10 Things I learned from working for Royal Arctic Line

10 Things I learned from working for Royal Arctic Line

The 10 Things that I learned from working for Royal Arctic Line (RAL), a Danish shipping company.

I got fired from RAL, a Danish shipping company based in Greenland. I debated for a long time whether I should talk about this. I toiled over it. I lost sleep over it. My anxiety shot to an all-time high over this. It was such a stressful time, but now I have perspective. Now I’m not so shocked. Now I’d like people to know that life in Greenland is NOT perfect (by any means) and that life isn’t fair, especially for immigrants to this country. I want others to know that I didn’t just accept it but chose to fight it. And I want full transparency because I’m not going to hide for fear that they may take the last few months of my pay. There is so much fear, anxiety, and intimidation surrounding this company. But the reality of it is, that is how the corporate game is played, and it remains the same in corporate Greenland where power and money are concerned.  

I worked for an international Danish shipping company. They say it’s Greenlandic as it’s owned by the Greenlandic government, but I’ve worked there for over a year and I lived in Denmark for four years prior to Greenland. RAL is a Danish company through and through. Even the CEO and little deputy of a CEO is danish. I think she’s also Greenlandic but she speaks mainly danish, so I see her as only danish. They all speak Danish at the company, it’s the standard language spoken there. It is a monopoly organization with no competition, so they do exactly whatever they want without a thought of rules and regulations. They get away with a lot. But as their former compliance manager, these are the things that I experienced when I worked there. It was definitely a rude awakening experience.

The 10 Things I learned from working for a Danish shipping company:

1. Conformation is key.

What I mean by this is that if you work in a corporate Danish/Greenlandic environment, you had better obey and/or adapt to their ways of doing things or face the consequences. This meant I had to obey everything that my supervisors asked or else I would be fired and that was just what happened.  Early on in my job, I knew that I always had to prove myself because I was an outsider.  I am not Danish or Greenlandic and I don’t speak either language.  But originally I was hired because I spoke English because apparently, that was one of their initiatives, to get more English-speaking people in the company to promote a more international company.  Then I applied and was offered the compliance manager position.  This meant I would move to the executive management office because the role was moved to another supervisor.  Mind you, this supervisor has NO experience in compliance, she and the CEO didn’t even know what it was. Anyways, let’s call her AVLL, she inherited the role of compliance officer.  And let me tell you, she is a vile manipulative deputy CEO. She would take every opportunity to let me know what my place was, which was under her.  She literally belittled me every time I missed a deadline,  which I only missed one deadline, and she never let me forget it.  Then she gave my role to my last supervisor, let’s call her LINT.  She was this Danish/Asian person on a power trip. She loved the idea of having a subordinate and gave new meaning to what micro-management meant. She sucked at communication. Even for an educated person, she was terrible to communicate with.  When I asked questions, I was always left more confused because she had an unorganized system of getting things done.  Anyways, apparently, I did not conform as they wished because I got fired a month after she became my supervisor. 

2. Money, position, and greed rule

The 2nd thing I learned from working for an international Danish shipping company is that money, position, and greed rule.  This is funny because it’s the same or comparable to any corporate environment, whether it’s in Alaska, the US, or Denmark.  Money and power rule and this place were no different. All of the executives made a lot of money and the more they got paid, the higher they got, and the more greedy they were. For example, when LINT was promoted to head of sustainability, she became this whole other person. Mind you, we were colleagues before this and we had a lot of related goals. But after she got her new position she needed to do things like go over the HR handbook with me even though I had reviewed it previously with another supervisor. She needed to micromanage my tasks to the point of bullying me when I didn’t do as she specifically asked. She was a nightmare to work with and from what I hear, she’s still bullying the service staff. That kind of person should never be a supervisor or at least she should get some much-needed communication training because she is terrible at it. Prior to her, AVLL was my supervisor and she really let me know my place. She would constantly remind me that she is the officer that reports to the board while I report to her.  I repeatedly asked to get EU compliance training because it would be helpful to do my job better and that is what Greenland follows, Danish rules and regulations that are from the EU.  But she denied me the training. I think she saw me as a threat because I asked questions and I wanted to do my job well. But how else was I to learn anything without training? Anyway, I found it a bit ironic that she started at the organization as the assistant to the CEO and now she’s the 2nd most powerful person there. It’s just ridiculous that these people are in executive management roles.

3. Managers get a lot of training but still hire consultants

This is really ironic. So managers and directors really spend a ridiculous amount of money on training, from marketing training to corporate social responsibility training, they go to Denmark and even Dubai to get training, and yet, they need to hire a consultant to get the job done. One of the craziest things was when they hired a brand specialist to get the ‘feel for the image’ to help with some new messaging in the company. I could have done that and saved them money, but they don’t care about that. Which begs the question, why not hire the consultant then?  What are they doing to need an external consultant all the flipping time? Perhaps they are just incompetent people in high positions. This is the norm at this company. 

4. If you are not Danish or speak the language, you are an outsider.

So you can imagine what it was like for me to try to fit in. I am neither Danish nor do I speak the Danish language. This, in retrospect, made it hard for the other employees to speak to me and get to know me, but I was always warm and open to communicating with people. I even did a month-long segmented video training when I was introducing the whistleblower program. I got great feedback on it. People even said they learned a lot and it was a great reminder to see and hear an Indigenous/native person speaking English. But no matter how I tried, I was always an outsider in a very Danish work culture.  This was another contributing factor as to why I got fired. I think LINT was very insecure about speaking English because she wasn’t good at it. I went out of my way to encourage her, but in the end, she still fired me. 

5. Getting fired is no big deal.

This was surprising. But apparently getting ‘fired’ from an organization here in Greenland is common. When I got fired and when I told people because LINT had already announced it to the organization, I felt I could tell people.  Besides the shock of it, I was also stunned when people would say that it was no big deal that I was fired.  They would say, “so just get another job.’  Or, ‘it happens all the time here, just move on.’ And, ‘it’s probably for the best, I hear it’s not the best place to work, so just let it go.’  I was floored. I was so shocked because I felt it was an unfair termination that I hired an attorney. Even they said I couldn’t do much. But, I’m glad I did.  I’m glad I fought back because that company was wrong for firing me. I want the Greenlandic people to know that I didn’t take it lightly and just move on, I fought a broken system because I wanted accountability. 

6. The whistleblower system is just for looks 

I set up the external whistleblower system as it was part of my job as Compliance Manager.  I trained the internal staff on it.  I did all the things for it.  But I learned that because of the toxic internal culture, I knew that people wouldn’t not only NOT use the Whistleblower system to report any illegal activities, but they won’t do it out of fear.  No one wants to lose their jobs or face the leadership team, or as they call it, the Direktion.  This is because once they know you outed them, you will face intimidation and bullying from the leadership.  They will make you feel bad for even telling the truth so much so that you may quit or they will force you to quit.  I’ve heard of a lot of people that have just left rather than face them.  It’s such a backward environment.  And so I even submitted my wrongful termination to the very whistleblower system I set up.  But I doubt that anything will come of it.  There won’t be any accountability for these people because I don’t matter and the whistleblower system is just there because they need to state that they have a whistleblower system. 

7. They treat Greenlandic service people poorly

I can only speak from experience as this is what I saw and heard.  I heard LINT was verbally and negatively speaking to the cafeteria staff.  Apparently, she does this regularly because they do things differently than she does.  She isn’t even their supervisor and she is bullying the staff.  On other occasions, both LINT and AVLL would verbally attack the maintenance staff for even asking to make some much-needed changes.  They repeatedly talk down to the service staff and that has caused so much trauma for them.  When I’ve talked to them they’ve said they will ‘just quit’ because they can’t take it anymore.  I told them to go to Personnel (HR), and they would just laugh.  They say that nothing will be done because HR is under AVLL and they only listen to her.  If anything, things would get worse.  And so they just endure it or leave.  

8. Directors get a lot of money for being highly unqualified.

Yes, you heard that right.  It gets crazier and crazier. So Directors earn a very high salary for their positions all the while they are just unqualified. Maybe that’s why they need to hire consultants to do their jobs eh?  (remember #3)  For example, LINT got hired originally as a special projects person to the CEO. Prior to her role, she was a server at a hotel. Now she has her own department. I guess it pays to kiss arss. I can only speculate as to why I got fired, I didn’t fit in nor did I kiss their butt enough.   And, ironically, AVLL started as the CEO’s assistant, just look at her now, deputy CEO. She’s like the wizard in Lord of the rings, just ruling over Mordor. Anyways, I was experienced and educated and I still got fired.  

9. Manipulation and intimidation rule.

If you know anything about this organization, know that there is a high level of coercion that goes on.  It’s on all levels but it is key for the executive staff. When I was called in for a meeting with my last supervisor, LINT, and the HR officer, they went into how I was a terrible employee and I didn’t do my job and they had all these false accusations.  Then they tried to force me to ‘mutually resign.’  I didn’t sign anything nor did I agree to the forced resignation.  I said so much in an email that I do not accept it and that I wanted to work it out because there was no warning or chance to rectify the situation. Five days later they served me with ‘Termination documents.’  It was shocking how fast it all went. Not only that, they manipulated the situation just to get rid of me.  They wanted me out and so they fabricated this false narrative of me.  It was ridiculous.  These Danish women (LINT and AVLL), are the most manipulative people I’ve ever met.  They will do anything to keep their positions and high salary for doing at little as possible. But they will also kiss the most ass to get ahead. I really didn’t see them coming. AVLL doesn’t care about money in terms of how much of her budget she spends, it’s like her own expendable income besides her astronomical salary. But what she does and what she is a master at, she is a manipulation queen. She literally got to where she’s at by kissing arss and being so crafty at manipulating people. Anyways- she is the CEO’s work wife. She makes everything better for him.  When he pivots she moves with him.  When he’s stressed, she makes it better for him.  AVLL was right there providing solutions as if to always make it all ‘ok’ for the CEO. She is his biggest supporter and will do anything to keep him happy. I swear,  the higher you go the more toxic the work culture is.

10. Greenlandic people are kind.

Seriously, if it wasn’t for the Greenlandic people and their kindness, I wouldn’t have survived as long as I did in that place.  The Greenlanders always made a point to ask how I was, shared food, and asked me questions. They really wanted to know about me and where I was from, (Alaska). In retrospect, we shared a lot of common ground in terms of being Indigenous and in humor. Greenlanders love to laugh and that was one of the ways I could relate. That was the only thing I really liked about working there, all the Greenlandic people that spoke their Greenlandic language.  


These were the 10 things I learned from working for Royal Arctic Line, an international Danish shipping company. Even though I got fired in such a short period I learned a lot. Mainly I learned that I didn’t fit in their toxic work culture and that I did the job to the best of my ability.  Furthermore, I didn’t take their termination lightly, I didn’t lay down and accept it. I fought them. I hope this inspires others to know that there are actions you can take to fight a bad organization.  

Now we still don’t know what the future holds for me and my family.  You see, my work permit, the reason I can stay in Greenland is connected to my immigration status.  If I don’t get another job soon, my family and I may have to return to Denmark or possibly back to my motherland, Alaska. This may happen but right now we are just trying to weigh all our options.  We would really like to stay.  We moved our family here. Our kids are integrated and speak Greenlandic.  We moved our whole life here to contribute to Greenlandic society. And so, living and working in corporate Greenland shouldn’t be about power and money, but unless we start talking about it and holding people accountable, it will remain the same.  Same toxic people, same toxic culture, same old game.  Let’s change for the better, do better, and be a better example for our children. 

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