We would like you to meet the people behind NBCC who contribute their knowledge and experience to make our chamber even better. Please meet Carsten Greve., a council member and one of the people we rely on to help us achieve this. Carsten is a Corporate/M&A partner in the London office of international law firm Dorsey & Whitney.   

 

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

A fun fact is that I have never actually worked in Norway but a lot of my work is with my fantastic Norwegian clients and contacts.  I was born in Norway and as a young child I lived in Germany for a couple of years before we moved back to Norway.  When I was 15 years old, my family moved to the UK and I have been here ever since (as has my family).  

Professionally, I have been an English solicitor for 16 years, and I am a partner in the Corporate/M&A group at Dorsey & Whitney in London.  The law was a natural choice of profession as it had always interested me and I come from a long line of lawyers; however, I actually studied Business Management at Kings College London before converting to law.  The idea was to gain a broader education which I could ultimately use to my advantage as a lawyer.  

As a dad to three boys (11 year old twins and one nearly 8), much of my spare time involves following them around to their various sporting activities.  We are quite an active family and they enjoy sports just as much as I have always done.  I enjoy watching football and I remain a fairly active tennis player (having played a lot in my younger days) and I am a hopefully still improving but forever frustrated golfer.  My days of playing Sunday league football are long behind me but it was fun while it lasted.  I am a life-long Liverpool supporter which has been fun in recent years (at least until last night’s match versus Napoli!) and I am a long-time season ticket holder at Fulham with my brother and my three boys.  Craven Cottage is a fantastic stadium to take your family to – try it if you have not already done so. 

Why and how did you get involved with NBCC? 

As someone who is based in the UK but does a lot of work with Norwegian clients, it was natural to become involved with the NBCC.  Headquartered in Minneapolis, Dorsey has strong Nordic (and especially Norwegian) roots from long before I joined the firm and the firm has been a member of the NBCC (in some capacity) for a very long time.  We became a Partner Member shortly after I joined Dorsey and I took over responsibility for the firm’s Nordic/Norwegian practice.  We have benefitted greatly from our association with the NBCC; primarily through the network of interesting companies and people that we get to meet and have access to through our membership and through my role on the NBCC Council. 

Do you have any thoughts on what advantages NBCC can offer as a facilitator of trade between the UK and Norway? 

Through the great events that the NBCC regularly organises, people are enabled to network across both industries and countries.  NBCC has deep connections with the Norwegian Embassy in London and with most of the biggest Norwegian companies with a UK presence.  When NBCC is able to act as a go-between and introducer or even just as an organiser of events where people meet, relationships are formed between members. There is no doubt that we at Dorsey have greatly benefitted from being a Partner Member of the NBCC over the years.  

The great events hosted by the NBCC, such as the 115th-anniversary event, the NBCC Advisory Board lunches at the Ambassador’s Residence and monthly Nordic Drinks are just a few examples where we have connected with new contacts and increased our knowledge of specific industries and businesses.  It is a great arena for Norwegian companies in need of guidance and advice when looking to expand into the UK. 

I am really looking forward to the trade mission next week where NBCC is an official partner.  

There is nothing we love more than to connect companies and people with each other! What are your thoughts on the relationship between Norway and the UK going forward? Are there any areas in need of improvement?  

We are living in a crucial time at the moment.  The effects of Brexit are becoming clearer and clearer by day and are only intensified by the energy crisis.  The UK is dependent on reaching out to old friends and Norway is one of those.  We have a long history and many similarities in terms of culture, language (Norwegians speak English rather than the other way around!) and ways of doing business. Cooperation rather than protectionism will be key in the coming years.  Looking inward is often an easy solution in times of crisis, but history has shown that protectionism is rarely the answer during difficult times. 

In terms of areas for improvement, Norway will need to adapt to how the UK is changing. We have just got a new government here in the UK, but in two years’ time (or less) there may be a Labour government in charge for the first time in a long while.   I think one of the key things for the relationship between UK and Norway and indeed between Britain and most other European countries will be to find solutions that enable easier movement of people. As the situation is now, I think it has become too difficult for Europeans to move to the UK to work.  Perhaps it was too easy when the UK was a member of the EU but I think a middle ground needs to be found going forward.   

Those are some interesting thoughts! How has your team embraced working from home and flexible working post-COVID? 

Our team at Dorsey London, and it seems everyone generally, adapted better than we had thought when we all had to work from home.  And it is fantastic that the stigma around working from home seems to have largely vanished.  The issue now from our perspective, and especially in London, is to get people to come into the office enough to foster a collaborative culture and provide the training environment that particularly our younger colleagues need in order to develop.  Being supervised via Teams or Zoom is just not the same as sharing an office or an open plan area and learning by observing and being able to continually ask questions of your more experienced colleagues.  

One key difference between Norway and the UK (and in particular London) is that the concept of the commute is very different.  Personally, I normally spend 2-3 hours of my day commuting back and forth to the office when I go into the City and this is of course not at all unusual here in London.  I think you would be hard pushed to find many people in Norway who spend that amount of time every day commuting and so I think getting people to return to the office post-pandemic has, for the most part, been an easier task in Norway than it has been in London (or at least so I am being told by many of my friends in Oslo).   

You could believe it was the other way round, but we can imagine it being a real problem! Lastly, do you have any advice for people who work with Norwegian companies in the UK? 

My main advice for someone working for a Norwegian company in the UK, is to try and visit and spend time at the headquarters in Norway when you can. There is no substitute for spending time in a different country to really learn and understand how business and culture work there.  Immersing yourself in Norwegian culture and understanding how Norwegians like to operate might be one of the most important things you can do if you want to succeed.  Personally, I try and spend as much time as I can visiting clients and contacts in Norway. 

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