Author: Ulrika Frantzvaag, Marketing Communication Manager, Schneider Electric Norway
21 Feb 2020
The need to dramatically reduce carbon emissions has never been so widely recognised. However, energy consumption is still at its highest. Energy efficiency will therefore be essential if society is to achieve sustainable growth. Karoline Nystrøm, CEO of Schneider Electric Norway, is committed to being part of this move towards more widely available renewable energy.
Speaking about being awarded Best CEO in the Renewable Energy Industry by European CEO, Nystrøm said: “I am truly honoured and proud to receive this award, but, to be fair, it is a result of having the most fun, meaningful and inspiring job in the world. It is very easy to get excited when working with the most cutting-edge technology, while directly contributing to the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals.
Companies that operate sustainably are not just acting responsibly; they are also making good business decisions
“Whereas a lot of companies are struggling to find their true green DNA, we have credibility and a direct impact that is second to none. Having energy efficiency at the top of the agenda has tremendous potential and this will, I hope, be my proudest achievement. I believe the future winners of this award, and in business in general, will be the ones who combine great business with a positive environmental impact.”
Nystrøm continued: “Renewable energy is certainly one of the most important and relevant topics of today. The state of the planet we hand over to the next generation is something very close to my heart. My eight-year-old daughter wants to be a polar explorer when she grows up, but she is very worried about the ice melting before she gets to cross the South Pole. Therefore, I take great pride in reassuring her that her mum and everyone at Schneider Electric is working to prevent global warming.”
Companies that operate sustainably are not just acting responsibly – they are also making good business decisions. By using technology such as that offered by Schneider Electric, businesses can improve their performance, cut costs and reduce carbon emissions. Nystrøm strongly believes it is possible to be a successful business while having a positive environmental impact.
Follow the leader
For Nystrøm, strong leadership is essential to business success. “One of the most important but, at the same time, challenging aspects of being a good leader is the complexity of having people with the right competency, attitude and social skills in the right positions,” she said. “This is, in my opinion, the key premise for the success or failure of a business, as people are the most important asset to any company. My main priority as a senior executive is to ensure that I have a leadership team that is fit for purpose and that we develop a culture and an organisation that enables us to take on all the opportunities and challenges that lie ahead. The ability to evolve an organisation through empowerment and inclusiveness is at the heart of my vision.
“One of the initiatives we have received great recognition internally for is our Norwegian trainee programme. The programme is accelerating our pace of change considerably and we are seeing more young talent actively seeking companies that have a strong purpose beyond business. Having sustainability embedded into our company DNA, we are attracting the very best talent that is pushing the rest of the organisation to deliver as well.”
Barbara Frei, Executive Vice President of Europe Operations at the company, believes that Nystrøm’s clear focus on having the right people in the right place is one of the main reasons for Schneider Electric’s success. “Nystrøm has worked with us since 2018 and she was named CEO for Norway in January this year. I am very proud of the work she and her team have done. It shows that we maintain a big focus on talent acquisition in our company and that we are taking the right steps when looking for the right people, including a commitment to diversity and hiring different types of talents,” Frei said.
“Schneider Electric is committed to a multi-local approach. Even though we are a global company, each country has individual market needs and faces different challenges. We therefore value strong local leadership, which Karoline embodies,” Frei continued.
Getting to grips with the grid
The energy sector can gain exceptional advantages from integrating the Internet of Things and artificial intelligence with operational technology. By bringing together insight from these technologies and making hardware and software systems cooperate, the sector can collect real-time information about energy efficiency. This is not only advantageous in the fight against climate change, but also generates big business opportunities by streamlining processes.
A major challenge that Schneider Electric is working to solve is how to integrate distributed sustainable energy resources like solar and wind energy into traditional environments and grids. The company is involved in several microgrid pilot projects all over Europe, with the biggest difficulty it faces being energy storage, as these renewable sources don’t guarantee regular access or a constant supply.
In 2019, the Norwegian capital, Oslo, was awarded the prestigious title of European Green Capital by the European Commission for its approach to conserving natural areas, cutting emissions and improving environmentally friendly transport options. A combination of subsidies, incentives and a motivated population is driving electrification in all aspects of society. Norway is experiencing an explosion of interest in energy efficiency. “Just over the past couple of months, we have been invited to engage in dialogues with the Minister of Climate and Environment, the Mayor of Oslo and a number of CEOs,” Nystrøm said.
“Being able to directly impact the most critical challenge the world faces today – the climate crisis – really has a profound effect on me. There is a tremendous amount of talent in the organisation and, as a leader, addressing sustainability and corporate social responsibility truly contributes to increasing employee engagement and has a motivational effect on the entire team. Although our drive for higher share prices is always there, financial results will never outshine the pride of making an impact beyond business,” Nystrøm concluded.