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Espen Aahjem, the explorer

Espen Aahjem, the explorer

In his first week at Beerenberg Espen was given a piece of advice by a colleague which would prove essential in his role as supply chain category manager. Espen the explorer is genuinely interested in delving into large quantities of data and using his analytical skills to solve challenges.

In tough competition with three other strong candidates he was named winner of the “explorer” category in the Beerenberg Annual Awards talent programme. Read this interview with Espen to hear what that vital advice was!

Why do you think it was you who was given this award, and how would you describe yourself as a colleague?
During my career I’ve been lucky enough to acquire both technical and analytical skills which I frequently put to use in my job. Some of them I learnt while studying in Canada and working on various jobs as a consultant in Denmark and Northern Europe, where they have long taken a slightly different approach to analytics, the need for data and how to use it. I find that there is much more focus on this in Norway now, and that is probably a good thing for me as I already have a degree of experience and knowledge in this field which can be transferred to Beerenberg.

The explorer in me finds it exciting to be challenged on something that I don’t immediately see the answer to and instead have to turn to huge quantities of data and consultations with specialists to find a good solution. When you process data correctly it gives you an insight into the bigger picture to enable us to predict both the scope and cost of products and services.

How did you react when your name was announced as the winner of the category?
It’s awesome to be recognised like this and know that people appreciate me as a colleague and person. It gives me a lot of motivation when we co-operate and show our appreciation for each other. I’m part of business support and like the idea that my contribution can make other people’s lives a bit easier. Change often takes time, but when we work together towards the same goal it really gives you a sense of achievement. I learn a lot from observing established processes, but it’s also fun to view things with a fresh pair of eyes and be able to suggest new solutions. When you’ve been sticking to the same processes over time it often makes you “blind” to what you are doing. Sometimes it only takes minor changes to make things smarter and more efficient.

What’s the most important part of your job you think?
The most important thing is to be able to identify the actual needs of those who request a product or service. Once you know your goal, it’s much easier to stake out the right course. It’s also important to me to have a good network and be conscious of the importance and value of having a good dialogue with the suppliers. They possess a great deal of knowledge and experience and can often be good sparring partners who help us make better decisions and long-term plans.

You also have to be comfortable with a degree of uncertainty. As the world is changing faster than ever before, this obviously affects my job. The cost of raw materials is much higher, and there are major delays in deliveries from all over the world. This makes co-operation and dialogue more important than ever. I have so many talented and experienced colleagues at Beerenberg who are specialists in their fields, including Rune Kårbø, Kåre Synnevåg, Jørgen Hosøy and many others who know their disciplines inside out and have many years’ experience under their belt. I have many questions that need answering, and it’s often in consultation with these people that we identify the best solutions. Nils Halvor Berge told me something important during my first week with the company, which was that “it’s not important to know everything, but you do need to know who does know”. This is essential in my role. Internal and external channels both rely on mutual trust to be able to obtain and share knowledge, that way discovering nuances you hadn’t noticed before.

Family and friends are important

What is the most enjoyable thing about your job?
Definitely when I get the chance to learn something new and when I’m set a real challenge. Some things will always be routine, but too much of that and things get boring.

Kjetil Skreien Stigen is Espen’s line manager and has the following to say about the winner:
During his almost three years with the company Espen has become a valuable resource and an experienced contract manager in the SCM unit. He has a wonderful ability to create dialogue and interaction both internally and externally, and I find that suppliers and partners pay attention when he represents the company with commercial ideas or suggested changes.

When working with other disciplines at Beerenberg he quickly spots opportunities to simplify and improve perceived complex issues. Continual improvement is a gene that we aim to nurture in SCM, and here Espen’s “explorer” role really comes into its own.

Espen often says he wants to learn, and it’s a joy to have such a motivated colleague who is always looking to seek new knowledge. He is helpful and helps lift the team with his specialist knowledge, and his capacity just continues to increase. There is clearly a leader in Espen, and who knows, maybe he will become my boss one day!

In his spare time Espen likes exploring new places

Name: Espen Aahjem
Age: 28
Place of work: Kokstad HQ
Employed since: 2019

Interests: I like getting stuck into lots of activities such as mountain-walking, working out and playing golf. I also love travelling and exploring new places with friends, family or my partner.


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