Although Norway ranks as one of the smallest European countries in terms of population, it nevertheless has a thriving AV industry. Describing his company Viju as a "big player in a small market," Svein-Erik Jensen, CTS®, Senior Director of Competence and Quality at the 18-year-old systems integration company, which also operates in the U.K., U.S. and Singapore, is leading the charge in education and certification in Norway.
Jensen himself was one of the first people to become CTS certified in Norway, after transitioning to AV from the IT industry, where certification is traditionally more commonplace.
"When I started at Viju in 2007 and moved into a managerial role, having come from IT I was used to working with people who had professional education and certification, and I was seeking the best way of educating our people," he says. "I felt that, yes it's good to have educated staff but there is value for the customer as well, so they could be certain that they were working with a company that had a high level of competence. Being that it was not vendor-specific, the certification was exactly what I was looking for."
Since then, Viju has embraced the CTS certification, to the point that now, almost all of its technical staff are CTS certified.
"We motivated people to become educated and we said, 'you can go to ISE and take the certification exam and you can also be at the exhibition; it's important for your career and it's important for Viju,'" he says. "Now all of our project managers, presale engineers, designers, programmers and consultants take the exam."
The result has been better performing staff members who have a greater sense of pride in their work, according to Jensen. Everybody wears their CTS badges on a lanyard around their necks, he says. "The benefits are immeasurable. It's good for us as a business, and provides something that distinguishes us as a pro-AV company and not just a company that sells AV equipment."
Customers in Norway now recognize the CTS certification and many include it as a requirement in their tenders. And that was a direct result of Viju continuing to emphasize it when talking to clients as well as its continuing investment in the education and certification of its staff. "Now our two largest competitors in Norway have followed suit, so there are a lot of people in Norway with the CTS certification. It's established and well known in the industry here."
For his part, Jensen says that his involvement with AVIXA has enabled him to learn so much more about the business and how it operates in other countries. He became part of AVIXA's European Council and is actively involved in growing AVIXA awareness throughout Europe: promoting education, certification and AVIXA standards, as well as speaking out in favor of a longer test time for non-native speakers who often struggle with the language. "As colleagues, we can work together to improve things," he says. "In Norway, it's small steps: you start with your own company and then others will follow. We have proven that, and seen the effects and benefits of that. The more educated the workforce, the better."