We would like you to meet the people behind NBCC who contribute their knowledge and experience to make our chamber even better. Please meet Rune Nilsen Jr., a council member and one of the people we rely on to help us achieve this. Rune Nilsen is the head of corporate banking at DNB London. 


Hi Rune! Thank you for making time for this interview. Could you say a few words about yourself?

Thank you! I’m not sure if there’s much to say, but I was born in the most Northern city in the world, Hammerfest. However, I’ve also spent a fair share of my time abroad. For 15 years I’ve worked for DNB and for nine of them I have worked internationally. First, I began in Santiago in Chile where I worked with our seafood portfolio, and after that I moved to New York for three years where I was responsible for the North America Seafood Portfolio. Now I’m in London on my third international stay and working as the head of corporate banking covering industries such as Telecom, Healthcare, Service and Private Equity.


You must have experienced a lot! Why did you get drawn to DNB and seafood?

Seafood has always been a part of my own and Norway’s history and culture. Already as a child I had my own seafood venture. Seafood is my passion, but I’ve also enjoyed working with numbers, so when I graduated from NHH (Norwegian School of Economics) there was an open position in DNB within the seafood division and it couldn’t have been a better match. 


I think we can safely say we have established that seafood is a passion of yours. What else can be associated with you outside the borders of work? You’ve travelled a lot, do you have a favourite location?

I’ve always found travelling and new cultures interesting. Over the years, I have visited over 60 countries. Despite that, I would say that London is my favourite city. The people and the culture never disappoint. Additionally, there’s a good combination of business and pleasure. While living in New York, I experienced the culture very self-driven and capitalistic. The Nordics have a much more socialistic approach, and in London you get the best from both worlds. 


We cannot disagree with the fact that London is an amazing city to be in! As a person who has worked in many different countries, what are the most critical factors for companies trying to establish themselves abroad successfully?

Understanding the culture of a country is essential for any company trying to expand into new markets! It is vital to build a comprehensive network in your new location. If you want to do business internationally you need to understand the culture and how it affects the way of doing business. Without business acumen, it will be hard to integrate and gain the needed trust. 

Wise words! These types of experiences are just one of the reasons we are happy to have you on board in the council. How and why did you get involved with NBCC?

My entrance was natural as DNB is a partner member of NBCC. I was attracted to the opportunity of seeing how Norwegians are operating in the UK. The chamber can offer endless opportunities if you are proactive!


You have already touched on it, but what advantages can NBCC offer as a facilitator of trade between the UK and Norway? 

From a DNB perspective, the NBCC offers insight into talent and young professionals eager to succeed in their careers. The start of young professionals is something we at DNB encouraged, and we were happy to participate in their first networking event in March. 

If you’re new in a country, reaching out to NBCC would be a good first touching point for finding information and meeting people. The social aspect of being involved in the chamber is of importance. Our anniversary event in March is a significant example of that, as it was the first face-to-face event after lockdown with over 300 attendees. NBCC is an excellent arena for meeting new people, and you never know what impact one of them could have on your business. 


What are your thoughts on the relationship between Norway and the UK going forward? What could be improved? 

Historically, we’ve always had a solid relationship with the UK. They’ve always been our no.1 trading partner. In difficult times both parties have reached out their hands to help, the second world war being one great example. This has led to a strong relationship which needs to be maintained. The world is in an uncertain place with difficulties such as supply chain disruption and geopolitical issues. It is therefore crucial to build on what we have, as building relationships on trade and sharing “know-how” will be even more important going forward. 

In terms of improvement, it has become more difficult to move people across borders due to Brexit. The trade is in place, but getting skilled people has proved more time consuming. Remote working has been beneficial when employees aren’t as moveable as pre-covid, however culturally you need to build face-to-face relationships and not rely only on a screen. 


There are undeniably many factors that companies need to take into account today. How has your team embraced the current topics such as energy transition and shortage, in addition to the geopolitical challenges?

Well, they are intertwined, and DNB has them all on the radar as they are all equally important. For us, they are risk factors being constantly evaluated. The biggest uncertainty today is the geopolitical situation in Europe. We hope we can contribute and help to ease the problem by promote sustainable activities, solutions, investments and innovation making it less difficult to finance among others green sustainable projects. If we can make the green shift, many of the reasons for instability in Europe – such as the energy crisis – would be reduced. DNB’s ambition is to finance, invest and facilitate NOK 1 500 billion in green and sustainable activities globally. That’s something we will continue working on in the best possible way, together with our customers and the capital market. 


It has been a pleasure talking with you Rune, and thank you for giving our members and followers a chance to get to know you better!