Norcod Appoints New Managing Director


Published Apr 16, 2020 9:14 PM by The Maritime Executive

Norwegian aquaculture venture Norcod is pleased to announce it has appointed Hilde Rutledal Storhaug as its new managing director effective from 1 May. 

The decision to recruit a new MD was taken in light of the company’s planned growth over the next few years, and in collaboration with current incumbent Rune Eriksen. Eriksen will continue as Production Director also with responsibility for other key functions.

“We’re delighted Hilde will be joining our leadership team. She is the perfect match to take us to the next level,” said Eriksen. “I’m looking forward to having her experience and competence on board. It’s a winning constellation to secure the company’s success.” 

Norcod’s revolutionary plan to farm cod on an industrial scale has sparked a lot of positive attention. It raised NOK 105m (EUR 10.5m) in its latest investment round in February, in a resounding vote of confidence from investors. 

‘Common understanding’

Storhaug found herself on same page as the Norcod principals early on. The company’s slogan of ´people, cod and nature`chimed perfectly with her own values. “We had a common understanding of the potential of cod farming to become a highly successful industry, given the impressive biological progress that has been made and other favourable conditions,” she said. “Like them, I’m convinced the timing is right for a new commercial species to consolidate its place in the aquaculture business.”

Storhaug says Norcod is the result of thorough analysis and risk assessment by major shareholder Sirena Group, and she is very much aligned with the approach taken to date. “Norcod has taken a strong stand regarding sustainability and aims to deliver the planet’s most responsibly produced protein for human consumption. As such it is very well placed to become an industry pioneer and leader,” she said. “The biomass is performing very well and the owners are solid.”

Maximising fish performance

Production-wise Storhaug’s goal is to embed what has already been achieved while searching for new competitive advantages. “In fish farming, optimising fish performance is everything, from sufficient fry supply and suitable sea sites to premium fish feed. Robust support for the existing strategy reinforces my thoughts entirely,” she said. Investors have indicated they will continue to support the company in future funding rounds.

She jumped at the chance to join a young venture with a lot of value at stake. “To work with a strong team and take a leading role in an exciting, sustainable and forward-looking business was an opportunity not to be missed,” she said.

The company is on track for more milestones in the next three years. “More sea sites will be stocked with fry, the first harvest is planned for Q3 2021, and we hope to secure more sea locations and licenses,” she said. “We have our work cut out!”

Data analysis

Storhaug says biology in a commercial context always holds surprises. “Different batches of fry put to sea will most likely perform differently. By continuously collecting and analysing production data, we will work towards finding the key to predictable growth and reliable prognoses for our marketing and sales division,” she said.

Customised technology solutions and digitalisation will be important in both the short and long term. Storhaug cites as examples providing the sea sites with equipment for biomass control while leveraging digital tools to ensure efficient communication across the organisation to meet management, legal and regulatory requirements. 

Expanding team

Norcod has also recently added quite a few other team members, and will continue to take on new personnel in line with its production goals. A new sea location is set to be opened shortly. “It’s also important to establish trust and interaction with local communities where our core business is located. We want to create jobs and help to recruit new talent to the industry by taking on apprentices, for example at our fish farms,” Storhaug said.

Meanwhile, Eriksen says the current Covid-19 crisis will not directly impact the company. “We have taken precautions and made back-up plans to ensure this remains the case,” he said. “We believe securing food production is and will be even more important in the future, and Norcod hopes to play an important role in that endeavour.”

Born for the business

Married with two children, Storhaug has a bachelor’s degree in aquaculture and is about to complete an MBA from Nord University. Prior to joining seafood and aquaculture data providers Kontali Analyse two years ago she gained wide hands-on experience in salmon farming as well as halibut and cod at top industry players.

Growing up in the coastal municipality of Gulen, she was inspired early on by the tremendous value generated locally by fisheries and aquaculture. “Choosing an education related to the seafood business was a natural step,” she said.

On purpose

She is looking forward to taking the plunge into what will be her first top job. “As a former fish farm site manager, I understand the value of being clear and purposeful. I want to ensure we never doubt what we’re doing, and what we’re aiming for,” she said. 

Encouraging trust in the competence of each team member is crucial. “I want to develop a collaborative environment that enhances value creation,” she said. She cites the ability to listen, plan ahead and take effective action as the essence of good leadership. 

On a personal level, Storhaug says being part of the aquaculture industry is something to be proud of. “Providing a sustainable, high-quality product that enhances people’s health is a huge motivation,” she said. 

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