Day in the Life – Geir Olav Melingen

Geir Olav talks about his role as Commercial Director for Benchmark Genetics, how the best part of his job is working with the commercial team, and his love of Manchester United.

It’s a fantastic team and it’s very exciting to work in so many different countries with different cultures. We export to more than 20 countries and that’s increasing year by year.

Geir Olav Melingen,

Commercial Director, Benchmark Genetics

What’s your job title?

Commercial Director Benchmark Genetics

How long have you been with Benchmark and what made you join?

I’ve been with Benchmark since January 2019. There were multiple reasons for joining, including:

– I wanted to return to the aquaculture industry after 4 years with the Bergen Aquarium.

– I had previously worked with SalmoBreed, now a part of Benchmark, and really enjoyed working with genetics. You can communicate with customers in a very exciting way. All farmers need your product, and it’s interesting to discuss the importance of understanding and using genetics to improve your production. You can really discuss fish health and production in an open way with customers.

– I knew many of the people within genetics and looked forward to working with them again.

Can you describe your role?

I have global responsibility for the sales of our salmon genetics. We export to more than 20 different countries, which puts us in contact with many different cultures and companies.

I have a commercial team with 1 in Iceland, 3 in Scotland, and 5 in Norway. I also work closely with the General Manager in Chile on that market. We have developed a unique commercial team – One team – where all are truly helping eachother. For me, it is important that my team can shine and that they are all able to use their skills. The team has different backgrounds and skills, and truly complement eachother in quite a unique way. If someone has a question or needs assistance with a customer, then anyone who has the knowledge to contribute will do so, without hesitating, even if this is outside of their responsibility.

Part of my work is to facilitate the environment for this team, to utilize them in the best possible way and make sure they all deliver to their potential.

We have a saying that if our customer does not succeed, we do not succeed. Another is that even the smallest customer deserves our full attention and respect – you never know what they will be tomorrow.

We spend a lot of time working with different land-based projects globally and have put Benchmark Genetics in a unique position within this segment.

I also work closely with my team towards quality, marketing, and production as well as genetic services.

Where are you based?

Bergen, Norway – our global HQ for Genetics – and one of the most beautiful cities, not only in Norway but also globally… ?.

What’s your favorite part of the role?

Working with my team – partly as a team member, but when needed, also as their boss.

I also truly enjoy meeting our customers, traveling to see them, visiting their production, and spending quality time with them.

What’s your biggest challenge?

Being within the commercial, reaching our sales targets is always a big challenge. However, over the last 2 years, we have also had a challenge to distribute a limited volume to our customers. We have had a very successful start of the new facility in Salten. To ensure that our key customers get their share is a huge challenge.

Tell us about the people you work with?

I have a unique commercial team. Robert is in Iceland and works closely with production there. Ben takes care of the Scottish Industry as well as land-based customers in North America. Harry works globally on land-based. Andrew also works globally and is our technical expert for land-based. Ben, Harry and Andrew are all located in Scotland. Petter and Thommy take care of the mid and North part of Norway and Kate take care of the Southern part. Lars is involved in logistics and imports to Norway, also supporting Kate in the South. Stein helps with technical documentation and customer follow-ups both in Norway and where needed internationally. I also work closey with Pablo, the General Manager Chile and his team. They really support eachother fully, not just in what they say, but in what they do, every day. They are people with very different backgrounds, but they understand their strengths and weaknesses and are willing to share their knowledge to build up their team members. All of them do their best to make sure we give the best possible technical support to our customers and are really supportive of each other.

It is a team that is a true pleasure working with, and I enjoy having close contact with them. Now I look forward to being able to meet customers with them, as the world slowly gets back to the new normal.

It’s a fantastic team and it’s very exciting to work in so many different countries with different cultures. We export to more than 20 countries and that’s increasing year by year.

What activities do you enjoy outside of work?

I enjoy going to the gym before work, at around 6.30 am, it gives a great start to the day.

I enjoy fishing, and fishing for cod is my favourite.

I enjoy going for a hike.

I enjoy spending time with my family.

I do not like when my cars get dirty, so for me, every 1-2 weeks spending time washing cars is quality time.

Also, during covid-19 we bought a house in Spain, so I’m looking forward to spending some time in that area, biking and exploring the neighbourhood.

Finally, I truly enjoy football, especially Manchester United, but also when home, I watch every match my youngest son plays.

What makes you happy?

I always enjoy making a new contract with our customers.

I truly enjoy the success of Manchester United or when my son’s team wins. I also did that when my oldest son was playing or when my daughter played handball.

I very much enjoy the success of my team, and when they win a contract or get great feedback from a customer etc. it really makes me happy.

What’s your favourite meal?

A great meal of seafood is appreciated, but also homemade pizza …..I am very flexible, but the environment and atmosphere when enjoying the food are equally important.

Having a great steak in Chile is always a success.

Having a traditional Chinese meal in China is a success.

Having great seafood with colleagues at a traditional seafood restaurant is a success….

I was once in the Gobi desert in China and we had barbecued sheep, which someone had traveled 300km for. We ate it with a Chinese red wine. The whole setting made the meal special. If I’d eaten the same food in the hotel it would have been a very different experience. It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

If you could have any superpower, what would it be and why?

Tricky question…..perhaps reverse climate change and bring a more stable world for the future generations.

Also, I would have the ability to make sure Manchester United win every time they meet Liverpool in the spirit of Sir Alex Ferguson.

If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go and why?

I have been quite fortunate to be able to visit many places in the world. If I could choose one place I want to visit again, it would be Bali. I went there in 1998 and it was a place everyone was talking about at the time. When we arrived it was almost a disappointment because of the expectations I’d had about it, but looking back it was a fantastic place. If I could choose one place I have never been, it would be Hawaii.

If you were going on a desert island and could only take 3 things, what would you take and why?

My wife – for company, a knife – to survive – and a boat to return back to civilization when we felt the time was ready for that?

What are you most proud of?

Of course my family – my wife, 2 sons (18 and 21 years old), and my daughter (15 years).

I am also very proud of my commercial team, and how we have been able to structure the team and work together as one united team.

What’s your favourite film/book of all time?

Perhaps at the time, it was the Rocky movies, as I also boxed in my youth. However, looking back now, you can see that films/movies being produced today are at a totally different level. Later I would say Forrest Gump is a fantastic movie.

For books, I have read all of the books from Wilbur Smith – I can’t stop reading them once I start.

Favorite life motto?

Our success is dependent on our customers’ success.

Also, why do something tomorrow when you can do it today? I am a very impatient person.

Night owl or early bird?

Both – I like to get up quite early for the gym, or just start the day early, and we always stay up late at night. Ever since I was young, I could do quite well with only a few hours sleep. So normally now, 5-6 hours should be ok. I’m also fortunate enough to be able to take a power nap, anytime, anywhere. That can replace an hour of sleep during the night and is an effective way of using time.

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