Moving into growth

May 09 | 2023

An interview with Runar Nilsen, CEO of Santa Fe, as the company’s transformation becomes complete.

Runar NilsenA press release from Santa Fe in January announced the seemingly minor change in the company’s management with Runar Nilsen, who had been the company’s deputy CEO for the last four years, moving up to CEO.  At the same time, Yann Blandy, the previous CEO, moved to become the company’s executive chairman.  The announcement included some other senior management changes which, put together, punctuated a significant change for the company that marked its transition from a period of reconstruction, into more stable growth.  Although the company had undergone a somewhat tumultuous time in the last few years, comparative normality had returned.

Although the change in Runar’s position at first sight appeared somewhat cosmetic, in fact, he explained, it did mark a very different role for himself for the immediate future. “When we took over the company in 2019 we (him and Yann) divided the work up between us as a team,” he explained. “Yann managed the day-to-day business while I looked after the restructuring and all the change processes, as well as group functions. We had a plan to restructure and make this business great again, then a small thing called COVID came along. That was not in our plan. The mission quickly changed from ‘turn around’ to crisis management.”

Despite the distractions of the pandemic the plan was successful with 2022 being, according to Runar, a good year. “That was when we began to see the light at the end of the tunnel.” 2023 has also started well, so the time was right for a change. “As we begin to think more about longer-term growth and profitability, we decided that we didn't need two full-time CEOs anymore.  It was time for me to take over the day-to-day management with Yann operating as executive chairman.”

As the man in charge of one of the industry’s larger organisations, and a major employer, we should reflect on Runar’s track history, none of which involved relocation until four years ago ...

Photo: Runar Nilsen.

Click here to read the full story in The Mover magazine.

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