Power to the People

Lene Aspen Nilsen - New Normal Group Partner & CFO, Chairman & Advisor for Origami Paperworks

I always knew I wanted to help people. Even from a young age, I saw myself in some sort of teacher-type role. I figured if I could make someone else’s life just a little bit better by helping them develop and grow, that I would be doing my part in building a better world. Fast forward to today, and although I didn’t end up a teacher, putting people first is still the most important part of my life. This is true whether they are clients, coworkers, or community members. 

Believing in Others

Growing up in an average Norwegian household grounded me in many of the values I have today: working hard, taking care of one another, and valuing time out in nature. Even as a child, I can remember applying some of these values to the world around me. Even in Primary School, where I had a strong affinity for supporting people, I often found myself working in groups with struggling classmates. Wanting everyone to feel included, capable, and seen, I would take the lead and delegate project tasks according to a person’s individual strengths, not weaknesses. 

Numbers are black or white. But people tend to fall into the grey - and that is a beautiful thing to explore.

My first post-education job was at the Oslo Stock Exchange. But after four years, I couldn’t seem to escape the question: do I want the kind of job that only makes the rich richer, or do I want to feel like I can really touch the lives of those I work with? Ultimately, these questions were the start of a new beginning - one that led me to trade my life in Oslo for a smaller, community-driven one back in Porsgrunn and Skien. Today, my job gives me much more freedom. There are endless opportunities to listen closely to others’ needs and assist them in reaching their greatest potentials.

The Human Touch

Many of our clients are startups, so I feel pretty lucky to join their journey and guide them down the road to success. Of course, numbers do matter, and they need to be correct, up to date, and so on. And there is automation in accounting and AI that can take care of this. But behind the scenes, there will always be real people with ideas and dreams, all needing to be heard and helped by a fellow human, and not just put into a computer’s equation. Ultimately, I can’t help but laugh at the irony of it all, how I - a person who always puts people first - have a job that is supposed to put money first!

Although I have been working with numbers for more than 15 years, I have never strayed from believing that people should always come first.

I spend a lot of time volunteering with the local rescue boat in Kragerø. It’s a hobby I highly value. It doesn’t matter if it is a medical emergency or a fisherman needing to be towed into shore. Being able to help people there and then is the ultimate feeling of happiness for me. It’s not only my part in building a better community, but it’s a statement supporting the power of diversity and female representation in a male-dominated field. And then, when I need a break from chasing the new normal, I chase simplicity. For me, that means putting the kids to bed and heading out into nature, be it the mountains or the sea, to watch the sunset with my best four-legged friend, Bruno.