2022 Vic.ai Company-wide Retreat: Our Adventure in Oslo, Norway
Marketing & Events Coordinator
Get an inside look into Vic.ai's first ever company-wide retreat to Oslo, Norway that took place this past July! From scavenger hunts across Oslo, to a dinner cruise through the fjords, our global team had the amazing opportunity to gather and connect face to face.
August 26, 2022
4 min read
Our retreat to Norway is the first company-wide retreat Vic.ai has hosted since expanding our team outside of the Nordics, allowing a global team to gather, meet, and connect in person. While we spend most of our typical days in and out of Zoom meetings and slack messages, it was refreshing to speak face to face with team members from other departments, and more excitingly, from other countries!
The majority of the Vic.ai team arrived in Oslo between Sunday night and Monday afternoon, checking into our hotel and adjusting to the new time difference. With Norway being in Scandinavia, the travel days for most of the team were 9 hours or more! Despite the jetlag and the exhaustion of traveling, we couldn’t help but be excited to be in a new country and finally meet our remote team in person. We chose to stay at the Clarion Hotel the Hub, which is owned by our client, Nordic Choice Hotels.
Our first night began with a delicious welcome dinner at our hotel's rooftop! With an array of hors d'oeuvres and drinks available, we were all invited to enjoy and socialize amongst ourselves before taking on the activities of the next day. Our Co-founders Kristoffer Roil and Alex Hagerup made sure to introduce themselves fully to everyone individually, as well as deliver a warm welcoming speech to officially kick off our time in Oslo!
Tuesday began with a warm breakfast, chocolate croissants, and copious amounts of coffee as we worked our way to the conference room. Here, our executive team delivered personal presentations about who they each are, where they are from, and what they do here at Vic.ai. We had the pleasure of hearing from execs that are veterans at Vic.ai, such as Zak Stratton, VP of Product, Joerg Joergensen, our CFO, and Kris Roil, Co-founder and COO, as well as some of Vic.ai’s newer additions such as our Chief Growth Officer Aditi Charnoubi, Sajeela Padder, our new Chief of Staff, and our newest addition, Anna Klombies, our SVP of People! This was actually Anna’s first day on the job.
This, of course, only happened after an intense icebreaker hosted by Phil Sweeney, our Head of Sales Development and Operations! Everyone in the room was quickly immersed in a Rock, Paper, Scissors tournament, allowing us to run around looking for opponents, and cheering our winners to victory! Not only did this help everyone get comfortable, but it also allowed us to bond, more like heavy debate, over the rules of Rock Paper Scissors. Who says Rock paper scissors AND shoot? The answer is no one until that day!
After the executive presentations, we walked together to take a group photo in front of the Oslo Opera house.
We then ate lunch together at the hotel and prepared ourselves for our next adventure: an afternoon scavenger Hunt - Amazing Race themed across Oslo!
We were divided into teams, and met up at an escape room 10 minutes from our hotel. Each team was given briefcases full of maps, puzzles, and clues so we could solve mysteries all over Oslo. The search was on! This allowed us to both sight see, and explore the hidden gems located within the city. The scavenger hunt was both intense and hard, not to mention a great workout! The day ended with a fantastic dinner at Arts Restaurant where we ate full meals that left us ready for the next day.
“Overall, the trip had a massive positive impact on the relationships with everyone at the company. It allowed us to get to know each person face to face vs the two minutes of small talk you may have prior to a meeting starting. Since coming back I have noticed productivity increase because you know how to work with someone once you know them.” Ryan Krueger, Enterprise Sales Engineer
On Wednesday we gathered in the conference room to hear a featured guest speaker before attending Breakout sessions. These included sessions on social responsibility, a look into product and tech, and a session on sales tactics we use here at Vic.ai! Not only did these breakout sessions allow us more time to meet and bond with each other, but it also allowed us to get a glimpse into the everyday responsibilities of other departments. The breakout sessions were followed by a filling lunch, which we needed to prepare us for our group activities!
We had the opportunity to choose from a variety of different activities we wanted to attend including:
“I went on the kayaking tour, which was super fun, even when I capsized in front of like 20 people... it was beautiful to see the city this way and so fun to see people lounging on the river banks and enjoying the sunny weather” - Russell Mohr, Sales Engineering
“Ziplining with my colleagues was a blast! Norwegian ropes courses are no joke. We started out on easy ropes courses, then progressed to the harder ones. I was definitely sore the next day! It was nice to get to know coworkers I’d never met before while hanging hundreds of feet in the air. Not sure if I would have made it without assistance from an ML engineer, Marvin, when I got stuck mid-climb multiple times.” - Molly LaMantia, Marketing Manager
A local food tour
"From Norwegian hotdogs to whale jerky and the group’s favorite, the Norwegian waffle from Haralds Vaffel (topped with brown cheese with a distinctive caramel flavor), the food tour was an amazing experience that broadened our taste buds and knowledge about authentic Norwegian foods!" - Mistoura Descloux, Technical Project Manager
“I went on the speedboat tour of the fjord. It was incredible! From jumping the wake of a large ferry bound for Copenhagen to learning about unique aspects of the different islands, it was an experience that I will never forget.” - Jack Reid, Data Analytics Manager
Needless to say, we all had a blast of a day, full of good eats, competition, and heartfelt laughs. After winding down from our outdoor activities, we gathered for dinner at Basso Social for a thirteen course dinner! And I know what you’re thinking, yes, thirteen!
Day 4 was our last day together in Oslo, so we had to go out with a bang! The day started with a Partner Panel where the floor was open to all Vic.ai employees to ask the hard and pressing questions to our executive team. Not only did they handle each question with care and confidence, our CEO Alex stressed that the importance of company retreats is that they allow us all to connect and gather with each other face to face as the people who truly believe in the success and future of Vic.ai.
“Words cannot describe how awesome the people of Vic.ai are. Every single conversation I’ve had was fun and enjoyable. I was able to get to know a lot of new people. I think it was very important in our remote environment to break the ice and spend some time together not on a zoom call. This will definitely improve communication and productivity.” Tomasz Dentko - Python Backend / Data Engineer
The traveling, meals, and the group activities are just perks in the overall mission for us to see that we are all essential in making Vic.ai what it is, and what it will continue to be. Creating relationships in person makes it much easier to ask a colleague for help over Slack!
We concluded our trip with a dinner cruise through the fjords. The water was glistening and the sun was shining down on the magnificent views of Oslo.
"I really enjoyed the boat cruise. It was amazing to be able to have conversations with the executive team and to be honest, it felt like I was talking with peers and not higher-ups, which is huge for me. It makes me feel like I can approach our exec team with ideas, and they are open to listening to them. I loved being able to feel the culture from each and every person, and I can't wait to get to know everyone more." Sameer Kausar, Partner Sales Engineer
“I love boats, so the boat ride on Thursday night was absolutely magical. The views were breathtaking and I felt so free to have access to everyone on the boat, I was able to strike up conversations with new people easily.” - Grant Zukowski, Senior Elixir Engineer
As the cruise was coming to an end, it was time to deliver the VICtory Awards, put together by our fantastic HR department. The award ceremony was a great way to show appreciation and highlight some of the amazing talent that the Vic.ai team possesses! What better way to send us all off!
VICtory Award Winners
Best Dressed - Alvin Delos Santos, UI/UX Engineer
Most Coffee Consumed - Peter Bessell, Level 3 Support Engineer
Most Likely to Brighten Your Day By Saying Something Nice - Hannah Kelley, Customer Success Manager
Person Most Likely to Put Their Hand Up and Answer a Call of Duty - Matthew Johnston, Sr. Platform Architect
Person Who Routinely Turns Everyone’s Craziest Ideas into Workable Plans - Mika Kanno, Senior Project Manager
Person Who Is Always Busy and Invariably Heading Into a Meeting - Rachel Brady, Director, Release Operations
Person Who Burns the Midnight Oil Like There is No Tomorrow - Florian Mutel, Director of Machine Learning Operations
Rookie Who Turns Out to Be a Rock Star Right from the Get-Go - Natasha Body, Senior Manager, Release Operations
Person Who Shows the Most "Team Player"-Ness - Molly LaMantia, Marketing Manager
Person Most Likely to Stay Cool as a Cucumber No Matter What's Happening - Greg Venech, Director, UI/UX
Are you ready to join the adventure with Vic.ai. We are on a mission to reimagine Accounting and Finance with autonomy and intelligence. We are always looking for new colleagues who work with integrity and push the boundaries to take action.