Norway’s largest bank, DNB, has tapped its chief financial officer to become its chief executive. Kjerstin Braathen, who’s worked for DNB for 20 years, vows to maintain the bank’s dominant position after taking over the helm from a retiring Rune Bjerke.
“Kjerstin has all the qualifications to do a better job than me,” said Bjerke, who has improved profitability at DNB to a degree that some customers have complained it’s come at their expense. Braathen was quick to claim on Thursday that she intends to do everything possible to continue creating new products and services for DNB’s customers, in an effort to hang on to them at a time of “incredibly fast” technological and competitive change.
Braathen. age 48, has been finance director at DNB since 2017, and was head of the division serving business customers for four years before that. She joined DNB in 1999, working as an analyst in its shipping and offshore division.
The native of Lillestrøm north of Oslo has a master’s degree in management and began her career at Norsk Hydro in 1995. She’ve viewed as a popular choice as chief executive within the bank, where applause broke out when the leader of DNB’s board, Olaug Svarva, announced Braathen’s appointment.
“DNB has a big place in my life and my heart,” Braathen said at a press conference Thursday morning. “I have a burning engagement for our customers and am extremely proud of the more than 10,000 employees who work hard every day. Taking over as chief executive is a great privilege.”
Svarva said that Bjerke, age 58, had told board members last winter that it was time for them to start looking for his replacement. After 13 years as CEO of the bank that still has the Norwegian government as its biggest shareholder, Bjerke thought it was time to turn over the baton, as he put it: “It’s time for a change, it’s just that simple.”
He and Braathen have worked closely together for the past several years, adding that the transition from his administration to hers should be “smooth, planned and thorough.” Braathen will take over from September 1, while Bjerke will stay on to oversee the boards of DNB’s subsidiaries Vipss and Fremtind until next summer,