Meet our member, Olav Krabbesund (46), Country Director at VIKING Life-Saving equipment in Singapore and Malaysia.
In this interview he shares his best business- and leisure tips in Singapore and reveals what makes him happy and sad. Thanks, for sharing, Olav!
When did you move to Singapore?
I moved to Singapore 1 of March 2008, it was a strange time when the world economy was mad, the exchange rate for the Norwegian krone was; one $ Sing to 3.7 NOK and the mobile phones had buttons.
All of this soon changed, and the shipyards had a super boom with tons of drilling rigs to build.
Why did you move to Singapore?
Early on in my career, I was on the road for 200 days a year out of Norway–A chance to see the world which I might not have had the chance to otherwise, and I am grateful for the experience and the exposure it gave me. So, when an opportunity was presented to me in 2008 to move to Singapore and be stable in one location, I hung up my Nomad boots.
I became the Director and Technical Service Manager at Norsafe Singapore. We built a company from the ground up and created a lot of value for many people.
A few words on your family… who they are, what they do…
I am married to Joyce who is from Singapore, although she oftentimes gets mistaken for various other nationalities as she’s Peranakan. She is educated as an architect and currently does commercial real-estate; think she likes to sell the houses more than drawing them. She also introduced mala – the spicy, numbing chili to me. One of my favourite dishes is the Dried Chili Chicken. La Zi Ji.
We have a very cheeky 5-year-old daughter, Elise Hope and two dogs, Dennis and Muffin. Funnily enough, Dennis is the greedy one and Muffin is an absolute food snob. We stay in colourful Holland village and that is Just Nice.
What is your business in Singapore?
I received my technical training in Arendal and in Kristiansand. After that I joined Norsafe’s manufacturing unit in 1996, and in 1999 I became part of the team in charge of building and set up a new lifeboat factory in Jiangyin, China. After two years in China, I worked as a service operator for seven years around the globe.
Currently I am the Country Director at VIKING Life-Saving equipment in Singapore and Malaysia.
The company is a world leader that sell and services all types of lifesaving equipment onboard ships and oil installations. I was appointed to this position in 2018 when Norsafe was acquired by Viking.
The workforce is 100 persons strong, with a good mix of locals and foreigners and have good gender balance.
I am a firm believer that having employees from diverse backgrounds gives us the chance to offer the best input and perspective when it comes to business and ideas on serving our clientele.
The Viking Singapore office and service center is located in the West of the island, close to the upcoming Tuas Megaport, Keppel Yards and Sembcorp Megayard.
We support the Port of Singapore Authority when it comes to providing a one stop shop for supply and servicing of ships Safety Critical Equipment.
We also work closely with Owners, Authorities and other stakeholders in the Singapore Maritime and Offshore environment.
The local shipyards also play an Integral role in our business and works as a Catalyst for continued interaction with our customers.
What is the biggest difference of doing business in Norway and Singapore?
Even with the challenges we are undergoing now, Singapore offers a fantastic speed of decision making, economic creativity and keen, diligent hard-working people. Sometimes our people back home in the North struggle to understand the importance and the advantage of this success formula.
What is your best tip to those who want to do business in Singapore?
We are fortunate enough that we have a mix of different people with diverse cultures, traditions, races, and religions. As well as the pool of foreign workers that makes this country spin around.
I truly believe that this diversity is the driving factor behind Singapore’s success as a dynamic thriving business hub.
It’s a blessing and fantastic opportunity to have such a variation of personnel available to gain different angles and insights to what we are trying to achieve, an effective and proactive, fun and profitable business.
The ones who want to do business here really need to embrace diversity and enjoy the benefits that can offer.
How can NBAS best be of use for you?
I think that NBAS is a solid foundation for developing relationships with customers, decision makers and as well enjoy good networking that can mentor and inspire to do things in a new or different way.
I hope soon we can regain the traditions with the annual Seafood event, Lutefisk evening as well as the maritime events that NBAS has been so good at arranging. With the Support of the Norwegian Embassy and Innovation Norway, I am sure that good plans are being laid out for the future that can tie in new and seasoned members and business partners together once more.
What do you love about Singapore? What do you like less about Singapore?
I like the way to do business in Singapore that is clean and compliant. Everyone is out there to do as best job as possible and stay within the principles. Sometimes the desire to be over-compliant can hinder creativity.
The Island is small and with the ongoing pandemic, feels even smaller. We seem to be playing musical chairs or the Lottery at the moment with the everchanging number of dining guests in restaurants.
But it helps to catch up with good friends over the weekends. It also helps with trips back to Norway for the holidays to meet up with family and friends.
Which book do you have on your nightstand, and why?
‘Verden ifølge Vinni’. This is a “Good boy” that originate from my hometown Arendal and is having a great music, entertainment career and somewhat ended up enjoying Asia living in Bali for a while.
It was a present from my wife this Christmas and I read a bit of it every evening.
Your best tip for leisure- and family activities in Singapore?
We do enjoy a trip to the cafés and beach clubs in Sentosa or exploring Pulau Ubin Island by bike, at the Ubin is the most delicious seafood restaurant, where we can see the sun set above Loyang supply base before taking the ferry back to shore.
What makes you happy? What makes you mad?
I feel happy when my daughter figures out something new or tries something that might not work out but learns something from it. I feel happy when my wife subtly reminds me about one of our anniversaries and acting all neutral about it.
I also feel happy if one of my employees succeed and master something that is important to them.
I feel extremely sorry when people get sick or pass away before their time and tragically, there’s been a lot of that lately.
Right from the gut: How has the pandemic affected you, and what is your best tip for holding the head up high and look to better times?
The pandemic has not affected the business operation much, my front-line service personnel are doing a fantastic job.
However, not being able to have face to face discussions with colleagues and business partners hinder our relationship development. Using digital solutions, that we are getting much better at, does somewhat compensate for this but it is not the real thing after all.
We try to gather online as much as possible with colleagues. Giving the flexibility and empowering the employees to adjust their day to suit the work-life situation is important.
It might seem very frustrating and difficult with all the travel restrictions out and in of Singapore, this is hindering businesses but is also protecting the population at large. I think we should feel blessed that we live in a country that have managed the situation to reduce tragic losses.
I would say a big thanks for the well-developed online wine delivery companies in Singapore, they make the restrictions we are facing everyday a bit easier and it’s a good excuse to learn, study and taste a new bottle of Brunello.
It is also a good day when I step out of my home office and immediately, I see my wife and daughter and. Or hear them laughing distantly in the background. I like to be in the present and appreciate what I have.
As the saying goes, ‘it will be better next week’ and mostly I like to believe so.
Singapore forever… or?
Well, forever is too defining a word. Singapore is a great place to work, I have a lot of people here that I am happy to call friends and that is a good feeling. My family likes both Singapore and Norway but the education possibilities for my daughter is very good here, plus it’s a safe place to raise a child.
When the restrictions are eased, we can pop over to Bali for weekend trips, have sunset drinks at rooftop of the hotel and make it back home in Singapore before midnight. That’s hard to beat.
Work is great fun, I have a fantastic team working with me, good partners, and customers. So, I would say, Singapore, at least for the near foreseeable future, as I would like to continue to create some of that magic synergy that we have going on now.
And then, who knows where life’s adventure will take us after that.