Connecting business students and international companies

Translation of article in the leading Norwegian bi-weekly financial magazine: Kapital #3 2018

“We make international placements available to students enrolled at the world’s top schools and universities,” says Gustaf S. Christensen in Highered. He is one of three founders of the company that has developed a platform where students from top accredited schools and universities can find internships and graduate positions in companies that are specifically looking for talents like them. Nike, PepsiCo, Volkswagen and Accenture are among the companies that are already using the platform. In Norway, large companies like Statoil, Yara International and Norges Bank Investment Management are also onboard.

“Kapital” meets Highered in the loft of an old stable at Madserud Gård, considered to be one of the most prominent addresses in Oslo. Highered has just signed a trial contract with Geely – the Chinese multinational automotive manufacturing company that acquired Volvo in 2009.

  • “In the course of one year we have gone from an idea to becoming an international company,” says Bernt Blankholm. He started Highered together with Gustaf Christensen and Erik Spade last year. They are still the largest shareholders but have raised +1 MUSD from external investors during 2017.

In short, Highered is a Norwegian HR-Tech company that has built the first truly global platform to connect students, schools and companies. During the first 8 months, they managed to get 300 schools and universities from 50 different countries onboard – spanning from China to the US and Australia. This means that companies can now easily reach and offer placement opportunities to students – across borders.

Highered is part of the EFMD network, which is an international organisation for approximately 900 business schools and companies in 88 different countries. EFMD is behind several school-accreditations such as EQUIS, which is only issued to schools considered to be in the top 1% of schools and universities in business and management.

More than 40.000 students from around the world have already registered on the platform. This number is increasing with approximately 2.000 students per week. At present more than 350 schools and universities are onboard.  Today we have more Chinese than Nordic students using our platform.

Students enter the Highered platform through their school´s website. To register on the platform, one needs to be an active student. Highered is therefore an exclusive network of high-quality students.

  • “It needs to be effective. Therefore, Highered has built a digital infrastructure the schools can plug into, and where companies can reach all schools through one single entry point,” says Christensen.

There has been an extreme growth in the number of students studying outside their home country. The number of international students has increased from 800.000 in 2000 to 4,5 million today, according to data from UNESCO.

  • A big challenge related to the growth in international students is for schools to facilitate placement for their international students and for international students to find relevant jobs. Recruitment of students is still fragmented, costly and has until now been done locally. Now this is changing quickly.

Today, recruitment of students and corporate presence at campus is usually limited to career fairs held at some schools.

  • Instead of being present at only a few career fairs and meeting a small share of the students enrolled at those specific schools, through Highered they are now able to meet students at the world’s top business schools 24-7.

With Highered the schools have the possibility to offer international job-opportunities to their students, while companies can put their brand in front of students at the best schools and universities globally – through one digital platform.

Highered is a service provided to all EFMD accredited schools and their students, free of charge, while the companies pay an annual fee to be present on the platform. Regarding the price, it is cheaper than posting positions at[1]. Within the first days of 2018, Nike signed up for a full membership, Bloomberg in Northern Europe has confirmed that they are onboard after a trial period and EY in the Nordics has signed a trial period for the two first quarters.

On average we post 100-200 new positions per week and have approximately 1.000 positions at any given time. All of them are international job opportunities that are relevant for business students.

  • “We work on behalf of the students and the best business schools in the world. For companies to be able to join our platform they need to match our students,” says Christensen. “Moving forward, we are in the process of getting more companies to join and establishing an office in Shanghai.”

“Now that we see that our engine works it is all about getting more companies onboard. The next step will be to establish offices abroad. With the Geely contract and a Chinese investor on our team we would like to establish an office in Shanghai,” says Christensen.

[1] Comment for non-Norwegians: Finn is by far the largest local job portal in Norway.