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World leading – and led from the countryside

Published: Januar, 2006

Omega is a modern Norwegian industrial adventure. From modest offices in an idyllic location by the sea in Ølensvåg, northernmost in Rogaland, they deliver software solutions for oil and gas project management worldwide. 40 employees are located in the Ølensvåg headquarters, and another 150 are situated in various customer and project locations, as well as in the Bergen, Stavanger and Oslo branches.

Petter Aalvik outside Omega offices

Petter Aalvik is the head of the computer adventure in Ølensvåg. One would not think from the buildings in the background that they house a world leading company in their field.

Subsidiaries and branches elsewhere in Europe, Asia and North America employ 85 people. Altogether there were 100 new people hired last year. In January this year they could have hired 50 more people – if only the manpower existed. Last year’s turnover was 245 million NOK, up 50 per cent from the year before. The profitability is also good.

There is no wondering why CEO Petter Aalvik is happy. The 40-year old has been with Omega for five years – starting as chairman, then moving on to CEO. Aalvik is a graduate engineer, and has also studied economics and management at international institutions. He has previously been working at management level in consultancy and offshore businesses.

– A hi-tech company with the world as their market, and their headquarters in a small West Coast village. That does not add up for most people, Aalvik?

– I think it adds up well. Ølensvåg is a nice place to live. People who grow up here wish to stay. Here they have their roots, family and the foundation in culture and way of living that they are familiar with. The town can offer good personal networks and a safe environment close to spectacular nature experiences. We also have the proximity to offshore-focused businesses like Ølen Betong and Westcon. And we are not far from oil- and gas-hotspots like Stavanger, Kårstø, Haugesund, Stord and Bergen.

There is a good industrial environment here, there is a lot of creativity and entrepreneurship. Three out of the five Rogaland finalists in Ernst & Young’s entrepreneur awards was from our county last year. People here are down to earth, and the local politicians are friendly towards trade and commerce. They look favorably upon people who try to start up companies. The spirit of co-operation is very present, and people are used to working together to solve bigger tasks. These are a few factors that define why Ølensvåg and Vindafjord County is the right location for us, says Petter Aalvik.

– Here at Omega we are trying to set the standards for project management in the oil- and gas industry by delivering tailor-made systems and competent personnel for following up. The reason we have succeeded with our products is that we combine information technology with expert knowledge. We are based on project engineers and software developers.

– It has not always been all sunshine for Omega, but it really took off when Statoil chose our project solutions in 1993. That was a breakthrough for us. After that it has been all good times for Omega. As late as 2000, they only employed 75 people. As of now, there are 280 names on the payroll.

– We don’t wish to disperse to other areas, but rather to keep focus on improving on what we are doing. We have a flat organization structure. Here in Ølensvåg we have our adminstrative functions and product development units. Most of our operations are performed at the customer sites.

– Are there difficulties recruiting personnel?

– Yes, with our growth rate it is a challenge to recruit people. Recruitment should be a core skill at Omega. We put great emphasis at being thorough, and we recruit from all parts of the country and even from abroad. Even though we could need even more, we are happy that we got 100 very qualified new team members in 2005. Interesting tasks and challenging jobs draw competent employees to Omega. It also helps that we have a healthy company culture, as well as a positive working environment and many initiatives to improve job satisfaction. In order to hold on to competence that others demand as well, we emphasize a correct salary and that people feel they are doing something meaningful with their skills and time, the Omega CEO adds. We also want potential candidates to know that Omega provide good opportunities for occupational growth, and that the company arranges for career planning. Also, employees willing to go abroad for a period of time are appreciated. A study showed us that 40 per cent of our team members showed interested in that.

The recruitment of employees with the right competence and attittudes is decisive for our further development. Right attitudes are defined as good social skills, flexibility, and the ability to look more at the task than at the ticking clock. Seeing as Russia could become a large and important market for us, we’re also looking for team members who, in addition to the right skill set, master the Russian language, Petter Aalvik adds. Omega is owned by some 40 employees. Among those are also the company’s founders.