Meet our Project Manager Eirik

Against the current

According to Eirik, there is nothing that clears the mind and calms the soul like a swim. But what to do when there’s no time to cultivate your greatest passion? Well, you build a counter-current pool in your back yard.

It’s a warm afternoon in June, and Eirik welcomes us at his home in Tønsberg, the southern part of Norway. It’s his first day back at work after paternity leave with little Astrid, his second-born child. The scaffolding surrounding the house testifies that the Project Manager is keeping busy in his spare time. But one thing stands out in the construction chaos – the brand new 5x2 meters counter current pool of 5 x 2 is undoubtedly the centrepiece of his backyard.

The list of achievements as an competitive swimmer is long and a great explanation as to why the pool has the place of honour. As a former national team swimmer representing Norway, the 34-year-old holds an impressive record of 13 gold medals and close to 30 medals in total, in addition to several awards from international triathlon championships.

Eirik has been swimming his entire life, and the choice of school was anything but random. Stanford University Swimming is recognized worldwide for its swim team, and the school facilitates a fine balance between studies and extracurricular activities. Swimming with Olympic athletes and competing as a team against other schools during his 6 years in the Californian sun was an experience, and on top of it all, he came home with a Civil Engineering degree in Mechanical Engineering.

Back home in Norway he started his working career at Kongsberg Defence & Aerospace.

"It motivates me to see that we are able to solve most problems far more agile than many of our competitors."

Flexible link

It has been 9 years since Eirik first started as a Project Engineer in Kongsberg Defence & Aerospace’s Missile division. Challenging technology, complex products and great personal development opportunities within the same company, was what attracted him to KONGSBERG. After a while, he was trusted with the responsibility as Technical Manager, first within development, and later on delivery projects in close collaboration with the Project Manager.

Today, he is leading international delivery projects.

“I see my role as Project Manager as the link between the customer and our skilled engineers and operators who develop the world's leading naval missile,” says Eirik.
As Project Manager, he is responsible for delivering products and information to the customer, and communicating the customer's requirements within the organisation. Building relationships and keeping a good dialogue with both customers and internal resources are essential for project progress.

“What I like best about my job is that I get involved in many different topics within different disciplines and that there are short internal lines to solve them. I think this is a big competitive advantage for us, and it motivates me to see that we are able to solve most problems far more agile than many of our competitors,” says Eirik.

"A Project Manager needs to be structured, but even more important is the ability to change plans along the way. Because it is certain that nothing turns out exactly as you planned, and challenges that needs resolving will arise along the way."

Problem solving is an important part of a Project Manager's role, and for Eirik it is the unpredictability that makes his job particularly interesting. Taking on new challenges and solving them is an important driving force.

Even if a Project Manager should be structured, it is just as important to be flexible and able to change plans along the way, Eirik explains. One thing is for sure; nothing will turn out exactly as you planned, and challenges that needs resolving will arise along the way. It is important to keep your cool and not be surprised. The key is good cooperation.

Being part of a project management environment, where you also physically sit together with the other Project Managers and Technical Managers in the department, allows exchange of experience across the different projects. Eirik works actively to acquire new knowledge and to use his experiences in new and more responsible tasks. He is eager for more challenges, and knows there are plenty of opportunities internally.

“I try to keep up with the swimming, both because it keeps the whole body in good shape, but not least because it is the best way to clear my head and get my soul in place. I never feel as calm as after a swim.”

High quality and long lifetime

New challenges is what drives Eirik forward, both at work and private, and after he decided to finish his career as an competitive swimmer back in 2012, he started doing triathlon instead, meaning he had to acquire skills in not only one, but three different sport disciplines. For a period he worked full time and spent all his spare time training and travelling to European Cups in the weekends. With the family increase it became too time-consuming to continue. It was during paternity leave with his first-born that Eirik found a solution to how he could pursue his great passion. The counter-current pool is of the highest quality, and offers every opportunity to become an elite swimmer. But Eirik has no intentions of pushing his kids in that direction unless they decide to follow in his footsteps.

As a project manager in the Norwegian defence industry, there are many considerations to take into account, and strict requirements for documentation and authority control. The sustainability perspective is also an important focus area, with continuous work to avoid dangerous chemicals in the products, to avoid contamination of both maintenance personnel and the environment where the products end up.

“I believe that the most important thing we do for sustainability is to deliver products of high quality and with a long lifetime,” says Eirik. “This results in limited waste, and customers do not need extra equipment to be sure that they have something that works.”

Kongsberg Defence & Aerospace is now in the middle of an enormous growth period and with many new contracts on the way, there is a need for more project managers. According to Eirik, it is a unique place to work, where you connect with a wide range of different disciplines at the same time. You get very close to both technical challenges in electronics, mechanics and software, while at the same time you acquire insight in economy, quality, safety and security - all under the same roof.

“There are few places where you have such advanced systems, and that you still manage to maintain such a broad spectrum. I think it's very exciting to work with, and I think there are many others who agree with me on that,” concludes Eirik.