Referring to her own experience so far, working in different though challenging business environments has helped her in creating a mindset for life; on top of that, surrounding her self with people with good values has been the most important tactic. As she notes, there is need for radical changes on environment and sustainability in the shipping and ocean industries, such as international ratified treaties under maritime law, that will help us transform the current landscape.
SAFETY4SEA: How did it come about that you joined shipping industry and your field of expertise specifically?
Silje Bareksten: Ever since I was a kid I’ve loved the sea. I grew up right by the fjord, in a small village on the west coast of Norway, where life in and on water is an integral part of life. My father was a sailor, my grandfather a captain - I am neither, but I did end up working with ocean industries. My specialty is in commercialization and development of technology, as well as facilitating for impact investment through building arenas and ecosystems. My strong curiousness towards relationships, correlations between things and a knack for technology combined with love for the ocean probably set me off in a direction that ultimately lead me to shipping.
S4S: What about your current job/ role most excites you and why?
S.B.: I get to work with players across the entire value chain, helping to steer the shipping industry towards more socially responsible and sustainable practices. That’s incredibly fulfilling! I also get to enjoy learning and working with cutting edge technologies and innovative solutions. The way I see it, technology is no longer domain specific - it’s cross industrial, just imagine how blockchain or artificial intelligence can be applied to a vast area of operations. For that reason, now more than ever, maritime industry is depending on orienting itself outside it’s typical domains, looking at cross-industry collaborations, technology transfer and new business models.
S4S: When you think of the word successful who's the first person who comes to mind and why?
S.B.: Thor Heyerdal. Heyerdahl is in my mind a true inspiration and a good role model for defining success. His passion was the ocean, and he embraced the need to explore which I think is such a strong characteristic of the Norwegian spirit. He stood by his beliefs, worked relentlessly and wholeheartedly all the way through old age for the causes he believed in, no matter the resistance. Heyerdahl gave society so much knowledge and inspiration. That is to me true success.
S4S: Who is/was the most influential person/mentor to you & why ?
S.B.: This is an interesting questions, seeing as I have not been the type to idolize anyone. When I was a youngster, I only put posters on my walls because my classmates did it - I never understood the point. Now reaching 34 years, I have realized that I have been a very strong driver in my own life, never relying on anyone for advice up until a certain point. Fortunately, my journey has for the past few years blessed me with encountering some amazing people who I finally feel I can look up to for advice.
S4S: What is the best and what was the worst piece of advice you've ever been given and why?
S.B.: Worst advice: To not study STEM, being told I was not a «technical or mathematical» person. Glad I was the type to not listen to authorities! Best advice: Being open, respecting and listening to people no matter their background. My motto is that all encounters, good or bad, can teach you something of value if you are willing to really listen.
S4S: What is the most worthwhile career investment (in energy, time, money) you’ve ever made?
S.B.: 10 years + working in hospitality gave me a mindset for life. My time at CERN, ISU SSP and challenging myself to start writing and speaking in public has also been amazing investments. And perhaps most important of all.. surrounding my self with people with good values.
S4S: If you could give a piece of advice to your 18-year-old-self one thing, what would it be and why? What piece of advice should you ignore?
S.B.: Don’t be afraid! I don’t have many regrets in life, but skipping great chances in life because I was afraid is top of the list. My advice to any 18 year old would be: take that chance! The worst thing that can happen is that you fail - and that won’t kill you, it will only teach you valuable life lessons make you wiser and strengthen your character.
S4S: In the last five years, what new belief, behavior, or habit has most improved your business life?
S.B.: I’d say it’s strongly correlated to my approach to life which has changed and developed significantly. I generally stress very little, although my responsibilities and amount of tasks has grown exponentially the past years - and I think that comes from feeling grounded and secure in my own self. If you trust yourself and you don’t spend time being worried or afraid, it reflects enormously on your achievements.
S4S: What would you like to change in the current maritime landscape and your area of expertise specifically and why?
That’s a hard question, seeing as there are so many things I want to do for the maritime business! If I really have to choose, I think it would be to change the global policies on environment and sustainability in the shipping and ocean industries. We desperately need international ratified treaties under maritime law, that will help us transform the maritime industry. It’s imperative for saving our oceans which are our livelihoods and legacy for future generations.
S4S: What is your personal motto?
S.B.: Karma. What you send out into the world, will eventually come back to you.
About Silje Bareksten, Head of Sustainability and Technology at Nor-Shipping
Silje Bareksten is Nor-Shipping’s first ever Head of Sustainability and Technology. Silje is responsible for Nor-Shipping’s green and digital transformation initiatives, supporting the maritime industries in developing profitable models for sustainable business activity within the ocean space. She’s a World Economic Forum Future Council member, former entrepreneur and experienced in developing organizations through innovative practices. Prior to her existing role, Silje was Head of Smart City in Oslo, where she was one of the pioneers in championing Oslo position as a sustainability and technology hub internationally.