Our history

Leif Frode Onarheim - Restructuring

Leif Frode Onarheim became BI’s President in 1993. Onarheim represented the contact with business and industry, with his background from the Nora group and as vice-president of the Confederation of Norwegian Enterprise (NHO). Onarheim took BI into a consolidation period that was characterised by structuring and systematisation.

The doctorate programme was established during this period and the Master of Management study programme was officially approved. Onarheim strengthened BI’s contact with businesses, while boosting BI’s standing in political circles. Onarheim later became president of NHO and a member of parliament for the Conservative Party (Høyre).

The 1990s continued

The first matter that Onarheim had to devote his attention to was sorting out the finances, and the systems at BI needed an upgrade. The many mergers conducted under Lorange came at a cost, while the former management had focused more on the structure of the departments and education programmes. Terje Jacobsen was hired as chief financial officer. He knew what was most critical and could make sure that there was a correlation between the profit, balance sheet and liquidity. This resulted in dismissals in the faculty and is referred to as a tough first year, but the financial situation improved after just 1.5 years.

BI’s standing in the political environment was still poor when Onarheim became President. Like Lorange, it was important for Onarheim to use his time as President to build trust in the Storting and in the Ministry. This was particularly clear in connection with the approval of the Master of Management (MM) study programme. A year after BI applied for approval of the MM programmes, we were told that the Norwegian School of Economics (NHH) and Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) could have Master of Management programmes, but BI had to stop. After this decision, Onarheim offered to take Jon Lilletun (Minister of Education, Research and Church Affairs 1997-2000) on a drive to confront him with the issue. Fourteen days later, there was a new Royal Decree where BI also received its final approval. Lilletun became a good advocate for BI, and BI’s management was highly dependent on having an open and good relationship with him in order to obtain these approvals.

The divide between the public and private sector in an education context is in the process of becoming less pronounced as the 1990s progress. BI is now performing research assignments for both State-owned and private entities. In the education, there are separate study programmes in the private and public sector for the MBA programme and Master of Management. The public sector is increasingly becoming a market for the services that BI provides.