A long and winding path

Steinar Haugberg
jun 22
5 min read

Hi, my name is Steinar, and I am Senior Communications Manager at Project Neon. I’m here to ensure that our clients are visible in the media, driving communication initiatives and help positioning companies where they want to be in the industry conversation and public perception.

Thinking back, I can easily determine that reading was the gateway to the communications profession. And in many ways, literature has informed my lifetime career choices as I have had a distinctly non-linear career path, from journalism to bookseller and IT project manager and back to communications.

As a kid, the school library was my secret paradise. An expat kid in Africa and Asia, I was painfully shy and slow in making friends. As we normally did not get together with other children on the weekdays, I spent a lot of time reading in the library. It was all children’s adventure series of course, stuff you just devour at a certain age. I am still teased by family for being spotted in gym class on the football field, calmly reading a book some distance behind the opposing team’s goal…

In my teens, I discovered two other passions that have defined my career: Photography and computers. While many people are more into the technical side of these subjects, I cared deeply about what I could create with a camera or a computer. Diving into film photography (at that time) and basic computer coding, I really enjoyed the creative side of making images or code that fulfilled a purpose.

My first published story was in the inflight magazine for Thai Airways, a whimsical account of a train ride in Myanmar. A thrill, but not a livelihood. I found that at a small local paper in Northern Norway. The job was all-round journalist/photographer, and the paper was known for investing as little as possible in a young staff willing to work long hours. I loved it, and I learned every aspect of local journalism. Other media jobs followed, but after 10 years in the media landscape in Norway had shifted a lot.

Then, one night, I was out drinking beer with a photographer buddy.

At a neighbouring table, I picked up a conversation on a local bookstore that was for sale. Rushing home, I broke the news to my wife, also a journalist. Three weeks later, we signed the contract and became the owners of a 125-year-old bookstore, straight out of “Notting Hill”. Less the beautiful movie stars, of course.

A typical choice for restless me, where the unknown beckons and I follow the Pippi Longstocking motto: “I have never tried that before, so I think I should definitely be able to do it.” But being a business owner is a whole world of different challenges. Suddenly, you’re the one in charge and can make all the decisions, and just as suddenly you are responsible for a whole lot more money and financial commitments than you used to be.

But the fun parts outweigh the serious bits. I used my computer knowledge to start Norway’s third internet bookseller from our kitchen table. We invited authors to do readings and special appearances, we had bun bonanzas to serve customers some days, and we had kids coming in with their parents to find just the right first book they would be able to read on their own. I loved opening the shop, pausing on the front step to look up and down the pedestrian street, smell the crisp seaside air and wonder what the day would bring.

My interest for the benefits computers bring, as later has morphed into a professional stint as an IT project manager for an international IT consultancy. I have my views of the downsides of digital in many arenas, but I am proud to have worked on a host of digitalization tools that make public services more accessible and help businesses profit. As usual, my digital focus is on the benefits of the tools rather than the technology itself.

This is also something I bring to communications management. I prefer to cut through the fluff and highlight the benefits of an initiative or technology in practical terms and what it does for the people and companies using them.

But sitting at a computer is not what I prefer to do outside office hours. I enjoy being physically active, preferably outdoors, either on a racing or offroad bike, or rock climbing and hiking. I also do quite a bit of DIY and redecoration work, along with some finer woodworking and cabinetry in my workshop. Add an extended family and interests for photography, international news and literature to this mix, and you can appreciate that life is busy! I do occasionally hit the couch, but end up being bored after an hour.

– Steinar

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