Alumni of the week

FROM JOURNALIST TO VICE PRESIDENT

Kristina Frisvold Nilsen


Vice President

Retriever

Executive Master of Management

“Really, we were a small David against Goliath.”

The VP of Retriever Group enjoys it when she is able to make her colleagues be as committed to the craft as she is. That is when work becomes «terribly fun» for Kristina Fritsvold Nilsen.

‒ I don’t believe in the notion that a leader could be a leader anywhere. I doubt I would do as good a job in Kid Interiør or H&M, says Nilsen.

Her employer’s bread and butter is sifting through local newspapers, radio, tv and online news to help companies monitor and keep track of their media mentions. After ten years with the company, the former NRK-journalist believes she becomes a better leader by having a solid understanding of the craft and business they are in.

‒ You have a completely different way of talking to your people. Building relations is also about getting involved and seeing your co-workers. That is when it helps to understand what they are doing.

After several years as a journalist, it was not until after working in a PR agency she discovered her interest in working in the intersection between the editorial and commercial side of things.

‒ In the past, there was arguably almost no attention paid to the commercial aspect in journalism school. I had never read anything about accounting or gained an understanding of how income is generated in a company.

When Retriever needed someone to establish and develop media analysis as a new business area, she was hooked. The position as Head of Analysis became hers and a decade later she can look back on a rare success story.

‒ My ambition was that maybe we could hire a few people and become our own little environment. Really, we were a small David against Goliath. Now, we are fifty media analysts and 200 employees in total.

Under the leadership of Nilsen, Retriever became the market-leader in the media analysis industry. Along the way, they saw competitors go bankrupt and others completely withdrawing from the Scandinavian market.

‒ I did not see it coming. There was a moment when it just hit me that «we can just capture this market, make it bigger, think different and change the business».

When she was promoted to Vice President of Retriever Group in 2017, it was only natural that media analysis became one of her strategic responsibilities, along with customer support and marketing. Now, she oversees and visits the company’s Nordic offices on a weekly basis.

A few years prior, she completed her Executive Master of Management at BI. Nilsen thinks her executive education was crucial to her at that point of her career. Her structured approach even led to her being recognised as the best student in her class.

‒ It was a eureka moment for me, studying was just amazing. That award was never a goal or something I even knew existed beforehand, but I was very motivated by the fact that I did so well in my first year. That is when grades suddenly became an ambition.

As a VP, a major focus area of hers has been competence building, something which the company also has been working on for years. Nilsen thinks companies can kill several birds with one stone when making the effort to develop competence internally.

‒ Using the craft to inspire others benefits the employer. Getting involved in you co-workers’ jobs, instead of just giving them a pat on the back, is something I genuinely believe in. To me, that is actual leadership.

PS! Recently it was announced that Kristina Nilsen has been hired as the new CEO of newspaper Romerikes Blad, and as Regional Director of Amedia’s additional media groups in Romerike and Innlandet. She will take up the position September 1, 2018.