We are honoring Bjorn as a leading financial manager and entrepreneur whose success has enabled him to support educational, athletic and cultural causes that have benefited people across the United States and in his home country of Norway.
Why did you choose to attend UW-Madison?
My dream in high school was to go to the University of Wisconsin and that was made possible when the university gave me a scholarship to attend after I had been accepted to the College of Engineering. Otherwise, I would not have been able to attend college.
Which classes had the greatest impact on you?
Statistics, cost analysis, manufacturing, advanced engineer drawing were the most interesting courses. My interest in these areas led me to extend my education by attending the Harvard Business School and obtaining a master’s degree in business. This combination of a degree in engineering and business led me to a career in financial engineering.
As a student, how did you spend your free time?
I didn’t have much free time because I worked several hours per day to help pay school expenses. I was a member of the Hoofers outdoor club, participating in ski activities. I continued ski jumping as a member of the Blackhawk Ski Club in Middleton. I was a member of the Scandinavian Club which had a strong relationship with the Scandinavian students attending UW on the Brittingham Viking Scholarship Program.
I am an alpine and cross-country skier and an avid ocean sailor. When not traveling, I am spending time trying to keep up with the education and athletic endeavors of my 10 grandchildren, ages 6 to 20.
Anyone you’d like to mention?
So many people have had influence in my life but none more than my wife, Kathy; our three grown children, Kaia, Randi and Jon-Erik; and 10 grandchildren.
Anything else you’d like to tell us?
I immigrated to the United States from Norway after World War II with my parents. Our family home was lost when our town was bombed. We were fortunate, and I am grateful, that my parents decided to start a new life in America and settle in the small rural town of Strum, Wisconsin—a community of second- and third-generation Norwegians, making the transition to life in America so much easier. I will forever be thankful to the University of Wisconsin for the scholarship granted to start me on the path to success.