Norway’s most high-profile female executive, Berit Svendsen, has swapped one state controlled company for another. After feeling compelled to resign from Telenor last month she’s now accepted responsibility for building up the new Vipps electronic payment system, which was launched by Norway’s biggest bank DNB.
“Vipps is a little Norwegian pearl that can be a big international pearl, and that’s what I can contribute to,” Svendsen told newspaper DN after her new job was announced late last week. “I’m heading into this new job with great enthusiasm, and I didn’t need much time to make up my mind.”
Svendsen’s enthusiasm for the job was shared by Vipps’ chief executive Rune Garborg. “I couldn’t have dreamed about finding a better leader for the team,” Garborg stated in a press release from the company. “Svendsen is also an experienced technolog with solid knowledge about digital leadership. I’m even more certain we’ll succeed with this (Vipps) now that she has chosen to join the Vipps journey.”
Svendsen, whose resignation from Telenor made headlines and raised more concerns about the lack of women in top management, had said she’d had lots of exciting job offers in the past few weeks. She chose Vipps just after making her first public appearance, speaking on opportunities to develop services among connectable devices at a conference hosted by DNB, which is 34 percent owns by the state and where she also sits on its board of director. She had told DN just last Thursday that she’d also received an offer while at the DNB event. The next day Vipps announced she’d become part of its top management group.
Vipps, which began as DNB’s venture into electronic payment solutions, recently merged with BankID and BankAxept. It now ranks as the largest player within payment and identification systems in the Nordic countries and currently has 145 employees.
That’s much smaller than the more than 3,000 employees at Telenor, but that doesn’t bother Svendsen. “I want to have fun,” she told DN. “This is very exciting. There are so many small- and medium-sized companies in Norway that I think have a possibility of becoming big.” Vipps, poised for European exansion and beyond, is among those on her list.