Jan joined HitecVision in 2021 from listed renewables firm Scatec ASA, where he was Vice President Project Development as well as being Country Manager for Vietnam. He thus brought extensive knowledge and experience from the global renewable energy sector to the HitecVision team.
Given his curiosity and desire to make an impact, joining HitecVision was a natural step for Jan. Already during his high school years, his curiosity and need to explore became apparent as he went as an exchange student to Denver, Colorado for his second year. A seed was sown, so when he was done with high school, the course was set for Toulouse, France and engineering studies at INSA (Institut National des Sciences Appliquées de Toulouse).
– I found INSA attractive for many reasons: I got to learn French, while attending a solid school. The French are strong on engineering, and the course was adapted for non-French students, which fit me well.
The study for the bachelor’s degree at INSA is stipulated to three years, but Jan took a one year sabbatical where he served as political adviser to professor Christine Meyer, at the time Commissioner for Finance, Competition and Government Reform in the city government of Bergen (who later became Director General of the Norwegian Competition Authority).
With his curiosity for political life satisfied for a while, he went back to France to finish his Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering.
MIT and the energy transition
Jan’s next move took him to Boston and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).
– The energy and the creative urge at a school like MIT is tremendous, Jan recollects.
– It was an incredible place to be, and to be part of such an environment was really cool! People there are so unpretentious and what matters is what you do and not where you come from.
During his time at MIT, he spent two years as a research assistant at MIT Energy Initiative, the center founded by Dr. Ernest Moniz, better known as President Obama’s energy adviser and US Secretary of Energy.
– The broader theme at the center was about the energy transition; how to get from a world dependent on fossil fuels to one based on renewables. I worked a lot with carbon capture, he tells. Jan was also on the board of MIT’s Energy Conference.
– Being part of the broader renewables community at MIT was great exposure and also created useful networks.
After two exciting years in Boston, he left with an MSc from the Technology & Policy program at MIT, asking himself: «What’s next?»
McKinsey and Scatec
The answer to his question was found in Norway’s capital, as he joined McKinsey & Co.
– I worked for almost three years in their Oslo office, mostly within renewables. It was interesting, but at some point I realized that I wanted to actually do something myself, rather than merely advising those who do. The world is changed by doers, not by consultants!
With that attitude, it came as no surprise when he changed his working address to Scatec ASA.
– We were building solar parks in emerging markets, in my opinion the most interesting job in Norway at the time for those who wanted to make an impact. And I got to dip my toes in the pool that is the renewables market of South East Asia, he enthusiastically shares.
He started out as an analyst in 2016, but from 2019 he was promoted to Vice President Project Development and Country Manager Vietnam, planning, setting up and organizing projects primarily within solar power but later also hydro power plants and both on- and offshore wind developments across Malaysia, Vietnam and the Philippines. He enjoyed the region so much, he decided to move there.
– In March 2020, my family and I were ready to go to Vietnam: An apartment was rented and ready, the plane tickets were bought, suitcases packed. We were scheduled to leave in the afternoon of March 12; Ho Chi Minh city next … That was the day when Norway closed down due to the pandemic.
With the move to Vietnam scuppered Jan and his family had to think again, and nine months later, during the Christmas holidays, they decided that it was time for another move, professionally and geographically. The South East Asia move would not happen, and he needed a new challenge, one that fit his need to make an impact. And the very next month, in January 2021, he was offered a position as partner in HitecVision.
– The task was to build energy companies in the Nordic sector, which for me is more of a mission than a job. I already knew HitecVision through a friend, so this was the natural step for me. It was not a difficult decision to make, he smiles.
Today he is well established back in his native Stavanger region, a father of two, building a new house and combining family life with his new job. He is where he is supposed to be: Amongst the doers.