Benchmark women making a difference in aquaculture: Birgitte Srheim |
21 January 2021
Benchmark women making a difference in aquaculture: Birgitte Sørheim
Benchmark Genetics Marketing Director Birgitte Sørheim discusses why aquaculture is a much more attractive industry for women than it used to be, what diversity means to her, and why she wants to see more female CEO’s in aquaculture.
What attracted you to the aquaculture industry?
When I was a child I grew up in Bergen near the coast and I’d always go to the sea with my family. We’d rent cabins and walk on the beach and swim. Then I moved to Brussels when I was ten years old and lived there for 6 years. There was no ocean, so when I came back to Norway I really enjoyed being close to the sea again and I took up scuba diving. When I was finishing secondary school there was a new engineering course at Bergen University College in Aquaculture Technologies. The salmon farming industry had started to emerge at that time, although it was much smaller than it is today. I thought it was really interesting and might be an industry for the future. I began the course in 1988 and spent three years studying Aquaculture. The content was quite different to today, as advanced IT technologies and RAS systems were still not available. The first role that I secured after graduating was at Lerøy Seafood Group in Sales and Marketing. I later took an MBA in Branding and an MBA course in Strategic PR and Communications to pursue my career within Marketing.
What do you enjoy the most (and least) about your role?
What I really like is my ability to combine skills in marketing and communications to influence the industry. From a genetics point of view, we are the first stage of the value chain. By understanding the markets, tailoring our messages and communication and engaging in the product development processes, we are able to influence the industry. I see, with all of the challenges that the industry is facing, that genetics is very important in terms of helping the industry to grow by creating resistance to diseases, producing faster growing animals and improving the yield and fillet quality. I’m part of a team that can make real changes to the industry. I also really enjoy working with such a great group of people. Everyone has very defined roles, they are all very dedicated and skilled. It’s a really successful combination of people. Regarding what I like the least, I would say that being based in Norway I am quite far away from our shrimp and tilapia customers. Obviously, with no longer travelling we are also not able to meet up with those customers as much as we did pre-Covid-19.
Birgitte on a work trip to Columbia with her colleague Edna
Tell us about the team you work with.
I have a very good team – the dream team! It’s very international, having Jorge from Uruguay, who is Spanish speaking but also has a full range of…