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Week at the top

Berit Kjeldsberg (47) is the CEO of R Kjeldsberg AS (established in 1856), an investment company in Trondheim, Norway. The company is engaged in the coffee industry, real estate development and venture investments. Berit is concerned with building good traditions for leading the 5th generation of siblings and cousins into the future

As usual, every Monday I have great ambitions about how many of the tasks that await me this week I will be able to finish. I start the day with a meeting of the board of executives. As we are involved in many different businesses, there are lots of items to discuss, including the development of our venture investments. Our goal is to see our university city, Trondheim, thrive and become a technical centre of innovation.

I also spend some time planning a speech I am due to give at a business gathering where the Minister of trade will be in attendance.

When I finally get home, my husband and I and our youngest daugter (12 years old) have a late dinner after a brief walk outdoors in the dark winter evening.

I'm up at 05.45 to catch an early plane to Oslo where I arrive five minutes late for the meeting at NHO (National employer's organisation). I am a member of NHO's committee for family businesses, which tries to influence political issues and gain more support for the general conditions for family businesses.

With an extremely tight schedule, I rush out of the meeting to fly back to Trondheim to attend another meeting at our bank later in the day.

After dinner my dog Monty happily accompanies me for an hour-long walk in the woods before bedtime. This is the best way for me to restore my stressed brain and it also gives me the chance to think of and rethink ideas and decisions that have been made during the day. Sometimes I develop good plans and speeches walking around by myself like this.

Like the past two days, I start today with another meeting. But this time it concerns strategic plans for an exciting, new investment: a private hospital, the first of its kind in mid-Norway. This is a very risky investment, but we think it will produce a good return if we manage to establish a good organisation around it.

In the evening I attend, together with 22,000 others, our "world famous" football team: Rosenborg. They are playing against Lyon in a Champions League match. It's a wonderfully played game and they managed a draw (not a win, but not a complete loss). Rosenborg is great PR for our little town.

Another meeting this morning, but this time it's via telephone with my brother, who is protecting our interests in a farm of 2,000 hectares in Paraguay! Coffee prices are historically low, so the owners now have decided to buy cattle and macadamia trees instead of
growing coffee. My brother is going to visit the farm and the challenge will be to mak sure that it is managed by
competent and trustworthy people.

In the afternoon I find out our board has reached an important decision: we will make an offer for a big commercial property that will be the biggest single acquisition we have made in one time.

Two hours later, I've switched gears and am hosting a pleasant dinner at home for my family and a few relatives.

I spent most of the day preparing for a family stockowner's meeting, which is going to be held on Saturday. But the evening is for me and my family.

This weekend is special for my family, as we will are celebrating my grandfather's 100th anniversary. He passed away nine years ago, but we wanted to honour him properly and do so by gathering together this evening. The nearest of kin to Grandpa have a wonderful and memorable evening, reminiscing about him, reading his old letters to Grandma and his sons. We have a lot to thank him for. Building a business through two world wars is a great achievement

Today is the family stockowner meeting and the first part of the family meeting is held in our office. After lunch we visit our coffee roasting plant, our medical clinic and the real estate we are interested in buying – it's important to keep the stockholders (my cousins) informed of the company's activities.

I try to protect my family life from too many job related activities, especially during weekends. But I often feel the conflict between being a businesswoman and a wife and mother, all at the same time, always trying to do the best job possible in all areas. So, I spend the evening by the fireplace with my husband and daughter, talking, reading and watching "Heartbeat". It's wonderfully relaxing.

As often as I can, I go for walks in the woods surrounding Trondheim, either by foot or on skis. Sundays are also the day for contemplation, housework and maybe a movie at the cinema. It's also for realising that there are still a few tasks undone that I have to deal with next week. But, I'm looking forward to another exciting Monday with lots of new challenges.

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