Helle Vines Ertsas with the HullSkater

May revolutionise the industry

In her early Jotun career, Helle Vines Ertsas worked with competence development and internal training. Today, she is fully occupied with the company’s most complex innovation ever.

“In Jotun, you can combine family life and a career. That’s extremely valuable”. 

Helle Vines Ertsas talks about the years in Dubai with husband, kids and cats. Her entire family joined in on the experience – now they all have returned to Sandefjord, Norway.  

The 48-year-old has enjoyed several different roles in her work career. After finishing engineering studies, Ertsaas got into the financial industry. She joined Jotun 14 years ago and is evidence that a career in the paints and coatings company may change direction underway. 

“In Jotun, you are encouraged to broaden your competence and seek experience in other countries, by applying for other roles within the company. In my opinion, this is very positive – both for the individual and for the company as a whole”, the 48-year-old explains.  

“Having different roles in a company, you acquire a much better understanding of the business”, she adds.  

Ertsas’ first role in Jotun was in Competence development, the department responsible for internal training. The object is to make sure the employees continue developing their skills in relevant areas. 

“I worked in Competence development when I was in Dubai and find this to be a very important part of Jotun. Gaining new insights and never stop learning is important in everyone’s work life. It makes sure you don’t stagnate”, Vines Ertsas says. 

After returning to Norway with her family, she took up a marketing role in Jotun’s segment for marine coatings. This is where she finds herself today. 

“It’s a very exciting part of Jotun to work in. At the same time, the things we do are quite challenging. The level of complexity is high, and several of our activities are brand new – both for Jotun as a company and for me personally. However, this is how I prefer it. I like challenges». 

Vines Ertsas has the position of Global Category Manager Hull Performance. Jotun’s main objective in this area is to protect ships’ hulls, and first of all it’s the autonomous robot Jotun HullSkater that makes sure her calendar is crammed. 

“The HullSkater has the potential of revolutionizing the industry. In short, our robot is always onboard the ship and cleans the ship’s hull while it’s at sea. This has never been done before, and there are several aspects of this exciting innovation that are completely new to us”, she says. 

For instance, Jotun develops the robot in cooperation with external partners. Among them is another Norwegian company, Kongsberg Maritime. 

“In Jotun, we do not have a long track-record of teaming up with external partners for our innovations, so this makes the whole thing extra complex. You need to carefully choose your partners, and I’m glad to say that we are very pleased with the ones we are cooperating with in this project”. 

“What is status for the HullSkater?”

“We have reached the so-called technical verification stage, where we are working with a few closely selected customers to verify what we have learnt in the lab works in real life. Today, the robot is on board several ships travelling the world. However, we still need a bit more time before we can do a full-scale launch”.