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From extracting oil to generating transformations: Reflections on cCHANGE’s leadership program

Veslemøy Klavenes-Berge, sustainability advisor and podcast creator, shares her reflections on cCHANGE's leadership program for people working to solve sustainability and climate change challenges.Read More

Veslemøy Klavenes-Berge lives in Tønsberg, Norway, where she now works on different projects related to climate and sustainability after a long career in the oil industry.

In this interview with the cCHANGE team, Veslemøy shares her reflections on cCHANGE’s Transformational Leadership for Sustainability (TLFS) program and how she is working to bring about transformative change.

Finding the Transformational Leadership program

Veslemøy obtained her degree in Petroleum Geophysics and worked for most of her life in the oil industry. Despite decades of warnings by scientists, she stayed blissfully ignorant to the environmental impacts of the oil industry.

“Climate change was just too much of an uncomfortable reality for all of us. I truly was in a bubble or echo chamber where everything I did was kind of justified by my surroundings.”

Her career path drastically changed when she lost her job in 2016 as a result of the downturn in the oil industry. She enrolled in Al Gore’s Climate Reality Leadership program to learn how to communicate about climate change.

“That was kind of an awakening for me and led me to change the direction of my career. I have been working in the field of sustainability ever since. I started reading everything I could on climate change and sustainability.”

She now works as a sustainability advisor in addition to coordinating different local sustainability projects and has started her own company to help people bring about the transformative changes they would like to see in society. She also produces and hosts the Stories for the Future podcast series, in which she interviews inspiring people about their visions for a sustainable future.

While exploring her new sector, Veslemøy got to know about the TLFS program through cCHANGE’s co-founder, Professor Karen O’Brien.

“The moment I found out about the program, I was like ‘wow, this is exactly what I am looking for in this new stage of my career!’”

Life changing insights

Participating in the TLFS program in 2020 helped Veslemøy become more aware of and clarify the values she stands for – compassion, courage and connectedness – for herself and others.

“It was so meaningful for me to be truly and deeply aware of what I stand for. My personal values continue to serve as my North Star in everything I do and allow me to observe when I am out of integrity.”  

Veslemøy recounts how the program has helped her handle interpersonal conflict and tensions. “Now I remain in integrity by grounding my responses in my values.”

Knowing what she deeply cares about enables her to be ‘unmessable with’.

A new way of working

In her work, Veslemøy focuses on new forms of collaboration between the public sector, the private sector, and individuals.

“I use the transformative results chain from the program a lot. I am now able to take the impact that I want to see as an entry point in all of my projects, and identify relevant outcomes, outputs, and inputs based on that. This transformative way of working is the opposite of how I used to work in the past!”

Participating in the TLFS program also made Veslemøy aware of the many societal ‘background conversations’ that are hindering us from achieving deep sustainability. “Society, including the sustainability sector, is becoming increasingly polarized. I see a lot of ‘us-versus-them’ and ‘either-or’ type of thinking.

I can talk about transformations to sustainability as much as I want, but I will fail to bring about the changes I want to see if I do not reach the people outside my bubble. The TLFS program has fortunately provided me with the tools I need to build bridges and facilitate a dialogue between different groups in society.”

Read more about cCHANGE’s Transformational Leadership for Sustainability Program starting in September 2022: https://transformational-leadership.no/

Image: Veslemøy Klavnes-Berge (Credit: Byavisa Tønsberg)

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