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 Digitalization 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 mean for the region.

– I’m proud to be 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 had around the world, I believe that Norway and the type of lifestyle we are offered here, suits us.

His wife, Sarshar agrees. The balanced life and work-style was our goal, especially now with our new-born, she adds. Borhani emphasizes that the larger 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 Getting Connected and Digitalised

Sarshar has a lot of experience working in both in 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 market. 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 sector are dependent on the latest within 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 the 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 digitalized. Having IT-skills is very crucial – no matter what type of job or business you are targeting, Borhani adds.

Arendal is Competitive

The couple agree that there is a lot of potential in Arendal and Agder. There is room for both testing and failing, something that works in favour of being innovative and allow both businesses and employees to think different and wider.

– I think it is important to think out of the box, Borhani states. In bigger cities you must follow a trend, but this region realizes this 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, given the fact that we are so connected to Europe, Agder is nicely positioned to compete with bigger countries and cities. Agder has a great amount of skilled people and the region can assure success based on all the competence it offers.

– With the competence and number of great businesses we have in Ager combined with having a great university we are definitely a region build 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 moving 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 ensures a company that these people are people they can rely on for many years. An employer who 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 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. Here she finds people in Agder to be more relaxed. We do not sit 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.

The Future of 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 both are technologist, they believe people are ready to go back to the office and to 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.

Artificial Intelligence

Sitting in a room with these extremely competent technologists we had to allow ourselves to ask the question we all have; What about the robots? Are they taking over our jobs? They both smiled at us before answering. They both have wide networks across the globe within the technology field. And they travel, attend seminars, and work hard to maintain these wide networks. When discussing the subject in their network of technologist 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 automatized by artificial intelligence. This is a good thing though. It means that we human get to re-invent ourselves and create new tasks for us to do, Sarshar says.

Borhani is the digitalization leader of Nøsted&, an industrial company in Agder with a long, proud history. He finds it fascinating to work with the transition from the old fashion way of running and working in a manufacturing industry, towards leading the company towards using and implementing new technology.

– Hearing that “the world is being digitalized” can sound scary. However, it is in no way a threat. Digitalization 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 coming to the region adds to the already known 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 the importance that this has, for the people living in this region, rising the next generation. We need the future to become greener.