Keynote Lecture speaker Nicolai Tangen from the Norwegian Oil Fund: “The most defining moments are not personal”

On Thursday 24 March, Saastamoinen Foundation and its partner Aalto University Executive Education (Aalto EE) hosted a Keynote Lecture with Nicolai Tangen, the CEO of the Norwegian Government Pension Fund Global, as the speaker. The audience comprised professionals from the Finnish business and finance world as well as students from Aalto University.

The theme of Tangen’s keynote revolved around the question of how to prepare for the defining moments in history. According to him, there are four essential elements of preparing for these moments: grit, patience, learnedness (or “dannelse” in Norwegian), and confident humility.

“We all love the idea of talent, but I don’t believe in that. Instead, I believe in grit,” Tangen said.

Learning is a life-long process, and it takes patience to reach one’s goals – both of which Tangen sees as important ingredients in life. Yet, many students feel a lot of stress about getting their degrees already in their early twenties. Tangen’s rather nonconformist advice to young people is to not have such a hurry to find their dream job and instead enjoy the freedom of youth.

“Expand your knowledge and skills through reading, watching art, going to the theatre, traveling. Never save any money – blow your student loan!”

The reputation of finance and business world is a harsh one, but Nicolai Tangen calls for a more balanced approach. Tearing down silos and shifting from bureaucracy to humanocracy drives a more transparent and open culture. Hiring people from different backgrounds and with different skill sets is also key in striving towards more sustainable businesses.

“Diversity needs to be in the DNA of a company,” Tangen said.

“It can’t be delegated to HR.”

Tangen’s definition of leadership in defining moments means that sometimes it is necessary to take a step back and let the people in the organisation show their expertise. In the end, leadership is mostly about engaging with people, working together and building confidence.

“The most defining moments are not personal. Even Nobel prizes are won by teams nowadays.”

The Saastamoinen Foundation Keynote Lecture Series invites experts from different fields to share their learnings and talk about current issues and themes. The lectures are organized together with the foundation’s partners, such as Aalto EE. Saastamoinen Foundation and Aalto EE also collaborate on a new Business of Culture programme, which aims to increase and develop the understanding of creative professionals on how to renew organizations with efficient leadership and business acumen.

 The atmosphere of the event is shared with you via a short video. 

Photo: Nicolai Tangen
Photos by: Olli-Pekka Orpo