She is the first employee at Invest in Agder, a pilot promotion function focused on attracting and facilitating foreign direct investments in the region. Invest in Agder is the first regional division of the national Invest in Norway program.
Foreign investments have always been big in Agder. A large number of the leading companies in the process industry and suppliers to the oil and gas industry are on foreign hands. For Grobæk, foreign investments in Agder is about retention and expansion.
“Attracting new businesses while keeping existing businesses happy,” says Grobæk. “We often think we should be ‘attractive hosts’. I don’t care much for that expression. For me, it is all about costumer service. We should view foreign investors as customers, not investors.”
If your job is to attract foreign investments, you might think your focus should be primarily outside of Norway. Grobæk disagrees.
“In order to attract foreign players, the home field must be inviting and welcoming,” she says. “The leading industries in our region have an international mindset. It comes naturally because they operate in a global market and often have foreign ownership. I think the public sector has a potential to become more commercial to match the business sector. Establishing Invest in Agder is definitely a step in the right direction,” says Grobæk.
Born and raised in Agder, Grobæk has a good feel for the region she is promoting, even after 18 outside of the region. A total of 15 years outside of Norway, in Germany, Denmark, France, Scotland, US and Hong Kong, gives her a good understanding of markets. Her background is in international business development and marketing.
Three months into the job, Grobæk has come to know the suppliers to the oil and gas industry better after travelling with them to OTC in Houston. However, the majority of her time has been spent promoting data storage, following huge investments in infrastructure for a world-class data center in Vennesla, just north of Kristiansand.
“Agder is the natural location for an international data center. The infrastructure is already established. It will be a stronghold for data storage and also for data processing,” says Grobæk.
She will also market the softer values, such as the fact that Norwegians are repeatedly reported to be the happiest people on earth, and that the regional capital Kristiansand recently was named the most attractive city in Norway.
«These things matter in the war on talent. A strong and international oriented university is also important to attract the smartest minds,” says Grobæk.