Updated: May 10
Christian Chramer, CEO of the Norwegian Seafood Council Reflecting on an immersive first six-months and projections for a busy and ambitious future
Being a CEO brings both its trials and tribulations. Christian Charmer, CEO of the Norwegian Seafood Council, reflects on the first six months in his new role.
The Norwegian Seafood Council (NSC) works together with the Norwegian fisheries and aquaculture industry to develop markets for Norwegian seafood. The aim of the organisation is to increase the value of Norwegian seafood resources, through market insights, market development, market risk management and reputational risk management in select markets around the world.
Last year, by unanimous decision, the board of the Norwegian Seafood Council appointed Christian Chramer as CEO and he has been at the helm since October. The first six months bedding in as a CEO is a very important period for both the individual and the business, as it’s these crucial few months that set the tone for your tenure and potentially impact your effectiveness as a leader. It is the time when you really get to know an organisation, and, in turn, they get to know you.
Where it all started
Christian served for 13 years in the Norwegian Army and achieved a Master’s in ‘Management and Organisation’ from the University of Tromsø (UiT) – Norway’s Artic University. He now also lives in Tromsø with his wife two sons aged 18 and 22.
Christian brings extensive experience from the Confederation of Norwegian Enterprise (NHO) system, having been in a variety of director roles for the past seven years. Now he returns to the Norwegian Seafood Council, where he has previously enjoyed roles as communications director and fisheries envoy in Southeast Asia.
Chramer says: “I am very proud of the trust from the board and looking forward to leading from the helm to drive forward the strategic vision of the Norwegian Seafood Council.
“I am lucky to be surrounded by skilled colleagues in the Seafood Council and the companies working in one of Norway’s most important export industries. Our goal is to further develop the strong position that Norwegian seafood has globally, by ensuring that our growing world population continues to open its eyes to healthy and sustainable seafood.”
What does the role entail?
Chramer describes the role as “Classic CEO-responsibility”. Running the company day-today, leading a management group and ensuring the business is on track to achieve its mission and goals. At the same time, he is keen to develop the NSC to be the best possible tool for the industry; a champion for Norwegian seafood and a “fish-fluencer” in all situations. He says:
“I am so passionate about the industry and really want to make a difference. We are working to strengthen Norway’s second largest export industry (after oil & gas) and to be given the opportunity to work with companies, leaders and employees across the country, and with the world as a marketplace is a real privilege.”
Preparation is key
Christian found it important to get out and about in Norway, interacting with stakeholders within various parts of the Norwegian seafood industry, organisations, interest groups, governmental organisations and ministries ahead of starting as CEO. He created a six-month plan focused on Norway. First internally on the organisation; employees, board, and formal industry forums, then on the industry in Norway, before moving on to the rest of the world and offices abroad.
“Listening to employees, who are at the heart of what we do, is so important. I wanted to meet everyone personally for a thirty-minute planned conversation, ensured we had town hall meetings every second week to improve internal communications and weekly newsletters to all employees to update them on business developments. This was all important to me and followed the Edelman Trust Barometer: the trust is linked to the CEO, and one must be transparent, sharing and including.”
Navigating challenging waters
Christian anticipated the industry’s acceptance of the role would be a challenge, however, this has not been the case at all, and he has found that the demand for NSC’s service is even bigger than ever. Recent reports show that it is in fact increasing and very positive.
He says: “With a rapidly changing market situation, consumer behaviour, trade flow, competition and so forth, the role for the NSC has become clearer for the industry as a whole and the individual company.
“The pandemic has brought us together and the challenging times we now live in keeps us together. At the same time, we are a more customer-oriented company with a more focused mission to create value for our Norwegian stakeholders, whether it is the companies, the organisations, or the government.
“The biggest challenges will always be how to spend our time the best possible way. To give the right areas the required level of attention, leading through example, creating space for others, and building a larger podium for the Norwegian seafood and our seafood industry.
“I always expected it to be great fun, and so far, it has exceeded my expectations. The industry is in such rapid change with focus on sustainability, consumers, product development, market development, marketing, and trends. I personally need to reconnect with former contacts as well as establish new ones.”
Achievements to be proud of
Having been in the role just six months, Christian is proud to have made the Top 100 list from Intrafish.com, which lists the most influential executives in the global seafood industry. He feels a strong acceptance from the Norwegian industry for both NSC and his new role and aims to build a stronger ‘personal brand’ to represent Norwegian seafood internationally.
Chramer says that: “The best part of the job is to be working with something of such great importance for our nation. It makes you feel like you are playing on the national team!
“In addition, I get to bring Norwegian seafood to tables around the world where it’s combined with local spices, vegetables and recipes.
“We experienced a record year in 2022 – Plus 25% value growth in exports to 151,4 billion NOK. Four Norwegian seafood companies are recognised on the international CollerFAIRR Index of the world’s most sustainable protein producers, which we are looking at developing further and expanding.”
Norway and the UK have a long-standing seafood partnership, with Norway currently the largest supplier of seafood to the UK by far. Chramer is hoping through NSC’s activities in the market to help develop this bond even further. Chramer recently took part in the Norway – UK Seafood Summit which saw almost 200 delegates from across the industry come together for an insightful day of market updates, industry sharing and networking.
The event, which is firmly cementing itself as an important date in industry calendars, led with bilateral updates from the Norwegian Minister for Fisheries and Ocean Policy, Bjørnar Selnes Skjæran, and the UK Minister for Food, Farming and Fisheries, Rt Hon Mark Spencer, on how the two countries are working together, with joint efforts to further strengthen and develop seafood trade and relations – particularly with sustainability in mind.
Chramer, said: “The job our two nations do together is more important than ever. To cooperate, to share insight and to help businesses manoeuvre in uncertain times and rough seas is key to the future of the industry.
“Norway and the UK have a shared agenda when it comes to seafood. Both countries are proud ocean and seafood nations, and we share the need to work together to make sure that our seafood is farmed and caught sustainably so that it is delivered to the market in the best possible way, meeting the consumers demands and needs.
“As this demand evolves, it’s essential we stay innovative, knowledgeable and insight driven – working together to put seafood on the people’s plates that we’re proud of.”
The NSC is ambitious and plans on building on their strong foundations by improving their position as a tool for Norwegian companies and continuing to develop to meet future demands and possibilities.
However, Chramer says that: “Keeping an open eye for the quick changes and the still undetected challenges in our rapidly changing world” is a challenge. In the short-term, Christian plans to meet up with employees outside of Norway in their territories and help to support them in their role to spearhead Norwegian seafood, making sure that seafood exports from Norway are given the prominent political priority it deserves. He plans to visit Singapore, China, Japan, Poland, Germany and Thailand in Q2 2023 to further secure business in these areas.
And if other players from the Norwegian industry fancies a talk, Chramer and the Norwegian Seafood Council won’t be hard to reach.