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Determination, Discipline, and Domination – Benjamin Haldorsen: NHH Norwegian School Of Economics

Benjamin Haldorsen
Benjamin Haldorsen

Determination, resilience, an appetite for success and a dedication to self-improvement. Such qualities can be typically found on the CV or personal statement of anyone seeking to gain entry to the C-Suite – a seat at the table in the boardroom. The same skillset can also be found in the locker rooms and on the courts and pitches of any sport in the world – from ping-pong to football.

Indeed, professional athletes share a skillset and an attitude akin to many of the most successful and ambitious leaders in industry today, so it’s hardly a surprise that so many of the world’s sporting elite find their way to business education, and excel at it. Whether to satisfy their consistent desire for professional growth and improvement or to set in place a plan B – a way to continue their legacies when their sporting glories are behind them, business schools around the world are opening their doors to students from less stereotypical backgrounds such as sports, recognising the value such individuals can bring.

In this BlueSky Thinking mini-series, we sit down with sporting stars around the world, transforming the attitudes, values and ambitions developed through lifelong competition to the classroom. Here they share how their own experiences have helped to shape their futures, and provide learning opportunities for those around them.

Name: Benjamin Haldorsen

School: NHH Norwegian School of Economics

Programme: BSc in Economics and Business Administration

Nationality: Norwegian

Tell us a little about yourself. Where did your journey in competitive sports begin? How have you grown as an athlete over the years? 

I am a 24-year-old student and chess player from Bergen, Norway, currently studying at the Norwegian School of Economics. My journey in competitive sports began at the age of six when I first started playing chess.

Over the years, I have actively participated in national and international tournaments, continuously honing my chess skills by gaining a lot of experience. Among my notable achievements, I am proud to have won the Norwegian Blitz Championship in 2018. 

Additionally, in 2022, I was invited to participate in the World Rapid and Blitz Championship held in Kazakhstan, where I faced formidable opponents from around the globe.

Through my exciting journey as a chess player, I have refined my analytical skills, strategic planning, and mental resilience, all of which have played significant roles in shaping my development as a competitive player. 

Studying and training for competitions must take up a lot of time. How do you balance your busy timetable, so that you are able to perform both academically and athletically? 

Balancing the demands of higher education and training for chess competitions is a challenging task. In order to ensure optimal performance in both academics and chess, I have adopted a strategic approach to managing my busy timetable.

Throughout the academic year, I split up my schedule, prioritising chess training and tournaments at the beginning of each semester. This allows me to allocate dedicated time and energy to improve my chess skills when preparing for upcoming tournaments. Conversely, during exam periods, I shift my focus primarily towards my studies, ensuring I have ample time for thorough preparation and academic success.

The dual commitment to excelling in both arenas may sometimes feel challenging, but it has instilled in me a sense of structure and efficiency. By being disciplined and employing effective time management techniques, I strive for a harmonious balance between my academic and athletic pursuits. 

Are there scholarships/schemes/facilities at NHH that have helped you keep competing in sports while studying? If so, how have they helped you?

NHH has been supportive and flexible in assisting me with balancing my commitments in chess and academia. They have granted me exemptions from attending certain classes in person, allowing me to allocate more time to training and competing. 

My financial support is primarily from the chess club, Offerspill, founded by former world champion Magnus Carlsen. However, NHH’s indirect support by being one of Europe’s leading business schools, fostering my academic growth while providing me with enough flexibility to participate in tournaments, has been instrumental for my success the last three years.  

“My time as a sportsperson has shaped my determination, discipline, and strategic thinking, qualities that I believe will positively influence my professional pursuits”

Business and sports are both highly competitive environments. Have you found there are advantages from having a foot in both worlds? And if so, how have these advantages shaped your time at business school? 

Having a foot in both worlds has exposed me to several exciting opportunities that have shaped my time at business school. One significant advantage is the opportunity to interact with successful business professionals through chess-related events. These encounters and discussions have provided valuable insights into key factors for success in business, and given me a practical understanding of the concepts taught in business school.

These first-hand exposures to real-world-leading businesses and professionals have enriched my learning experience and expanded my perspective as a business student. By bridging the gap between theory and practice through meetings with world-leading masters in business and chess, I have increased my understanding of practical business concepts and key success factors, that may hopefully help me in my future endeavours.

Finally, what are your future plans? How do you see your time as a sportsperson shaping the rest of your career? And how will your studies also provide career opportunities in the short and the long-term? 

In the short-term, my future plans include both chess and academic pursuits, aiming to explore and reach my full potential within the sport. However, in the long-run, my focus will shift towards building a career in the business world. Currently, I am particularly interested in finance, but I remain open and flexible to adapt to potential opportunities that may arise.

My time as a sportsperson has shaped my determination, discipline, and strategic thinking, qualities that I believe will positively influence my professional pursuits. My studies in business provide a solid foundation and open doors to various career opportunities, enabling me to apply my analytical skills and business acumen in the pursuit of both the short- and long-term goals. 

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