Make next Telenor chief a woman, minister urges

The next chief executive of Telenor, state-owned international phone giant, would ideally be a woman, Norway’s industry minister has said, as the country seeks to end men’s continuing dominance of executive positions.

Make next Telenor chief a woman, minister urges
Telenor's outgoing chief executive Jon Baksaas, with Hilde Tonne, one of the woman candidates mooted to replace him. Photo: Berit Roald / Scanpix
Monica Mæland, a politician with Norway’s Conservative Party, told The Local that she was encouraging Telenor's board to keep in mind women suitable for the role. 
"The board of directors will assess a number of possible candidates , and I encourage them to be aware of female candidates in their search for a new CEO," she said. 
Norway's  VG  newspaper reported this week that that Mæland had stressed that the Industry ministry's February 5 white paper on ownership of public companies stated clearly that public companies should promote women to the top. 
“There is a clear signal. Women should be brought forward to leadership positions. We have too few women leaders in Norway,” she told the paper. “That does not mean we should necessarily have a female chief executive at Telenor, but they should be aware of the issue.” 
Norway in 2003 became the first country in the world to require that at least 40 percent of seats on the board of all public companies go to women, putting it at the forefront of gender equality in the workplace. 
More than a decade later, however, not one of the chief executives of Norway’s 32 biggest companies is a woman. 
Telenor chief executive Jon Fredrik Baksaas is scheduled to step down at the end of this year, with a man, Asia chief Sigve Brekke, the favourite to replace him, according to VG.  
The strongest female candidate is Berit Svendsen, 51, the chief executive of Telenor Norway, who would be a strong candidate if it wasn’t for her lack of international experience. 
Second in line is Hilde Tonne, the head of group industrial development, who gained international experience as Brekke deputy in Asia, and is slightly younger at 49. 
"The number of women holding executive posts in Norwegian companies remains low, at the same time as women account for more than half of those pursuing higher education in Norway,"  Viken Trond, head of communications at the ministry told The Local. "Company succession planning should incorporate strategies for making the most of leading expertise in the company, including how to encourage more women to seek senior management positions." 


Putellas becomes second Spanish footballer in history to win Ballon d’Or

Alexia Putellas of Barcelona and Spain won the women's Ballon d'Or prize on Monday, becoming only the second Spanish-born footballer in history to be considered the best in the world, and claiming a win for Spain after a 61-year wait.

FC Barcelona's Spanish midfielder Alexia Putellas poses after being awarded thewomen's Ballon d'Or award.
FC Barcelona's Spanish midfielder Alexia Putellas poses after being awarded thewomen's Ballon d'Or award. Photo: FRANCK FIFE / AFP

Putellas is the third winner of the prize, following in the footsteps of Ada Hegerberg, who won the inaugural women’s Ballon d’Or in 2018, and United States World Cup star Megan Rapinoe, winner in 2019.

Putellas captained Barcelona to victory in this year’s Champions League, scoring a penalty in the final as her side hammered Chelsea 4-0 in Gothenburg.

She also won a Spanish league and cup double with Barca, the club she joined as a teenager in 2012, and helped her country qualify for the upcoming Women’s Euro in England.

Her Barcelona and Spain teammate Jennifer Hermoso finished second in the voting, with Sam Kerr of Chelsea and Australia coming in third.

It completes an awards double for Putellas, who in August was named player of the year by European football’s governing body UEFA.

But it’s also a huge win for Spain as it’s the first time in 61 years that a Spanish footballer – male or female – is crowned the world’s best footballer of the year, and only the second time in history a Spaniard wins the Ballon d’Or. 

Former Spanish midfielder Luis Suárez (not the ex Liverpool and Barça player now at Atlético) was the only Spanish-born footballer to win the award in 1960 while at Inter Milan. Argentinian-born Alfredo Di Stefano, the Real Madrid star who took up Spanish citizenship, also won it in 1959.

Who is Alexia Putellas?

Alexia Putellas grew up dreaming of playing for Barcelona and after clinching the treble of league, cup and Champions League last season, her status as a women’s footballing icon was underlined as she claimed the Ballon d’Or on Monday.

Unlike the men’s side, Barca’s women swept the board last term with the 27-year-old, who wears “Alexia” on the back of her shirt, at the forefront, months before Lionel Messi’s emotional departure.

Attacker Putellas, who turns 28 in February, spent her childhood less than an hour’s car journey from the Camp Nou and she made her first trip to the ground from her hometown of Mollet del Valles, for the Barcelona derby on January 6, 2000.

Barcelona's Spanish midfielder Alexia Putellas (R) vies with VfL Wolfsburg's German defender Kathrin Hendrich
Putellas plays as a striker for Barça and Spain. GABRIEL BOUYS / POOL / AFP

Exactly 21 years later she became the first woman in the modern era to score in the stadium, against Espanyol. Her name was engraved in the club’s history from that day forward, but her story started much earlier.

She started playing the sport in school, against boys.

“My mum had enough of me coming home with bruises on my legs, so she signed me up at a club so that I stopped playing during break-time,” Putellas said last year.

So, with her parent’s insistence, she joined Sabadell before being signed by Barca’s academy.

“That’s where things got serious… But you couldn’t envisage, with all one’s power, to make a living from football,” she said.

After less than a year with “her” outfit, she moved across town to Espanyol and made her first-team debut in 2010 before losing to Barca in the final of the Copa de la Reina.

She then headed south for a season at Valencia-based club Levante before returning “home” in July 2012, signing for Barcelona just two months after her father’s death.

In her first term there she helped Barca win the league and cup double, winning the award for player of the match in the final of the latter competition.