Raymond Carlsen was born in the southern Norwegian city of Larvic in 1955. His father served in the Army and Raymond grew up in a military camp near Elverum, Norway. As a kid, Raymond played football, competed in track & field, and was an avid cross-country skier. He started at the University of Stavanger with a major in ‘oil and gas engineering’, but after the 1977 Bravo blowout, the largest oil spill in the North Sea at the time, he switched his studies to environmental engineering and attended Florida Tech. Here he first “dabbled” in solar power in 1980 and witnessed the live launch of the space shuttle Columbia on April 12th, 1981.
After graduating, Raymond returned to his home country of Norway, eager to uncover his next opportunity to influence. He took a chance on oil and gas, “the cleaner side” of the business he explains, starting what would evolve into a 20+ year career in the industry by making sure that the produced water was pure enough to be put back in the ocean.
The oil and gas industry would eventually lead him to Kværner in 1989, where he was a part of building up this industrial process engineering and construction newcomer – eventually helping it expand internationally. He once again seized opportunities that life presented and moved his family to Southeast Asia for the company. Raymond is quick to credit his wife and kids for their support and strength as they adventured with him around the world over the years, transforming them into the family of global citizens they are today.
Even with his family as his firm foundation, Raymond found himself in an unprecedented situation while working for Kværner in Malaysia – one in which attaining success didn’t follow Raymond’s typical formula.
“Up until the point I moved to Kuala Lumpur, I’d considered myself fairly successful. But my usual methods for success did not work in this environment, and it humbled me.”
He may not have known it at the time, but this struggle to adapt was an essential lesson for the leader Raymond would become. After Kuala Lumpur and Jakarta, he would move on to Singapore, and later, as part of the Aker Group, he relocated to Houston to head Aker Subsea. He left Aker in 2009, with his sights set on a new adventure. He was ready to build something again, he says, something closer to his environmental roots. And that’s when he got the call from a nascent solar start-up called Scatec.
“I came in as CEO and we hit the ground running. I saw before me a sea of opportunities across the solar value chain, from development, to construction, to selling power. We started off small, but things changed quickly.”
Early on, Raymond targeted the world outside of Norway for his burgeoning solar business. South Africa was one of the company’s first opportunities beyond Europe, and when it came time, Raymond ended up being the only willing executive to make the move, knowing how important cultural understanding was to their eventual success.
Raymond calls Cape Town “the best place I’ve ever lived”. He was there for three years, building and delivering, leading the growing, global company a continent away, eventually taking it public in 2014.
With Raymond at the helm for the past 13 years, the Scatec team has expanded to 622 employees representing around 51 different nationalities, with operations in 26 countries. The company has grown beyond its solar roots and is stretching its ambitions across the renewable power portfolio. Raymond’s team has read the horizon well and is meeting the renewables revolution head on with targeted moves into hydropower and green ammonia.
It comes down to seizing the opportunities to influence – to be in lead, take the risks and see what’s possible. “I never did understand the companies who said they wanted to be a close second,” Raymond says.
How did Florida Tech help prepare you for your career?
I was exposed to students from all around the world and that helped me to prepare for the international career I later embarked on.
What advice or words of wisdom do you have for students and recent graduates?
Every decision you make is an opportunity to influence. Always take initiative and see how you can assist in creating a better solution for all involved.
What was your most memorable experience at Florida Tech?
The social gatherings after the soccer matches at the campus.
Who was your favorite faculty member (or other mentors or role models)?
Dr. Jennings. A great mentor for me being a foreign student
What accomplishments are you most proud of?
Having lived on four continents and established many companies. Most lately Scatec that is a leading renewable company within solar, wind, hydropower, batteries and green hydrogen/ammonia
If you were contacted by a student or recent graduate—what could you offer them?
I will be happy to provide advice to their professional careers if a foreign assignment is of interest