“Houston is a big piece of contemporary Norway” -Dr. Jostein Mykletun
Norway has been represented in the South Central Region of the United States since it opened its first Honorary Vice Consulate in New Orleans in 1906. The Consulate General has been located in Houston since 1977. The Norwegian Consulate General has two diplomats here, as well as four local employees, and two student interns.
-What does a typical day at work look like for you?
“It is normally a very long day! I spend a lot of my time on outreach activities. We host seminars, conferences, workshops, press events, and public events. We use Norway House for most of our activities, but we also stage larger events in downtown Houston, and host receptions and dinners in the official residence. We seek to be visible, inclusive, and involve the public as much as possible in our work. In specific subject areas, we also team up with other countries, such as the British, Canadian, South Korean and Brazilian Consulates.” Furthermore, considerable time is allocated to preparing and conducting the numerous official visits from Norway, be they from Parliamentary Standing Committees, Government Ministers, or from City Officials, such as the many pleasant visits by the Mayor of Stavanger, in the context of Houston and Stavanger being close Sister Cities.
The Consulate General is located in Norway House in the heart of Houston, a building they share with Innovation Norway, INTSOK, and the Norwegian-American Chamber of Commerce. Norway House also hosts several Norwegian business starts-ups. They often join forces and call themselves Team Norway. Their overall, common goal is to further strengthen and widen the commercial, industrial, and knowledge driven bonds between Norway and the Southern Region of the United States. Houston stands out as the most important focal point.
-How do you like working in Houston?
“Houston is very business friendly, and is the undisputed energy capital of the world. Through Texas Medical Center, Houston is also the world’s medical hub with 13 hospitals and a total of 54 leading institutions within such fields as cancer and heart disease research. It is very inspiring to work here, and surrounded by the high level of unique competence makes you alert.” There are over 150 Norway related companies established in Houston, hosting the largest colony of Norwegian expats worldwide, totaling close to 12,000. “Houston is a big piece of contemporary Norway”, Dr. Mykletun says. Adding humorously that these expats are “real-time” Norwegians!
–What areas do you want to focus on in the future?
“The potential is great, particularly in the field of offshore industry, unconventional and alternative energy, medical research, information technology, financial and banking services, and, in promoting enhanced cooperation and exchange between universities”, explains Dr. Jostein Mykletun.
Before starting as Consul General in Houston on August 30th, 2010, Dr. Mykletun has been Norway’s Ambassador / Special Adviser and High North Project Manager, Deputy Director General for Economic, Commercial, CSR, and Research Affairs in the Foreign Ministry, Science Counselor at Norway’s Embassy in Washington D.C., (2001-2005, and Science Counselor at Norway’s Permanent Mission to the EU in Brussels (1999-2001). Previous positions in the private sector include serving as CEO of Offshore Northern Seas, and Secretary General of the World Petroleum Congress, in Stavanger, Norway. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota in Political Science, International Law and Economics (1975). His wife Sonia Mykletun, former Executive Director of the U.S.-Norway Fulbright Foundation in Oslo, is an active and important support for the Norwegian Consul General in Houston.