A REGION WITH INTERNATIONAL APPEAL
THE TECH-DUO ALIREZA BORHANI AND PARVANEH SARSHAR MOVED TO NORWAY ALMOST TEN YEARS AGO. BORHANI IS CURRENTLY WORKING AS A GLOBAL DIGITALISATION LEADER AT NØSTED, AND SARSHAR IS WORKING AS AN IT-PROJECT LEADER AT THE UNIVERSITY OF AGDER. THEY WELCOME MORROW BATTERIES, AND REFLECT ON ALL THE POSSIBILITIES THE OPENING OF THE NEW GIGA-FACTORY WILL HAVE FOR THE REGION.
– I’m proud to be a dual citizen, Iranian and Norwegian. Proudly living in Grimstad, a small city in the Agder region. I love it, Borhani smiles and continues – growing up in a big city like Tehran, and with all the travelling I have done around the world, I believe that Norway and the type of lifestyle we are offered here, suits us.
His wife, Sarshar agrees. The balanced work-life style was our goal, especially now with our new-born, she adds. Borhani emphasises that the bigger Norwegian cities, such as Oslo, Bergen and Trondheim contribute in a larger scale to the economy, but when it comes to living “the Norwegian lifestyle” they do not offer the same work-life balance that the smaller cities do.
– I can feel this, living in this region. I have enough time to be around where and when it matters. I can focus on my work and at the same time, have enough time for my life and my family. It fits my expectations and that is why I love Agder.
EVERYTHING IS ABOUT GETTING CONNECTED AND DIGITALISED
Sarshar has a lot of experience working in both academia and in business. She explains that UiA is good at focusing on both international and Norwegian trends. They also promote topics that are required to prepare students for the actual work force, for example within technology. We need people that are well educated in this area. Sarshar knows from her time in the shipping-industry in Arendal, that large companies in the sector are dependent on the latest technology.
– I think the jobs of tomorrow will be determined by the fact that we are moving towards micro-businesses and micro-industries instead of larger enterprises. For a while, the rule was to follow the major industries, but now, narrow and targeted educational skills are of more interest. It does not matter in which field – economy or technology. It seems like everything is connected and digitalised. Having IT-skills is very crucial, no matter what type of job or business you are targeting, Borhani adds.
ARENDAL IS COMPETITIVE
The couple agrees that there is a lot of potential in Arendal and Agder. There is room for both trying and failing, something that works in favour of being innovative and allows both businesses and employees to think differently and in a broader way.
– I think it is important to think out of the box, Borhani states. In bigger cities you must follow a trend, but this region realises the potential to think out of the box. From my experience you are encouraged to take a chance and be innovative.
When it comes to competing on a global scale and given the fact that we are so connected to Europe, Agder is nicely positioned to compete with bigger countries and cities. Agder has a high number of skilled people and the region can ensure success based on all the competence it offers.
– With the competence and the number of great businesses that we have in Agder, combined with having a great university, we are definitely a region built for success, Borhani smiles.
A MORE COMFORTABLE AND STRESS-FREE LIFE
Both Borhani and Sarshar nod when asked if Agder has what they hoped for when they moved here. Both large and small companies offer steady and stable employment and the people here are reliable.
– When people from bigger cities decide to move here, like us, it is because we want to be here. That assures a company that these people are people they can rely on for many years. If an employer offers this group of people a good job environment and a satisfying salary, then this is a person to invest in and rely on, Borhani says.
Sarshar agrees and adds that any employer would want to have employees that have a good quality of life. From her time working in bigger cities, she remembers seeing colleagues running from work, stressed and frustrated, to pick up children from school and day-care. She finds people in Agder to be more relaxed. We do not sit for one hour in traffic. We do not have to rush to make it to kindergarten before it closes. The work-life-balance in a smaller region gives you the opportunity to be both a better person to the people around you and a better employee.
WHAT THE FUTURE HOLDS FOR EMPLOYEES
Before Covid-19 everyone wanted to work from home. As a result of the pandemic both Sarshar and Borhani believe that people are fed up with all the online meetings and distance from colleagues. Even though they are both technologists, they believe people are ready to go back to the office and meet colleagues and other people again.
Borhani predicts that going forward, work-life will probably be a combination of being present at the workplace and working online.
– Covid-19 forced us to work from home and we missed the social interaction. We need to walk around, get social input, and not just sit in front the computer. I believe that as human beings we cannot work completely remote. However, thanks to technology, we have the chance to work from home if we need to and want to. Or even from the cabins, Sarshar says with a smile.
Sitting in a room with these extremely competent technologists we just had to ask – What about robots? Are they taking over our jobs? They both smiled at us before answering. They have wide networks across the globe within the field of technology. And they travel, attend seminars, and work hard to maintain these wide networks. When discussing this subject within their network of technologists, they all agree that they are not that concerned.
– In theory we know a lot, but not in practice. Not many companies are there yet. We humans will in no way be completely replaced by robots, but some manual tasks will be automatised by artificial intelligence. This is a good thing though. It means that we humans get to re-invent ourselves and create new tasks for us to do, Sarshar says.
Borhani is the digitalisation leader of Nøsted, an industrial company in Agder with a long and proud history. He finds it fascinating to be working in a manufacturing industry which is transitioning from the old fashioned way, to using and implementing new technology.
– Hearing that “the world is being digitalised” can sound scary. However, it is in no way a threat. Digitalisation automates our work. It helps us to work better, perform better and to significantly improve our performance and the quality of service. It is something we should all embrace and learn how to adapt into our work, he says.
A GREEN WAY OF LIFE
Having Morrow Batteries come to the region solidifies the fact that we are moving towards a green shift in Agder. We are becoming more aware of the benefits of green manufacturing.
– The initiation of “the green movement” is important. Morrow Batteries will be part of this here in Agder. We should all be willing to “go the extra mile” and scale up our expectations for Agder to have a green environment and to meet the global standards and concerns. This shows that we care about the future, Borhani Says. He adds that this is important for the people living in this region, for raising the next generation. We need the future to become greener.