Norwegian students at the Thai-Scandinavian Chambers

The Thai-Scandinavian Chamber’s office in Bangkok has entered an agreement to be reinforced with two Norwegian post-graduate students, Aud Kamilla Sivertsen and Terje Gilleshammer, who will work at the Chamber for one full year. Both are originally from Nordfjord in the western part of Norway, but while Terje has studied Export Marketing at the University College in Aalesund, Kamilla has studied Marketing and Internationalization at Hedmark University College in Aamot in the Eastern part of Norway.

When the formalities regarding their internship at the Chambers’ office are finalized with the Thai authorities, Kamilla will be handling the media of the Chambers, both digital and printed, as well as working with the program activities of each chamber. Terje will instead handle memberships, including visiting of new members, and attend the Board Meetings where he will among others be taking Minutes.

Like their predecessor, Niels Lauritzen from Denmark, the two volunteers are financed not from the Chambers’ office but from various institutions in Norway.

Taking an internship abroad is a trend in Norway which aims at internationalizing Norwegian companies to better prepare them for the global marketplace of the future.

“There are a lot of government support for this kind of activity, which also the Norwegian companies here in Thailand could benefit from if they knew where and how to apply,” says Terje.

“Companies in Norway are often based in a small community but have managed to create a market world wide – like Hjellegjerde. It is important for these companies that their future leaders have experience from overseas, so the companies very much support these internationalization efforts,” he adds.

Neither of them looks like the typically blond Norwegian. Kamilla has short dark red hair and deep blue eyes while Terje has dark hair and brown eyes and could easily pass as a half Thai – half Norwegian – which he is, however, not.

The challenge for the companies and the Norwegian government is to prevent the young people from settling down overseas but rather come back and work in Norwegian businesses. Although there are no contractual obligations attached to their overseas internship, both Kamilla and Terje will write reports on their term in Thailand and both will during their stay have to go home and conduct a presentation on their experiences abroad for other students considering an overseas internship.

“We have very big companies not least in the seafood industry, which are not just relying on students like us to come back, they have already today managed to attract people from many countries who work for them today. Norway is getting more and more dependant on international trade,” Kamilla adds.

Neither of them has very specific expectations as to what the experience at the Chambers’ office will bring.

“We are here to learn. We should not create too high expectations while on the other hand I hope the expectations will be high enough for us to stretch ourselves to live up to them,” Terje says.

Kamilla adds, that not least the interaction within the office is in itself a challenge.

“It is a challenge for an office as small as this suddenly to grow from three people to five. Now we can share the workload between us, organize the tasks more, which has not been possible before.”

This is a point of view shared by the Chambers’ Executive Director John Svengren.

“We have a different situation here, than we had with Niels Lauritzen, because we have now two trainees here, which should enable us to take the Chambers a bit further than during his internship,” John Svengren says, adding that although it is of course a benefit that the two work for the Chamber without pay, this is not the main point.

“The level of ambition in the three Chambers is constantly rising and we have to cope with this together. The three websites will all become much more active, we have an interesting development with our printed media, where a lot of efforts are needed, we are looking to improve the program activities in all three Chambers and we are looking at the membership area – both in terms of servicing our current members and provide meaningful substance in being a member as well as in terms of being more pro-active in identifying and approaching new members,” he says.

“It is a good opportunity and a very positive development for the Chambers!”

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