Greetings from Alumni: Nora Steiner-Forsberg, General Counsel, Fortum Corporation
20 October 2021
This time in our Greetings from Alumni series, you will meet our alumna Nora Steiner-Forsberg, who works as a general counsel at Fortum Corporation. During her time at Hannes between 2005 and 2009, Nora worked as a senior associate in our Competition and EU Law Practice.
Hi Nora, how are you? How has the autumn been so far?
It has been good, thank you. We at Fortum have started to work in the new normal, in a hybrid model where we’re gradually getting back to the office. It feels really good, efficient, and energising to meet colleagues and stakeholders in person.
You work as a general counsel at Fortum Corporation. Can you tell us a bit about your main responsibilities?
I am a member of Fortum’s Executive Management Team and secretary to the Board of Directors. My responsibilities include all the traditional aspects of a general counsel, i.e. ensuring legal support and compliance, but that is not all — I am pleased contribute to group management also from a business perspective. Our company is navigating through the energy transition, which is one of the biggest challenges of our time. In managing the change, regulation plays a significant role, and here I see a great opportunity for my function to make a difference with our expertise.
You have worked in different positions at Fortum since 2011. Can you tell us more about your career journey at Fortum — what has been your source of motivation?
I’ve been with Fortum for ten years now. My role has evolved over time from an expert role to a broader leadership role: first as a member of a business area management team and as of spring 2021 as a member of the group’s management team. I am also a member in the Supervisory Board of our subsidiary Uniper SE in Germany.
I have always been a person who very much likes to learn new things, and going outside my comfort zone has not been an issue for me. My background as an antitrust lawyer has provided a good foundation to familiarise me with the energy markets, and I have built new elements on that step by step. I am also a very pragmatic person and I get motivation from getting things done — clear advice and concrete results — that is great.
Fortum Corporation is heading towards a more sustainable world in its business. What kind of sustainability themes do you deal with as a general counsel?
My work relates very much to our company’s strategy to drive change for a cleaner world, and sustainability is embedded into all parts of my work in one way or the other. We are transforming our own power generation towards carbon neutrality in Europe by 2035 and want to secure a fast and reliable transition for our customers providing clean energy and sustainable solutions. We are well positioned for the task, as we already are the 3rd largest producer of CO2-free electricity in the EU and a large provider of gas, which we intend to make clean over time.
The transition to carbon neutrality is a monumental challenge for our societies, and the pressure to decarbonise is on the shoulders of decision-makers everywhere. For the joint mission to be successful, it needs to take into account the interests of energy consumers who want to have access to clean, reliable, and affordable energy also in the future. Importantly, it also needs to take into account the interests of us energy producers. Companies must be able to trust the stability of the regulatory environment to be able to do the necessary investments into new, clean energy production and innovative solutions — retroactive, uncompensated changes to regulation are not in anyone’s interest in the long run. It is crucial that the society also ensures that, for example, decisions on zoning and permitting for new energy production are done in a timely manner and that the necessary investments in transmission capacity and other infrastructure are taken care of. Together with the society, we also need to make sure that when clean energy production is replacing fossil-based production, the transition is also fair for the employees working at the retiring power plants.
During your time at Hannes, you worked as a senior associate. What was the most valuable learning you took with you when you moved forward from Hannes?
I had great colleagues in the team, and I learned a lot from them substance-wise. I also learned a lot about client work — how to frame the advice in a way that is useful and user-friendly for the client. I of course also made many contacts that have been valuable in later parts of my career as well.
What advice would you now give to yourself if this were your first day at law school?
Do not decide too early what you want to do or do not want to do. All experiences in work life will be useful, and your career may take you to roles you had not planned for — remain open for such opportunities. And whatever career path you may choose, make sure that you enjoy the journey!