to change the way we generate, transmit, distribute and use energy. A good example is an uptake of low-carbon fuels in combination with battery hybrid solutions in the maritime industry, which offers reduced emissions to air, lower operating costs and not least improved functionality. 

In this context, I know DNV GL can play a role in moving our industries forward. Most of what we do is related to the maritime and energy space, and within sectors that will change noticeably over the coming decades. There will be at least two tough years for the maritime and oil and gas industries before we see improvements, and DNV GL is adapting to this new market situation. On the other hand, we will develop new business positions within our energy and business assurance areas, and potentially new business areas. This duality of fostering growth while facing contraction in other sectors is challenging, but also a great opportunity to grow an agile and strong organization.

It is important to note that even though there is a challenging market in the maritime and the oil and gas industries, this does not mean that there are no new opportunities in these industries. There will be increased demand for services that can help improve efficiency, qualify new cost effective technologies, and standardize specifications and work processes – just to mention a few. DNV GL’s cross-disciplinary expertise comes to play here.

Another area of positive change I foresee is that businesses, authorities and other stakeholders must collaborate, contribute and innovate in new ways. This fits perfectly with DNV GL’s 151-year-long track record as a ‘standard setter’ and as an initiator, driver and facilitator of joint industry collaborations.

Other major developments we have just seen the start of, and which provide great opportunities for most of our business areas, are digitalization, connectivity and the ‘Internet of Things’. These will be crucial to ensure that the components of wider integrated energy and transportation systems work together as a whole. Digitalization is also about cyber security and using data in smarter ways to gain insight for better decisions. 

So, we will use the strategy period to become a data smart company, using digital solutions to innovate and offer better services to our customers as well as to increase our own efficiency. I know we can contribute a lot to our industries in this area. 

In addition, I believe trusted independent parties are increasingly needed to enable safe and responsible business performance as well as sustainable value chains. Our Business Assurance services are world-leading, and I see great prospects for further expansion here.

Remi Eriksen
DNV GL’s new Group President and CEO, Remi Eriksen.

Will you maintain DNV GL’s significant investment in R&D?
This is an easy question to answer. We will continue to spend 5% of our revenue on research and innovation. DNV GL’s experts will continue not only look at new concepts for the more distant future, but seek immediate solutions for our industries. My ambition is that we can accelerate results from our innovation work into business operations to ensure they benefit our customers as soon as possible. 

How can DNV GL’s drive for collaborative innovation and standard setting contribute in the current business environment?
I would start by saying, ‘don’t waste a good crisis.’ Now, when many industries are facing difficult times, I think there is a good opportunity to get inefficiency out of the system. The purpose of innovation becomes much clearer – it is to come up with smarter and more efficient solutions, not bigger and more complex ones.

I have learned that an effective approach is to combine expertise from different industries and competencies, because some of the challenges cannot be solved by the knowledge within one industry alone. I will put more emphasis on such cross-industry collaboration, since we have seen many ground-breaking outcomes from recent projects. Think differently, and the innovation can turn in different directions. Then, when your market faces an upswing, your organization will be better able to compete and ensure sustainable operations. 

The collaborative process of developing standards leads to new insights, innovation and technological development, and thus contributes to economic and societal benefits. Standard setting helps make industries safer, more sustainable and efficient by harmonizing technical specifications, safety and environmental requirements, and so on. Standards also build trust between business and society. To develop standards and recommended practices is what we have done the past 151 years – and it will continue to be a major focus area for us. We are in the business of building trust.

What is your promise to DNV GL’s customers?
As you know, DNV GL has grown extensively over the past few years, most recently due to the merger between DNV and GL. Our services should take full advantage of the increased scale, scope and expertise that the merger has given us. And our pro-activeness and responsiveness should be second to none. My promise is that we enable our customers to become more efficient without compromising on safety and sustainability.  

What do you think DNV GL’s customers will notice about your new leadership?
I am a technologist at heart and have discussions about technical topics with colleagues and customers almost every day. I am a curious person. I want to know how things are working – or the opposite, why they are not working. In line with this, I try to gather different types of people to find new ways of solving problems. I truly believe that novel approaches and new technologies will generate safer, smarter and greener solutions – and therefore better business. I also have passion for progress, so I want our customers to see an increasingly agile company offering a wide and deep pool of knowledge that safely enables business improvements.

How do you think your colleagues define your leadership?
That is a question which of course is better answered by my colleagues. But, let me say that DNV GL is a values-driven company, and it's impossible to become a leader without sharing values such as quality, integrity, innovation, being results-oriented, and truly caring about our customers and colleagues. I really hope it is obvious that this is an important part of my leadership style. And I know that this is very important to my colleagues around the world, too.

My philosophy is also about seeing the best in people, giving them responsibility and recognizing that everybody can contribute. This creates pride in our achievements, and proud colleagues perform better and offer better ideas for improvement.

I also know that many see me as someone eager to turn innovation into new – and sometimes radical – solutions. This is what has been a fantastic opportunity during my 22-year career at DNV GL – the ability to have a real impact on our industries as well as society. 

What do DNV GL’s purpose and vision mean to you, and what do you want them to mean to customers?
DNV GL’s vision is to have a global impact for a safe and sustainable future. Our entry point is primarily how technology and smarter processes can solve challenges and thus benefit industry and society. We want to have a positive influence in terms of sustainability and safety by bringing new insights and technology to the market as quickly as possible. Therefore, like safety, sustainability is incorporated into everything we do – our development of standards and recommended practices, our collaborative innovation initiatives and, of course, all our services to our customers. 

Our purpose of safeguarding life, property and the environment is our guiding star and defines what we need to be good at. We strive to enable our customers to advance the safety, sustainability and efficiency of their business operations. We help them to balance the demands of business with society’s and to bridge the needs of today and tomorrow. Many organizations in the industries we serve have a great potential to improve their safety, environmental and financial performance. We have the expertise to contribute to this, from the detail to the bigger picture.