Inspiring Women, no 4: Elin Hurvenes salutes a Norwegian woman whose career in shipping has broken barriers for women in business...
From INTELLIGENT LIFE magazine, special supplement
Elin Hurvenes (left) is the founder of Professional Boards Forum, an organisation based in Oslo and London that campaigns for company boards to include more women. Elisabeth Grieg (b. 1959) is chief executive of the Grieg Group, a shipping and fish-farming company based in Bergen.
Elisabeth Grieg was born into a Norwegian shipping family and could have chosen an easy life. Instead she became a shipping magnate herself, and recently broke down a barrier by becoming the first woman president of the Norwegian Shipowners’ Association. She has shown relentless energy not just in the day job, but in becoming a non-executive director of several other companies, and doing a lot of charitable work—she helped set up the Grieg Foundation, which raises money for SOS Children’s Villages.
I had never met Elisabeth when I asked her to be a keynote speaker at one of the first Professional Boards Forums I hosted in Norway. She had never heard of me, yet she immediately agreed to support my venture. At the event she was brilliant—open and honest and to-the-point. She spoke about her own career, and how she had dealt with her own insecurities and the expectations others placed on her. Her background had not always been an asset for her to succeed in business. She said something that has stayed with me ever since: “We all just have to do the best we can from our current platform. You can expand and change your own platform as you go along, but saying ‘if only my circumstances were different’ will hold you back, not help you move forward.”
This struck a chord with many of the women at the Forum. I was inspired by Elisabeth’s attitude and matter-of-fact approach. It was a good “get-up-and-go” call, which I have referred back to many times as I’ve expanded my own business.
Photograph Peter Searle
Read more from the Inspiring Women series: