Mr. International

Being the General Manager of the DnB NOR Bank’s Singapore branch, Erik Borgen is responsible for all the Asian business of DnB NOR. A big responsibility, but Erik Borgen is thriving in Singapore.
         “It is a real break from what I was doing as a manager of a big organization, where everybody but my self was setting my agenda. Out here I have more maneuverability and I can involve myself, says 54 year old Erik Borgen. Banking in Asia is very competitive. Being one of the world’s leading shipping banks, we are very active in Asia and we want to be THE bank for Norwegian and to a certain extent also Nordic business interests in the region,” he says.
         Before coming to Singapore Erik Borgen was working in Oslo as the bank’s head of the corporate division.
         “I was responsible for the bank’s biggest Norwegian industrial clients. Obviously they are international of nature and it has given me a chance to travel round the world and be a part of the DnB NOR’s international network”, he says while ignoring the ringing phone on his desk.
         Erik Borgen has been with the bank for a long time. After having worked a couple of years in the oil industry, doing accounting and auditing on oil projects in the North Sea for Mobil, Erik Borgen joined DnC (Den norske Creditbank) in 1979. DnC was a predecessor to DnB NOR Bank. He has worked for the bank ever since, which due to several mergers has developed. In the 25 years of employment with the bank, Erik Borgen has had several positions. The first position he had dealt with international finance and syndications. Selling loan packages to international and smaller Norwegian banks. Moving on to various managerial positions being in charge of client groups and responsible for corporate clients, but all positions have had one thing in common. They related to the international side of the bank’s activities. 
         “The international side of banking interests me and it happens to be possible for me to do. Living so much abroad I have always had a hang for working with something related to international business,” Erik Borgen says smilingly.
         Except for one year, which he spent in New York, Erik Borgen has been working out of Oslo with the international side of banking. Since august 2004 he has been General Manager of the DnB NOR Bank’s Singapore branch and responsible for the bank’s Asian business.
         “Internationally seen we are size wise a rather small bank, but we have our niches and are in fact one of the largest players in ship finance. That is the biggest part of my business here and next to catering for Norwegian related companies in the area, we are also following the energy industry. We deal in currencies and derivatives trading and we are very customer focused. These are our niches. Until now we have not done any retail or private banking,” Erik Borgen says.
         Erik Borgen is pleased with his job at DnB NOR Bank and he enjoys staying in Singapore with his family.
         “It is so nice to live in a completely different world. Adjusting to a new cultural environment and we try to travel a lot. Weekends at the Bintan Islands in Indonesia, going to Bangkok, Malaysia. We have been to China and we will go there again. Often I try to stay after meetings having the family come and meet me for the weekend.”
         Being son of a Norwegian diplomat Erik Borgen was practically born into the international environment, he appreciates so much.
         “Because of my father’s job, we were dragged around the world like gypsies. Three years abroad and then a couple of years in Norway, before we were moving again,” he says.
         With his family Erik Borgen lived in Norway, Moscow, Argentine and Switzerland.
         “I felt like I did not have any roots because of moving around all the time. But my parents, my two brothers and I led a good life, so we coped very well. So I did not see it as a problem when I had to adapt to living in a new place. I felt it was a challenge adjusting to new schools, finding new friends and learn new languages,” Erik Borgen says smilingly.
         After returning from Switzerland the family stayed in Norway for a couple of years and that was really important to Erik Borgen. He considers the age of 16-20 to be a critical age for making life long friends and he is very pleased that he got to spend some of these years in Norway.
         “In those years I made a lot of friends that I still have today and this compensates for the roots I missed in my childhood,” Erik Borgen says.
         At the age of sixteen, Erik Borgen, in his own words, “has reached an age where I started making my own decisions.” What does a young man do after having lived most of his childhood abroad? Settle down in Norway? Not Erik Borgen.
         He studied at an international college in Wales before graduating a Master of Business and Administration from the St. Gallen Business School.
         But what is home to a man, who has lived in Russia, Argentine, Norway, Wales, Switzerland twice, USA and now Singapore? A man who speaks Norwegian, Scandinavian, German, English, some French and used to speak Spanish?
         “Norway, oh yeah. I have spent most of my grown up life there. That is where my three grown up girls live. I do consider Norway to be my home, but on the other hand, Singapore is our home now, and this is important to me. This is where we live, this is our base. Just living here is a gift, and I would love to stay here for many years to come,” Erik Borgen says smilingly.

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