Orkla is an investment holding company with interests in various Norwegian homegrown businesses including REC. During the visit, Mr. Geir Aarseth shared with the BSM group the history behind Orkla and the major milestones since its establishment as a copper and mining company 355 years ago. The group also learnt about the business functions of Orkla’s subsidiaries and the lean management style in Orkla with employees usually involved in decision-making processes. In sharing Orkla’s vision to grow, Mr. Aarseth shared how a former Orkla CEO once set a mental goal for Orkla to reach by benchmarking the company against the likes of Procter and Gamble and Unilever. The BSM group also learnt about the cultural differences between Orkla and Carlsberg which led to the eventual divestment of Carlsberg by Orkla. Though Orkla made substantial gains through the divestment, Mr. Aarseth expressed disappointment in the misunderstanding between both parties that led to the divestment.
Ms. Ellen Behrens, VP of Corporate Responsibility, then gave the group a presentation on the Orkla’s CSR activities. Some of them were:
- Avoiding harm to employees which was best exemplified by Elkem Brazil being accident free for the past 11 years
- Preventing corruption and unethical business practices
- Addressing social issues related to Orkla’s products or businesses. An example given for this action was on how Orkla markets its confectioneries and raise health awareness to certain target segments (eg. children, obese people, diabetics, etc)