She is educated as a pharmacist, but the last seven years Fride Iversen has worked with research and innovation in the seafood industry. However, since May, she has been in charge for something completely different. Now she is responsible for competence and talent attraction at our cluster. How did that happen?
Foto: Hulda Óladóttir

It started with salmon lice

Fride found her way into the “seafood world” through one of the biggest issues in the salmon industry. She went from mainly working as a pharmacist in the pharmaceutical industry, to joining a start-up-company in 2015. They worked with developing a calcium-based medicine to treat salmon lice.

Fride explains that it was a bit of coincidence that she ended up in the seafood industry. However, it was not a completely unknown industry for her.

– It`s probably in my blood, because my dad has worked in the fish farming industry for a long time, she says and chuckles.

She clearly has a broad interest for both innovation and research, but where did the emerging fascination for competence and talent attraction come from? 

The importance of new competence

When Seacalx, the company she previously worked for, and their work with the medicine for salmon lice grew bigger, they started to collaborate with the University of Bergen. Master`s students in pharmacy were involved, and they wrote theses based on the work. When collaborating with the students, Fride became aware of how valuable new insights and competence can be in projects like that. 

She also explains that the interest in competence and talent attraction comes from a deep commitment to pharmacy. Many people think that pharmacists only work at pharmacies, but Fride emphasizes that they are needed in many industries.

– I want to show that there are a lot of opportunities in the seafood industry. When we started to work with master`s students on the project with Seacalx, we saw that they, as newly educated pharmacists, got a job in the seafood industry afterwards.

The seafood industry needs, among others, pharmacists, she says, and adds how important it is to find the right competence to stimulate innovation and sustainable growth. Updated knowledge is necessary to change in pace with the society.

Attracting future employees

Now, Fride uses her experiences from collaborating with the master`s students daily in the cluster.

She explains that it is important to make the industry visible and trigger the interest among future employees at an early stage.

Foto: Hulda Óladóttir

– By doing so, we ensure that the young people know about us and chooses an education which can lead them into the industry. The cluster works with several projects where this is the goal, among others, innovation camps in high school, she says.

An important part of the work around this, Fride adds, is about forming a picture of what the industry will look like in the future, and acquiring competence based on that.

– We use the cluster`s focus group within competence to gather people from seafood companies, research and academia and discuss which competence the seafood industry needs in the future.

The work with building a future-oriented industry is both about investing in new competence and by building the knowledge of those who already work in the industry.

Lifelong learning

The fact that technology and society constantly are changing, means that “lifelong learning” is an important tool for companies to be able to both adapt and compete. It involves that people have to commit to learn their whole life, even after graduation.

– I have experienced the importance of lifelong learning by myself. When I worked in the pharmaceutical industry, it was big changes in the legislation, which meant that we had to keep updating our knowledge. The idea that we must be flexible all the time is also apparent in the seafood industry, for example when it comes to digitalization.

Fride explains how our competence program Seafood Next is one of the clusters initiatives to strengthen lifelong learning. Even if the participants have careers in the seafood industry, they join the program to be able to keep up with the changes around them.

– I think it`s an industry that has come a long way, but to come even further, we have to be open for new ideas and knowledge to think in new ways. Even if you have worked with something for a long time, the world is constantly changing, she says.