Aiming to be Europe’s biggest with the aid of an interim manager

The CEO of Oslofjord Convention Center, Stian Fuglset, has some big, hairy audacious goals for the company. This conference hotel is to become the biggest in Europe and sales are to more than double. To formulate the strategy, he brought in an interim manager. And it proved to be a profitable investment.

We rang Stian Fuglset, busy but ready for the day, in his car. He told us a bit more about the business, the expansion plans and why he chose to hire an interim manager:

“The reason customers choose Oslofjord Convention Center is that they pretty much get the keys to a whole convention city. They can do everything in one place here, because we have accommodation, catering and access to the biggest conference hall in the country. Now we are expanding, with 1,600 new hotel suites and extended conference facilities, so that we will be able to take many more customers from 2020 onward,” explains Fuglset.

BHAGs and strategic choices

Fuglset was appointed to run Oslofjord Convention Center in 2013, coming from the listed industry and technology company Goodtech ASA. The goals he is working towards at Oslofjord are breathtaking:

“As CEO, it is my responsibility to lead Oslofjord toward new growth. What we are talking about is doubling or trebling our present sales. We could see that we were becoming a hotel business to a much greater extent than before. This gradually triggered the need to develop the hotel business with competence at a senior level, which we saw as both critical and vital. “

Found out about interim management in a newsletter

“I was regularly receiving newsletters from InterimLeder, where I read that interim management could give rapid, flexible access to top-level competence. It was like a light going on. This could be the place to begin.”

Fuglset contacted InterimLeder in spring 2015 and the process was soon in motion

“They were very efficient: after a rough screening of the candidates we were left with four to interview. In fact we could have worked with two of them, but the final candidate was an obvious choice for us.”

An expensive, but profitable and decisive investment

“Investing in an interim manager has been absolutely decisive for our strategic planning. We want to be Europe’s biggest convention hotel, and meeting this ambition in a strategic and systematic way is absolutely decisive. The interim manager has now laid a tremendous foundation for helping us to help ourselves.”

“At the same time, we have staked out a very good path together. Our interim business developer has seen new business opportunities and has documented this in an extremely credible manner. He also very comfortably became part of the environment here, is well liked and works well with everyone. The job he has done has had a tremendous effect. Hiring in an interim manager is very expensive, but as far as I can judge, this has been a profitable investment,” says Fuglset.

Tempted to do it again

“From this experience I would most definitely be tempted to do this again. But we are talking about temporary needs here, because investing in long-term competence is a completely different matter. You hire an interim manager to get executive competence through the door very quickly, perhaps at a much higher level than you have a need for at operational level. But if you are going to make use of this kind of service, then the service provider must have quite a range of prospects available. If the choice is limited and you end up with a 70 per cent match, then this is not appropriate. Interim management is expensive, so it must be right - and in this case it certainly was.”

Oslofjord Convention Center is located in beautiful and peaceful surroundings on the coast between Tønsberg and Stokke. Its customers are typically large Norwegian companies in retailing, banking and finance that wish to do something for their employees in the form of jubilees and campaign and product launches.

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