In this episode of #LØRN, Silvija chats with Liv Astri Hovem, the CEO of DNV Accelerator, about the shifting supply chain, the reduction of waste in the energy transformation and explains the challenges of going from oil and gas to renewable energy in a world which is becoming more and more digitalized. She also touches on what this means in reality for all of us, like in the healthcare sector, where she explains the value of having a system in place to guarantee that the quality of service remains high, before, during, and after the digitalization process.
With Liv Astri Hovem and Silvija Seres
Velkommen til Lørn.Tech - en læringsdugnad om teknologi og samfunn. Med Silvija Seres og venner.
SS: Hello, and welcome to an Lørn conversation. My name is Silvija Seres, and my guest today is Liv Astri Hovem, CEO of the DNV Accelerator. Welcome, Liv.
LH: Thank you very much, Silvija, very nice to be here with you.
SS: I'm really pleased to have you here. I will say a few words about the series that this is a part of, then we'll get into our conversation. So, this conversation is a part of a series that Lørn is doing with the Norwegian School of Economics, NHH, about digitalization and sustainability as new business models and new strategies. And we are actually structuring This is a six-part series with projects from DMV, Det Norske Veritas where I was on the board, but I'm super impressed by the company as a very innovative company in technology, but also an incredibly socially responsible company and a very sustainability-focused company. I thought that there are six very good very concrete cases of what sustainability and digitalization look like in practice in world-class-leading examples. The conversation with you, I'm also super excited about because I know you from DNV as one of the most accomplished female PNL operational leaders of large divisions, now leading the most innovative part of the corporation. So DNV with its 12,000 employees and operations in 100 countries across the world also carries a 150-year-old tradition of innovation, especially in the maritime sector, but has been very interesting as a knowledge transfer company that took this maritime experience and put it into oil and gas, energy systems, business assurance, and now health, food, and general safety. And two things I would really like to focus on in our conversation Liv. One is your time as the CEO for the oil and gas division in DNV, which is a very important area of innovation for Norway in general as a country because we are very much dependent on all the revenues that the oil sector is creating. Oil and gas, maybe we should say now. At the same time, there is immense opportunity for improvements in efficiency and sustainability and the necessity for knowledge transfer of all the excellent work that we're doing in that area to all the other sectors. So, I'd like to understand with you how you have worked with oil and gas as a business and innovation. And then we are going to talk about the group that you're leading now, which is the Accelerator, which is really a collection of all the really quite big bets that DNV is making on things like cyber security, health, food, and other services that need digital assurance. Sounds, okay?
LH: Yeah, that sounds very, very good. I look forward to discussing with you Silvija.
SS: Very cool, very cool. So, Liv, we'll start actually with you. I always ask people who are you, what are your driving forces, and I have to start our conversation by congratulating you on what's going to happen in about an hour from now, so you have to tell our listeners about that.
LH: Yeah, so I'm fortunate enough to get my first vaccine shot in an hour and that's fantastic. I think we are so fortunate that we get that and it actually allows me to start planning for the summer and autumn. So yeah, super exciting and very grateful.
SS: So, first Liv, tell us.
LH: Who's Liv. That's always the question. Well, I'm an engineer. And I'm a woman, mother of three adults, super fine human beings that have been married to my husband since we were college age. So that's more than a generation ago. Well, we enjoy doing things together in our spare time. And we are Norwegian, so we love going in long-distance skiing, running, biking, playing tennis, it's a lot about sports. But we also enjoy a rich social life. I think I have a fantastic life to be fortunate to live in countries such as Norway, working in super exciting companies such as DNV, having great people around me and I really enjoy it, so I just hope it never goes over. But of course, it will.
SS: Liv, I have to ask you two things, and the first one is going to be very impolite and I'm sorry about that. I have to ask you about your age because I remember the first time you told me your age, I was completely shocked
LH: I am 56.
SS: I was looking at you in the board meetings and thinking, how did this young lady get to these incredible top leadership positions in one of the most asset-heavy, but also commercially important areas of DNV. I thought you were 26, to be honest.
LH: No, you're so kind to me. No, it's not that, but I must say I have been fortunate with the good genes of course, but I live my life like what has become very trendy now. I think that's kind of been my way of living in all my upbringing. My mother is very realistic, she's a nurse, very into nutrition, and also my father knows how important it is to kind of balance the body and the brain. I've been always been active, not like super competition sports, but what is called yoga now, I have done that for my whole life. Doing stretch exercises and these kinds of simple strength exercises. A little bit every day is kind of the thing. And just enough food and just enough drink and try to be a little bit boring. Sounds very boring.
SS: I guess boring is the way, or at least balanced. So, Liv, the other question is to tell us a little bit about your international background. Because you spent quite a bit of your youth abroad, but also your grown-up life. Even though you were based in Norway, you were working with a very international setup.
LH: Yeah, so I grew up actually in Italy as a young child. My father worked at the scientific research center in Italy, Health La Spezia, so we grew up there and that's been a very important part of my life. I think I was eight years when I came to Norway and hardly spoke Norwegian, and my father has been based there also afterward during my time at university, so it's been the place where we always come every summer and have a good time together. It's also become important for my husband and my family. Then I had the high school year in Texas, Austin, Texas, which was also part of growing up with my family. When I finished my master's at NTNU in Norway and worked for a couple of years in DNV, I felt I was a little bit too young to kind of start a very established life. So, I decided to go and have some extra education. And then I traveled to California, to Berkeley, and had the second master's degree, in naval architecture and offshore engineering. It was actually a start of a PhD, but I didn't do the thesis. I felt then it was time to come back and start establishing a family. And of course, in my work at DNV, I mean, that's also part of the reason I love working with DNV. It's so international. The maritime has spent 15 years in the maritime business area, it's very international. 15 years in oil and gas, and also at some point had the responsibility for the European region that was headquartered in Milano. I was commuting more or less to Milano for three years. And then of course, now with the global role, it was a lot of traveling in Middle-East, especially, Asia and the US. I really enjoy meeting people and understanding how to think, and realizing how the world will look different depending on where you see it from. So just by traveling and discussing and looking at your own country from a distance, open up completely new perspectives. So very rewarding.
SS: Liv, I have to ask you. I grew up with three languages. Hungarian, Serbian, and quite a bit of English. And I noticed that I'm a different person, depending on which language I speak, it's like my whole chemistry changes. And in some cases, I'm far more sentimental. In some cases, I'm simply far more familial. Did you think differently in Italian, Norwegian, English?
LH: No, actually, I don't think so. Of course, I'm able to articulate much more precisely in my mother tongue. And then in English, better than, I mean, Italian was a language that I learned when I was a kid. I kind of have this very basic vocabulary, it's like speaking with the kids. So, it's very limiting, really, I don't think it changes me too much personality actually. You probably can switch between English and, Norwegian just in the middle of a sentence, depending on who comes into the room. But maybe more actually where I am so. So, when I'm in Italy, I'm a different person. And that has even been noticed by especially my youngest child. Mama, when we're in Italy, you are different. You're like home. It's more like how I think I behave and how I maybe relax.
SS: Hmm, interesting. So, Liv, tells me a little bit about the oil and gas business of DNV. Basically, DNV comes, as far as I understand, and this is very simplified, from a traditional naval tradition, or maritime tradition of Norway, at some point about 150 years ago, we needed collective insurance between our ships, and then also we needed to make sure that the ships are good enough for the jobs that they were supposed to be doing. So, the certification business started. And then, as ships evolved into different classes, the certification got more and more complex. And so, what does certification really have to do with oil and gas?
LH: You're absolutely right, that's how DNV started in the maritime. And then when oil and gas were discovered in the North Sea, there were a lot of maritime industrial players that moved into oil and gas, it was also the ones with the boats, the fishing vessels. It's really about the competence that we need, is also needed in oil and gas and coal chain, the whole supply chain kind of shifted over. And we see the same now. The whole oil and gas supply chain shifts all over towards renewables, or offshore aquaculture, because it's the same competence. Some of it is the same. And for especially the DNV's services, it's really about hydrodynamics forces from the wave, it's about having strong enough, enough structures, it's about having safety systems, safety barriers. So, in case something goes wrong, it doesn't lead to a catastrophe. All that systematic thinking is, is the same. But then, of course, you had to add on additional competencies, because it is different to pumping up oil and gas from the earth than to transport the ship from A to B. But that is kind of enriching. Now that I'm moving to new areas, I can think about what do I really know about health, except for having been in the hospital now and then a few times, of course, but I realized there is quite a lot to contribute. First of all, of course, about the people side, but then it's now a lot about using digital tools. It's a lot about sharing data, what hinders data sharing, how you build on the digital infrastructure, all that is quite similar. So often you have more to offer in a new setting than you maybe think when you start. That's an encouragement.
SS: Exactly. I think that this transfer of knowledge between both different sectors of industry but also within our own head is something that is very underestimated. Personally, I remember when I came back to Norway for the second time. I came to Norway as an 18-year-old, studied here, worked here, and then went to Oxford for my Ph.D., then went to Silicon Valley then went to eventually to INSEAD for my MBA and came back. I also think that Norway's the best country in the world, especially for women, but for any professional wanting to balance interesting life with interesting work. And I remember people asking me, well, can't you make up your mind, you studied technology, and now you want to go into business, and I felt almost ashamed of myself for zig-zagging, career-wise. But I honestly think that that's what we need. Because the world has become so complex that by having all these perspectives, you can see the complexity more easily. And the way that you explained the transition, from maritime to oil and gas in terms of certification is a great example of that. Because, of course, anyone who has seen an oil platform, and if you guys are listening haven't, please look up a picture of the North Sea oil platform. These are incredibly complex setups, very, very advanced engineering that has to survive in a very hostile environment. They are supposed to be completely stable in waves up to 19 meters high. And all of this is happening with very advanced, both digital, but also mechanical systems. And I guess, not just ensuring that it looks good, but that we help people define what good looks like,
LH: I guess, they're setting a standard.
SS: In the sustainability perspective. And that's what I'd like you to think about now. So, what is this work that you did in oil and gas have to do with sustainability?
LH : That was the kind of the very, very challenging question when I took on the role, right, and I have thought so much about it because it's such an intellectual challenge to support an oil and gas, business, or industry at the same time as you truly believe in sustainability and concerned about client risk and know what the co2 do to society or to the climate. And at the same time, also, knowing that your own country relies on the income. It's a really complex dilemma, and to try to sort this. Because I really am a person driven but doing things that I believe are right. And I think that it's a realization that looking around and traveling around to see how reliant the world is on oil and gas, and to kind of take that away in a snap will create chaos. It will create instability and it will create uncertainty unsustainability in a different way it could trigger a war. War is not sustainable. Understanding how that all fits together and then realizing that what we need to work with is to make sure that if there is an oil and gas industry, we have to make sure or help the industry make it as environmentally friendly as possible as safe as possible and to utilize resources as efficiently as possible so not too much steel, not too much energy, not too much transport in the production. At the same time, we needed to influence the industry to make better choices and also influence governmental and decision-makers to make informed choices and to invest in the new greener alternatives. I think you've had Sverre Alvik here as well, discussing with him and the Energy Transition Outlook is such a report where we tried to kind of show how everything hangs together, and show a way towards a more sustainable future. Then of course in all this we have to make money, right? It's really an intellectual challenge to be in that mix and super rewarding and fantastic people I must say in that industry, and people that really want to do good things for the world.
SS : But when we support these large oil and gas-related projects, and our role is basically making sure whether this is something in Texas or in Kuwait, the cost structure is as safe and as environmentally friendly as possible. As you said, optimizing energy consumption verifying the as high quality of the product as possible. So quite a lot of incremental changes we can do to oil production are to make it cleaner.
LH: Yes, it is. And I think one of the big potentials now is going from the more mechanical analog world to the digital world work using digital tools. And to be even more efficient and also reduce, for example, the need for traveling to do inspections. You can now do some of the surveys using remote technologies. Instead of doing, all the rerun our calculation and document reviews, and all that, we can use more efficient tools and also save a lot of time and effort spent on something that can be spent on something else. I think the industry is, is doing a lot to make itself both greener, but also more efficient. By doing that, also, is an important part of the energy mix for many years ahead. And safety, but also environmental sustainability, I think we don't really think about it when we think about some of the largest industries of the world that DNV is helping keep safe, but I think what happened in the Suez Canal a couple of months ago when 1/5 of the world economy was suddenly at risk. As you said, also the kind of political consequences of such things, or the leakages that BP had in the Mexican sea some time ago. I think that we have simply come to a point where we have to do everything, we can stop such things from happening. And that's, of course, that role where DNV sees as a very important role. If it's big things like this, we also want to strive to avoid by working closely with our clients and stakeholders. So, the big accidents and the small incremental changes in order to continuously improve, and also to run the reveal the better alternatives as well. Yeah, but the Suez Canal is interesting. Avoiding such incidents is extremely important.
SS: I would just like us to go very, very briefly through two topics, and then we'll go over to the Accelerator. The first one is about gas; we talk about oil and gas. And most of us can imagine, the value chain for oil, we think of a platform somewhere out in the sea, some huge pipes going down, oil being pumped up and being led through. And that's where it kind of stops for me, I don't know if it's really a tanker ship taking it to the port, or is it a pipeline, taking it to the port, and from there on, it has its own kind of system. But how is gas different from this, are there other really important things that can be looked at,
LH: Gas is similar in the same way, I mean, it comes up from the ground, and then you either take it through pipes to the destination, or you put it on the ships through as an LNG. And what we've seen is liquefied natural gas, and that technology has become much cheaper in the last years, which means that gas is being more and more possible and economically viable to transport as a liquid, which then opens up for much more freedom in that market. Because before that happened, almost all the gas was transported in big, huge pipelines. And then it becomes kind of a very part of the almost the political system as well because you have to really make these long contracts, you know, selling gas from Norway to Europe, or from Russia to Europe. If you build a pipe, it's there forever, you kind of commit yourself much more than if you do on the spot market or in the LNG market. So, it's becoming actually more and more similar to the oil markets, the gas market now through the LNG technology. And then you see also that there's build fewer pipes.
SS: fewer pipes and more flexibility. The infrastructure is more flexible. Energy as a service in a way. I also want to ask you about this digital twin's idea without us getting bogged down into any definitions, but you talked about digital services on an oil platform. And in my head, it means an oil platform with lots of sensors that can measure different kinds of production. KPIs. And then we can also use that for predictive maintenance. For alerts for inspections even. Can you just say a little bit with, you know, is this reality? Is this something that the oil industry is actively using?
LH: Yeah, I think on a digital twin with many levels, and you said also that an oil platform or an oil facility is very, very complex. And we know it's also very risky because if something goes wrong, it can explode, then it can mean fire and all that. There's a lot of documentation to ensure that things are the way they should be. And just keeping track of that documentation, and keeping track of all the inspections and survey reports, it's a huge challenge. So, one kind of the basic use of a digital twin would be to make sure that we know where everything is, and which kind of asset or a part of the structure it belongs to. And it's possible to also have up-to-date pictures of the status of the facility. But then we see that more and more of the other equipment in on the platform is equipped with sensors, which means that we also can follow the condition of the system. And they can give alerts and they can almost at some point, tell to us that now I'm below standard, right, and then we have to go and exchange it. We're not quite there yet, but that's we're going. But then the kind of the final moral thing is if you then have a model, a digital model of the asset, with all the sensors, and the with the data, you could kind of instead of watching the physical asset, you can watch digital assets, which is much more convenient. And then you can go and do the maintenance or repairs, as you talked about. I think we're not there yet. But I'm sure that in many parts of components, that's for sure. coming very, very soon. So definitely a space to follow when all the things and the technologies that go into there can also then be applied for other industries as well because they are generic.
SS: Very interesting. So now Liv, to the Accelerator. What's Accelerator, and what do you want to do with it?
LH: The Accelerator is put up in order for DNV to be able to quickly grow into areas where we don't have a strong foothold. We are, as you know, traditionally very strong in maritime, in energy systems, and also some of the industries where we have a good impact on management system certification activities. But there are certain areas that we see are growing of importance for society. And where we think that there will be a need for an assurance provider. One of the big transformations we see is the digital transformation of the health care sector. So also in the health care sector, we see more and more trends toward data-driven decisions are more and more cloud-based solutions. When there's a need to share data, one patient, one journal system as a mantra from the government. How do we actually achieve that with the new technology, and how do we ensure that the data is where it should be and only seen by those that need to going forward. So, we think there is an assurance role there. And we see that in health, I mean, with a population with more people, more elderly people, the whole healthcare system will be strained going forward. It's extremely important for society, that the money we spend on health is used in order to treat patients, to have patient-centric solutions. A lot of the digital transformation is about reducing waste in the first place. So, there we see that we have a role. We are looking into more than a 10-year perspective and building up that. And then another very important area for society, given all the digital transformations in all the sectors is the cyber threat. So how can we assure that our customers are well protected against cyber threats, that's a huge, huge thing. And an area that we feel that it's very natural for DNV to take a position there. The accelerator has been given the task also to grow that sector as fast as we can.
SS: If we go back to the health sector. I think we use this word assurance in DNV as if the whole world knows what it means, but really, it's, again, very simplified, making sure that the services are doing what they're supposed to do. And this is increasingly important and difficult in a time of, let's say, artificial intelligence. So digital assurance for health services might mean that the diagnostic tools of tomorrow work as they should the communication systems are optimized. Why do we want to use certification, or quality assurance, or digital assurance in health services? What would you say?
LH: I think you're going, talking about that, if you know that your treatment is based on data from very many other patients or from other experiences or experiments, you really want to know that there is quality around these data. That the data are what they say they are, and that they have been qualified to be used the way they should. And there we believe that to have an independent third-party provider to do that quality check could be a value. Because the data can come from very many different sources. If it comes from only one source, it's kind of easy, but data is usually combined from very many mixes of sources and also from different companies, different countries even. So that is one thing. And then you mentioned algorithm, how do we ensure that these algorithms actually are trained the right way and trained on the right data and that they are actually what they do is what they're intended to. And as the health sector becomes more and more complex, we believe that people would like to know that these algorithms are assured by an independent party. It's exactly these examples that we are looking into how the future health care system will work in the future, but also protecting data, also protecting hospitals from cyber-attacks, making sure that when you give your sensitive healthcare data that they don't arrive at the wrong screen or the wrong reception. So, I think that the public increasingly will ask for these kinds of certificates or assurance services.
SS: For me, this is a very important political question as well as leave. I recently wrote a book called "Staten og dataen" , which means the state and the data in English, and I believe that the public sector has this responsibility towards all of us too. If everything, including our society, our health services, our welfare, and our politics is going to be supported by and driven by in the future of data, then somebody needs to make sure that there is independence in that data. And what I'm worried about is that the only organizations capable of doing this at an integrator level. At a really large scale, let's say somebody who can understand not just the data of one hospital, the whole country, all the hospitals, all the providers would be the large mega monopolies either in Silicon Valley or China. Because they have so much more experience in data and algorithms. And I believe that that independent, both politically and economically, parties like DNV are super important as a counterbalance to that kind of monopoly of future power. The municipalities, the different parts of the country, will of course have the necessary political freedom to choose the digital systems they want, but somebody needs to be able to connect them and somebody has to be able to ensure that they're being used in the way that they are regulated to be used.
LH: Yeah, yeah, I think you're right and, and if you look at how we operate in some of the other industries, like maritime, oil and gas, we're very close to the regulator and to the governments as well. So, we are in a way a bridge between the requirements set by the government's expectation from the government and the people in society and industry. In a way that bridge that connector also is important that we don't forget, it's really there where we add value to be that bridge between the regulators and the one that then is operating in the sector. So, I think that's needed also in health care.
SS: We talked about health care. But I think there is a transition or opportunity to, not just Norway and healthcare, but actually, all the world's health care because many governments will need to ensure that kind of stable and transparent level of quality of their services in a time where I think polarization is going to be stronger and stronger. So, what we managed to do in one place, perhaps we can more easily spread to other countries, given our international footprint.
LH: Yes, and I think that is also a picture we see. And you talked about knowledge transfer, and I think this is exactly how it will happen. Maybe it will develop now in the more digitized countries such as the Nordics, but definitely something that we then can bring out through our international network, and also try to influence other countries to do the right choices.
SS: So, I just want us towards the end to reflect a little bit on different kinds of sustainability. Because when we talked about oil and gas, we talked a lot about climate and energy efficiency and less steel, things that people generally associated with sustainability. I personally believe that three colors, they're really 17 on the UN circle. But there is green, that's the ecology, nature, water quality, etc. But there is also red and blue, and the red one is society and equality, and, respect and decent work, and so on. And the blue I think of is a necessary innovation to stay in the game and have some management ability. What we talk about here, it's not so much perhaps the green kind, but it's very much the red and the blue kind of sustainability.
LH: For technology? I mean, is that helping this sustainability on the blue side?
SS: No, I'm thinking in terms of red sustainability, so social sustainability. What you are providing is in many ways, ensuring equal access to services. And both countrywide, but perhaps internationally. And I think this is going to be a very important question going forward. Who gets access to what kind of health services? And then on the blue side, it's helping innovation, so that it's not only the largest IT companies in the world that also will control health but basically, the traditional providers?
LH: Yes, yeah, I think it helps both the blue and the red as you say, and I sometimes find it hard to kind of separate because I see on the blue side, you would think that's where you make the money in a way, but I think you're not given the license to operate, you're not given or you don't get customers to buy your products, all these things if you don't also solve the red part. So increasingly, people will see from a product that you actually cover both the green, red, and blue, otherwise, they will not buy the product. And there is technology available now, that you can actually scan in the shop, the product you tend to buy, and then you can get to trace for everything that builds into that product. You can see where it comes from, where it's produced. And then you can assess, you know, the green, red and blue, so it's not only the price before you purchase. I think that's extremely valuable because I think that, the ultimate influencer of the direction the world is going is the consumer, it is the voter, and it is the people so we have to make sure that we can use that power in a way that we want to work to go.
SS: I think that's a great way to conclude what we were talking about Liv. in your kind of final statement. Do you have some sort of advice to young people who think that sustainability is important, but don't know what business direction to take it into? What would you advise when it comes to sustainability?
LH: Yeah, I think sustainability will be important in all sectors, going forward. So, I think, in the old days, you kind of choose to become this or that. I think now, you have to have a conscious or picture of where that takes you regardless of what sector. I think the best advice is that almost anything that you engage in and spend time on and learn to understand becomes interesting. I think that investing in knowledge, being curious finding out how things work, will make you be interested in almost anything that you engage with.
SS: Liv thank you so much for joining us here to learn for an interesting and educational conversation.
LH: Thank you, Silvia. It was very nice to speak with you.
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What is your Education?
I have an MSC Structural Engineering from NTNU and an MSC Naval Architecture and Offshore Engineering from UC at Berkeley.
Do you have any hobbies?
Hobbies, family, friends Skiing, Sports, outdoors, gardening, literature, and arts.
What is your professional dream?
To be useful and contribute to solving the big problems, and create a working environment where others also can be themselves and contribute.
What is your project at work, and why it is important?
Digital health: we need assurance during this big transformation.
Why is it challenging, and how do you build the culture around this work?
My sector is a complex sector due to legacy, risks, regulations, country-specific requirements, and build a culture that is curious, collaborative, belief in technology, and purpose-driven.
Any interesting dilemmas?
There are interesting dilemmas around the need for international collaboration vs national focus to win elections.
What is your relation to digitalization, in simplest terms?
To demonstrate the practical advantage for the end-users.
What is your relation to sustainability, in simplest terms?
Energy operators should aim at providing low carbon energy at the lowest possible cost and believe technology will deliver.
And finally, what is your view on skills for the future:
An essential skill will be understanding how to deal with people.
Samle deg med en venn eller en kollega for å se om du klarer å svare på spørsmålet nedenfor.
What factors need to be taken into consideration in relation to the digital transformation and assurance, and why is it so important to maintain high standards throughout the process?
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