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Martin Fledsberg Vatne

Meet Martin Fledsberg Vatne - Executive Vice President (EVP) for Strategy and Business Development at Østfold Energi and Executive MBA alum.

You are still working in the same organization and position as you were when enrolling in the SSE MBA Executive Format program. 

Yes, I am still working as EVP Strategy and Business Development in Østfold Energi in Norway. This is the same role I had when entering the program, although I have expanded the role's content substantially through starting and scaling up new ventures since I enrolled in the Executive MBA at SSE. As a consequence we have grown from a traditional hydro producer to a broader energy group of companies that have engaged in several new markets and technologies.

What was the reason for studying an Executive MBA and were the expectations met?

The reason I wanted to take the Executive MBA program at SSE was to learn more within finance, sustainability and innovation, expand my professional network in Sweden and develop myself further. I would go so far to say that the Executive MBA at SSE exceeded all my expectations!

What has been your personal experience and gain from the program?

My personal experience has been great. Although we started out in Covid lock down - the learning weeks worked really well. Personally, the program expanded my toolbox and enriched my existing mental models on how business works. Looking back it has broadened my sphere of influence and understanding, as I now can more easily understand, negotiate and discuss technical matters in depth across finance, legal and economics. This has been extremely useful taking on the chairman of the board role in several new start-ups, and becoming more engaged across domains in our executive management team.

What has your employer gained from your studies?

Beside a more motivated, effective and engaged employee, my employer has gained a lot of new insights and ideas - as I used cases and opportunities from our business as cases in almost all the classes. For instance Østfold Energy got a study on the possibility of doing a market entry into Sweden for one of our norwegian startups, the pitch material and commercialization plan for starting a JV in Sweden another start-up, a objective diagnose on the cultural challenges related to our digitization efforts,  and a review on the sustainability impact of our existing hydro business. The quality was actually so good that the deliverables were considered as "free" consultancy.

How have you used and applied theories and models teached in the SSE MBA?

The most obvious use is that I updated our internal business development processes based on the models from the MBA, including both the rapid learning cycles and the lean start up. My department liked them and we still see its power in our daily work. In addition I have used the WACC and valuation models in several investments and financing discussions, and actually several of the strategy and management of change models in our strategy work.

In what ways, have your peers in the class affected your growth, learnings, and other aspects?Are you still in contact with your classmates?

I would say that the discussions with my peers in class were a vital part of the learning experience. Getting tangible experiences from peers in different industries and countries on key challenges within the different classes really broadened my understanding. Being part of a group of high performers as our class was extremely fun. We all were engaged and eager to get acquainted. We came together quickly as friends and had a hard core social element in all our learning weeks. The saying was - hero at night - hero at day! Since our graduation in September 2022 we have kept in touch. We still have our signal groups and have had joint trips to Las Vegas, Cape Town, Stockholm and Barcelona so far. We are now discussing where we should go next year.

What would be your advice to an organization considering financing this kind of studies to one of their employees? What factors should they consider to make the best possible use of the program?

My advice would be to make sure your employer is truly motivated and sees how this new bulk of knowledge can help her or him in their career within your company. Secondly, I would advise you to try to get as many cases and issues as possible from your organization into the different assignments. I would also advise to make sure you create an arena where she or he can present results and learnings back to the organization and that you make sure that she or he gets enough time for studies and exams on top of the daily operations.