A better future is about more than energy

By Chief Financial Officer Tone Leivestad


In Norway, investors are very focused on renewable energy as an alternative to the oil and gas industry which has been the mainstay of our economy for so long. The government too has understandably focused much of its attention on how to maintain our economic stability in a post-oil era.

But things are starting to shift and Circa has already shown both the market and the policymakers that sustainable chemicals are also important for the transition to a cleaner future. At Circa, we absolutely believe in the role of renewable energy. We are even part of the solution as our biosolvent technology is showing promise in batteries production and recycling.

At Circa, we don’t believe there’s only one way out of the climate crisis. And neither do I.

We need multiple approaches across all parts of society and industry. Switching to more sustainable materials like renewable chemicals and plastics is critical not just for the environment but also for people’s health. For decades, we have not really questioned the products we use on a day-to-day basis and now we are dealing with the consequences.

The reason I was so keen to join Circa was to be part of the solution to creating more sustainable, safer products. I have a background in the production industries and I love a challenge so working for a start-up as it becomes a scale-up just after its IPO is the kind of mission I really enjoy.

Since coming on board, I’ve been able to guide Circa through the regulatory requirements of being a listed company, as well as working towards the ReSolute plant in Eastern France and the next plant, FC6. We have also hired the staff for the new corporate office in Oslo which opened in May. We just published our first annual report (link: https://circa-group.com/news/2021-annual-report/), going way beyond the basic requirements for compliance and taking the opportunity to tell our investors and community about our current projects, our partners and our vision.

One thing I’m particularly proud of is the dramatic shift in gender balance we’ve seen at Circa. Initially, Circa was a small team led by the Co-Founders and working with external researchers and consultants. The small Circa staff was 100% male and this is something the Board and the Co-Founders wanted to address as we grew the team, not for compliance reasons but because it makes sense to represent the society we operate in.

By the end of 2021, the gender balance at Circa was 64% male and 36% female, with a team made up of nine different nationalities across six countries. There’s still work to do on diversity, especially at Board level but within the space of 12 months, this was an impressive shift and I look forward to welcoming the new team to the Oslo office. Norway is pretty progressive but even here, only 8% of CEOs of companies listed on the stock exchange were female in 2020 according to Kapital magazine’s gender equality barometer (link: https://kapital.no/reportasjer/naeringsliv/2020/10/08/7571389/oslo-bors-er-fortsatt-en-sinke).

Gender balance at 1 January 2021 and 31 December 2021

Being part of a company that’s making a difference, not just on paper but in the real world, not in 30 years but now, is an important part of my motivation and also for the people I’ve hired.

We are all focused on a common goal, to getting Circa’s products adopted by mainstream manufacturers and to delivering new plants. We won’t wait until one plant is up and running to start work on the next. They are happening in parallel. I believe we can change the world and there’s no better motivation.

To hear more from Tone tune into her recent conversation on Aksjekaffe med Ida