As our member sees it: Bob Brandal

Meet Our Member Bob Brandal

As our member sees it: Bob is building from Singapore!

Please meet Bob Brandal (47). He is the Vice President of Sales and Marketing, Asia Pacific at Nordic Semiconductor ASA. Recently, he moved from Hong Kong to Singapore. Bob’s actual name is Bjørn Åge, but that’s a name Asians and probably any other non-Scandinavian would find terrifying to try saying, and definitely not be able to remember. So after moving to Hong Kong in 2014 he has been using his nick-name Bob both for business and personal context.

Welcome to Singapore and NBAS, Bob!

Can you give some insight into why you moved from Hong Kong to Singapore?

The main reason for my move is that we are setting up a new APAC headquarters in Singapore. We have had our HQ in Hong Kong since our beginning in Asia. Like most technology companies, we chose HK due to its proximity to Shenzhen, the world’s number one electronics manufacturing hub.

But with the significant benefits Singapore offers to companies, its strive to become a technology hub in Asia, and the recent political changes in Hong Kong, Singapore has become an attractive alternative. And now, with Hong Kong’s prevailing strict Covid restrictions and  travel restrictions kept in place while the rest of the world is moving on, we found this to be a good time to move. We have ten sales office locations throughout Asia, and with my job as the head of sales and marketing for the APAC region, it is crucial to travel around to meet with both customers and our teams and partners.

In a heavy maritime Norwegian business cluster in Singapore – we are always curious about the more Technical newcomers. Nordic Semiconductors is an exciting addition to the business community. Please share what you do and what your main products and solutions are.

Nordic Semiconductor specialises in ultra-low power and high-performance wireless systems on chip (SoC) for wireless communication on the 2.4GHz band. Most of you would know this as Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Zigbee, and other wireless communication standards. We are the market leader in Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE), with a market share of around 40%. This is unprecedented in a competitive industry like the semiconductor market.

We are the solution used in most keyboards, mice, wearables, gaming controllers, etc., in your home or office. Industrial and medical applications also make wide use of our technology. In addition to short-range wireless communication, we also establish ourselves as a major player in ultra-low power 5G cellular solutions. This is a low-power system communicating with the cell phone network. However, this is at a power consumption that enables a battery life of 10-15 years running from a single battery. And our latest augmentation to our product portfolio is a new generation low power Wi-Fi 6 solutions. We will start sampling this product to our customers later this year.

Family life – do you bring the family to Singapore?

No, it is only me. I have a grown-up daughter (26 years) back home in Norway and two lovely grandsons (5 and 2 years). So, I regard myself as “done and dusted” when it comes to traditional family life. Now, I focus more on the grandfather role. This has been really challenging with Covid and the travel restrictions. Thus, I am very excited that my move to Singapore will allow me to freely travel back to Norway to be with my daughter and grandsons as often as practically possible. 

Bob Family

Book on your nightstand?

I don’t really have the interest nor the attention span to read lengthy fictional books. So, when I read, it is normally factual and instructional to learn something new. Either within my own field of work or to learn completely new skills. I am also one of probably few who actually read the user manuals to the brim when I buy myself a new gadget. This is partly out of interest in the technology, partly out of fear of missing out on some of the cool but less obvious features. My friends recently pulled me into playing golf. So, currently, the book on my nightstand is something as dry as The US Golf Association’s “Player’s Edition of the Rules of Golf.”

Bob Wake Water Park

Best tip for leisure- and family activities in Singapore?

I am probably not the best person to ask, as I just moved here a few weeks ago. Before that, it was mostly business trips where the only non-work activity was pepper crab and beer at Jumbo. But the one thing I am very excited about when it comes to living in Singapore is that we have our very own wakeboard cable park. Wakeboarding has been my passion for sports for the last few years. And despite a steep learning curve, it is quite a family-friendly leisure activity.

What makes you happy – and mad?

Besides the ultimate joy of being with my daughter and grandsons, I am never as happy as I am when I can head off for a long weekend to the wakeboard cable park in Bali and just spend the weekend wakeboarding, riding around on a motorbike, and relaxing by the pool or beach.

One thing that makes me mad is how more and more people seem to uncritically take random posts and single-person opinions in media as facts. The increased widespread misinformation and the number of people uncritically absorbing this is mind-blowing.

How did the pandemic affect you – what is your best advice for tackling a crisis?

The toughest part was not being able to go back to Norway to see my family. But also the feeling of not being able to perform my job as I was used to, which included a lot of traveling. I also felt caged and almost claustrophobic when there was no option to get out of HK. But I found the best way to tackle it is to take a step back and look at the situation with some perspective. Make sure to change the focus and consider all the positive and good things in the situation. Only focus on things that you can influence. Not linger in agony over the things you can’t change.

How can NBAS best be of use for you? What are your reflections on the value of national and European business organisations, on the background of your experience from Hong Kong?

The networking and social aspect are vital for me as a newcomer in Singapore. Besides, being an organisation with experience in Norwegian and Singaporean business matters would be very helpful as we are now building up a new headquarters and team in Singapore. And the tie-in to the European business organisations further strengthens the leverage as an organisation to work with local government on important matters for the business community. I sat as Vice Chairman of the Norwegian Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong (NorCham HK). Also, I was an alternate director in EuroCham so I know first-hand how valuable it is for a chamber to be part of EuroCham. While we had enough leverage to work with the Norwegian government and representatives, we could also be part of a stronger organisation with more leverage towards the local government through participation in the European chamber.