With his extensive experience in the Foreign Service from China where he started a Consulate General in 2008, Norwegian Ambassador in Singapore Tormod Cappelen Endresen now uses his Asian connections and know-how to facilitate growth for Norwegian business in South-East Asia.
Located in the Hong Leong Building in the Central Business District, the Norwegian Embassy in Singapore works to secure and enhance Norwegian business relations and promote Norwegian products and services in South-East Asia. The Ambassador says that the Embassy functions as a marketer and cheerleader for Norwegian business. Singapore is the place with most Norwegian companies in Asia, which makes it an important location for the Norwegian economy. “We are trying to communicate what the Norwegian economy as a whole can offer Asia,” Ambassador Endresen says.
Work and Family Life
Endresen describes life as an ambassador in Singapore as rewarding, challenging, exciting, and busy. But Endresen and his working wife Elisabeth still manage to combine their schedules with maintaining a comfortable family life with their two kids Erika and Hans, the oldest one two years old, and the youngest only nine months.
A typical working day for the ambassador consist of maintaining contact and relations with the Singapore government, connecting with local and Norwegian businesses in the area and reporting on developments in the region of interest to Norway. He works closely with the other Norwegian embassies in Asia, but he says that this cooperation could be even tighter. One aim is to offer seamless services to Norwegian business interests. “There are typically two types of Norwegians, the ones who like to stay in Norway and those who have a desire to travel and move abroad. I think the group who wants to move abroad is getting bigger, and this makes it easier for Norwegian companies to internationalize and do business outside Norway. But this also has to be facilitated in a good way,” he says.
The Embassy’s Top Three Priorities
According to Endresen, there are three main priorities for the embassy. One is to become a more relevant partner for Norwegian companies by helping them to succeed and take part in the economic growth in South-East Asia. A second is to analyze political and economic developments in the area in terms of what they mean for Norway. Third; the embassy assists Norwegians locally by providing new passports and other consular services.
Endresen opened the Norwegian Consulate General in Guangzhou, China in 2008, where he worked for four years. His experience in China is valuable in his current position, as the ties between China and Singapore are strong. Still, he describes working in the two countries as very different. In China, there are complex political processes and rapid change. “China is a complicated society to understand, and the longer you stay there the more you realize the complexity. Singapore is an easier environment for Norwegian businesses and the Norwegian community to operate in” he says.
Norwegians in Singapore
There is an active and inclusive Norwegian community in Singapore. Endresen especially highlights the role of the Seamen’s Church and the extensive volunteer work done by Norwegians in Singapore. “An active Norwegian community of knowledgeable and hardworking people is a great resource for the Embassy, there is a lot to learn from them,” he says.
Singapore Vs Norway
When asked about how working in Singapore is similar or different from working in Norway, Endresen says he appreciates the opportunity to adjust to a new culture. “All communication is characterized and colored by culture. Working and living here, we have to adjust to the Asian audience. I do not see this as a challenge, but rather a perk, it’s exciting and an important learning process,” the ambassador concludes.