Olaug Svarva is an MBA graduate of the University of Denver Daniels College of Business in the US and the managing director of Folketrygdfondet, which manages the Government Pension Fund Norway and the Government Bond Fund on behalf of the Norwegian Ministry of Finance.
In 2009, Ms Svarva co-founded the Norwegian Institute of Directors, of which she is a board member. In her spare time she enjoys cross-country skiing, hiking, running and the theatre.
1. Why did you choose to do an MBA?
I had been an exchange student in the US during high school and I liked it so much that I wanted to go back to the US to study. Studying business was the natural choice for me, coming from an entrepreneurial family.
2. What academic achievement are you most proud of?
Being chosen to become a member of The International Honor Society Beta Gamma Sigma, which recognises achievement in the study of business.
3. What is your biggest lesson learnt?
To succeed in investment management you obviously need to find good investments, a process that entails taking risks. However, I have learnt to be aware of the risks that we take on. There are complex issues related to the balance between acceptable risk and reward and one must constantly strive for an equilibrium.
4. What is the best piece of advice given to you by a teacher?
If an investment seems too good to be true, it probably is.
5. What would you do if you were dean of a business school for the day?
Invite leaders and role models with valuable practical experience to complement and build upon the more theoretical teaching students receive. They can tell the students about challenges, opportunities and how to handle dilemmas from the real world.
6. What is the worst job you have ever had?
Selling out a company and making qualified people redundant.
7. What advice would you give to women in business education?
To work hard is always important, but you also need to work smart, ie be result-oriented. Don’t be afraid of taking on challenges and do find yourself a good boss who works in a strategically important part of the organisation.
8. How do you deal with male-dominated environments?
By being myself and not making an issue out of it. It’s all about doing a good job and being result-oriented.
9. Where would be your favourite place to study?
An academy in the mountains.
10. What are your future plans?
My plan is to always do a good job. In order to be listened to, you do need to show results. That is always the bottom line.