"Silje doesn't walk over mountains. She digs through them with bare hands," a friend told a journalist who was interviewing friends and co-workers for a profile article on me. And I believe this is true.
Since the age of 14 I have continuously started my own projects and taken them from idea to reality. First locally, then internationally. Before turning 17, I had been the managing editor and host of the children and youth section of the local radio station, worked as a journalist in the local paper and been the editor of their youth section, established Norway's first County Council for Youth and arranged a drug-free festival. Working hard to see ideas become reality and focus on topics of great importance to me have always inspired me greatly.
A month after I turned 17 I moved to Wales to study at the United World College of the Atlantic. Living in a castle in a small village on the south coast of Wales together with nearly 400 young people from over 100 countries, changed my focus from national to international. Over the subsequent five years, I arranged a large peaceful demonstration in London against French nuclear testings, ran soup kitchens for homeless people in Cardiff, founded an NGO setting up projects to foster cooperation and dialogue between young activists and world leaders, organized a 3-day conference the Queen Elizabeth Hall in London, published a book written by young people and world leaders, and participated as a youth representative at several international conferences where I stood side by side with people like Hillary Clinton, the Dalai Lama, President Frederik Willem De Klerk, Dame Anita Roddick and President Vaclav Havel. When I at 22 brought my newborn daughter Oda with me to the castle in Prague to speak at the Forum 2000 millennium conference, my daughter and I quickly made sure female participation and the future generations was put on the agenda. Oda quickly became a focal point among state leaders and others, and many of the men she read about in her history books today carried her around the castle when she was a very new world citizen.
While studying economics, management, political science and religious studies at the University of Bergen and the Norwegian School of Business, my husband and I eventually had three children. If I was efficient before I had children, I was even more efficient after. I was awarded Norway's Economics Student of the Year prize, and at both the University of Bergen and the Business School I was highly encouraged to pursue a Professorship. An amazing Professor eventually saw the reality and told me: "Silje - please do not become a Professor. You will be unhappy. You are far too restless. Fly!". I'm grateful for this advise today, and also for getting the opportunity to teach and set up my own courses at University at a young age.
Fall of 2006 defines the next crossroad in my life. I had just graduated from the Norwegian School of Business and given birth to my youngest child 10 days after submitting my Mastes Thesis, when I threw myself out on deep water to learn to swim. My daughter Oda had just started first grade when I realized that mobile phones were about to become part of everyday life for young children. After months of researching both statistics and the market, I decided to develop what I was looking for myself. Without technology skills or business experience I set out to develop a parental control service for children's mobile phones, and fall of 2010 Bipper was launched in partnership with Tele2 in Norway and VIVACOM in Bulgaria. The year after I launched the personal safety app bSafe which was developed for adolescent girls and women, but is now used by people of all ages and in all sectors around the world.
I am the proud winner of numerous awards for my efforts in developing safety technologies, as well as a founder and leader. Some of these are listed below. The one I'm the most proud of and which means the most to me in my day-to-day work is being honored as a Young Global Leader (YGL) of the World Economic Forum where I will serve for five years. Each year about 200 young people between 30 and 40 who have distinguished themselves as visionary leaders with a focus on creating a better world for all are selected as YGLs. As YGL I'm part of a tightly knit network of dedicated and inspiring people from around the world that both contribute to each other's projects and establishes new together. For an overview of Norwegian YGLs see here , and for global YGLs see here.
For the last three years I have been living in Silicon Valley and see this area as my second home - both in terms of network and culture. Summer of 2015 brought me back to Norway, my native home.