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Courage to lead

As a leader, courage and curiosity are her top priorities. Among her many merits, Kristin H. Holth, DNB’s global head of ocean industries, has been named the world's most influential person within shipping finance.


Position: Executive Vice President

Employer: DNB

Senior executives are responsible for focusing on all kinds of diversity, including gender differences.

When DNB decided to strengthen its position within ocean industries last year, they gathered shipping, offshore, logistics, oil, gas and fish all in one division, and they made Kristin H. Holth head of the team. In addition to many years of experience within shipping and offshore, Holth was named the world’s most influential person within shipping finance in 2014 by the British Lloyd’s.

“Shipping and ocean industry are sectors with strong global competition, our deliveries must meet stringent requirements. I like working in an environment that demands a lot from me,” says Holth.

Courageous leadership

The DNB executive has spent many years as top executive. She believes that courage is one of the most important qualities of a good manager.

The courage to make changes, to lead by example when necessary and to support what you believe in. For example, to increase the diversity in management groups.

“Management positions in the finance industry are still dominated by men. I see no reason why it should be this way,” says Holth.

Because there is no lack of female talent in the finance industry, according to the DNB executive. What is lacking is the imagination and confidence among managers to make choices outside their comfort zone.

“Sheryl Sandberg, CEO of Facebook, has written a lot about the challenges as a female executive. In her book “Lean In”, Sandberg writes about the term ‘jungle gym’, which is about how your career doesn’t always have to be on a straight upward trajectory. Like a monkey, you can jump up, down and to the side. It is about being open to seizing opportunities when they arise.”

Top executive responsibility

Holth believes steady management is needed in order to change the preconditions for women and men in working life. As for herself, the DNB executive looks for skilled, female talents in her own organisation.

“It’s about pushing them further, motivating them to broaden their skillset.”

She adds:

“Senior executives are responsible for focusing on all kinds of diversity, including gender differences. In order to succeed, I believe we must be more systematic in how we work with the challenges. It is about being aware of recruitment, how to hang on to talents and how to motivate further development. The latter is probably the hardest.”

The DNB executive believes that one of the keys to this is allowing employees to feel a sense of accomplishment.

“Some days or tasks might be more challenging than we like. You have a “pit in your stomach” in relation to whether you can handle what you are facing, but how wonderful it is when you do. We all need that feeling of accomplishment to grow, and it is important that managers let employees feel this.”


As for herself, Holth has built her career step by step. The foundation was laid with her economics studies at BI. She describes herself as curious and analytical.

When she was hired by Bergen Bank as a recently graduated economist, her manager Anne Øian became particularly important for Holth’s career.

“She was skilled, bold and paved the way. Knew that everything was possible.”

Now that Holth herself is a manager, she spends a lot of time motivating employees to go further with their work.

“Producing good employees is a significant management task. As a manager, you are not just delivering a bottom line, but building the organisation and finding talents.”

According to the DNB executive, all managers should be aware that they are being observed as managers, regardless of whether or not they like it. They have to lead the way and inspire, also on the tough days.