From Austin To Norway…Eventually

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Americans living in Norway
Michelle in Norway

She Said Yes To The Adventure, COVID-19 Said Not So Fast

December seems like a lifetime ago. It’s an understatement to say the world has changed a lot in the past five months. In December, when Michelle Holford was hired as the Global PR Lead for Cognite, her biggest challenge was selling her home in Austin, TX. The new position requires Michelle to relocate to Oslo, Norway.

She was excited about a grand adventure in a new country, and then the world was turned upside down. Relocation plans have been put on pause while travel restrictions are in place. Even though the timing of her move is currently unknown, Michelle has adapted and looks forward to life in Oslo.

Cognite has offices in Texas, but her position with the Marketing and Communications team is located in Norway. Originally, Michelle was supposed to be in Oslo on April 1st. Even though she can’t physically be there, the company’s culture has enabled her to stay connected.

The good news is that Cognite specializes in innovation and digitalization and “togetherness” is a core value at the company. The company’s culture of togetherness has translated well with Google Hangout meetings, and a daily radio show to keep everyone connected throughout the world. Every Friday is “Fri-yay” a time to discuss the state of the business, and knowledge sharing all through livestream. Michelle says, “These things were happening before the pandemic so it is easy to stay connected to my teammates in Oslo.”

“I was also in Oslo for a week when I interviewed, was invited to the formal company holiday party in Norway and went out for onboarding. I’ve had a lot of opportunities to connect with my Oslo colleagues and of course also the team here in North America before the shelter in place happened. They are also from all over the world and are fantastic,” said Holford.

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Fearless girl statue in Norway-photo provided by Michelle

Michelle’s New Role

As the Global PR Lead I’m responsible for telling the good news about Cognite to the media and how we make an impact for our customers and partners globally. We are 350 people strong with people from over 30 countries on staff. I’m so excited to live in another country and work with colleagues from throughout the world. On my team alone we are American, Australian, Italian, Lithuanian, Japanese, and French, but we are all Cogniters. I will have the opportunity to travel around the world to staff company leaders for events and media interviews. I can’t wait!

Obviously many large events have been cancelled to date, but the media never sleeps and is especially interested in remote work and how business models will be changed in future, and that is what we do in heavy asset industries. We work to help transform companies in power and utilities, manufacturing and oil and gas through digitalization.

Check out these robots:

A Test Run

I asked Michelle, do you feel like this unique experience, starting a new position and putting your relocation on hold has given you a new perspective on your move? She responded, “I think it was a practice run. Being forced to shelter at home for the good of the health of my community allowed me to get creative on ways to connect with people I love the most, even here in the states. Connection is powerful and the digital tools we have at our disposal are amazing.”

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Norway photo provided by Michelle

Seeking ways to connect with others, Michelle joined a Facebook group for Americans living in Norway. She says both the Americans living in Norway and the Norwegians have been extraordinarily welcoming.

“Many have given tips on what to bring over when I move so I have some comfort foods from the US. They have offered to meet up once I’m there and have been very kind. I’m very excited to try new holidays, customs and the Scandinavian way of life. It is very interesting to me to try the Nordic model of community over individual. My background is very Finnish and Swedish so I’m excited to track down some long lost relatives as well!”

Before preparing to relocate from one country to another many use their time to see friends, eat at their favorite restaurants, etc.

“I was scheduled to leave April 1 so I had invested time in saying my goodbyes before the shelter in place. Zoom bday parties and book clubs allowed me to practice how I will continue to stay connected from Norway. I facetime one of my best friends every day now here from Texas and she lives in Minnesota, we will just have to figure out the time zones,” Michelle said.

Say Yes To The Adventure

Throughout the transition Holford has learned to adapt, and offers this advice.

“Be patient, be flexible, be open and kind, have digital plans in place. Have clear and constant communication with employers, colleagues, and loved ones. Take advantage of offerings by your employer to keep teamwork and mental health strong. Take the adventure, you get one life go see the world!”

If you’re looking for a job Cognite is hiring, check them out on LinkedIn, YouTube or their website.

Americans living in Norway
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Kristin Barclay
Kristin Barclay graduated Magna Cum Laude from the University of South Carolina with a major in Journalism and Advertising. Prior to joining Daily News she was a popular on-air personality on the Houston radio program In Wheel Time. You can find an account of her travel adventures and more on In Deep H2O. She is widely recognized as one of the top digital and media influencers in the country being most recently recognized as one of the Top Three social media influencers in Houston. She now handles all digital media aspects at Focus Daily News.