What advice would you give the young version of yourself?
I thought very rationally when I was choosing education. If I had reflected more on who I am as a person, in terms of being able to thrive in daily life, I might have chosen a different path because I am socially inclined and am not good at sitting still for a long time. Fortunately, I chose an engineering degree that opens up many different career paths.
Although I had chosen an education as an environmental engineer, which was, and still is, very meaningful to me, after a few months in the labour market, I could feel that I lacked the human dimension. I hadn’t thought of that before as something that was important to me.
What is your advice for young people who are planning a career path?
When I talk to young people who say they don’t know what they want, I always say that they have to think about what daily life they want.
What gives you energy? When do you thrive? By being able to immerse yourself in things at leisure, by being with many people or by taking a large part of the responsibility and taking the lead?
Also, remember that you cannot set a plan for a full career life. Start somewhere and then take it from there. We change throughout our whole life; we may want or need to change direction, and then it is all very much about what opportunities emerge along the way.
Where do you see pitfalls?
It worries me to see how much young people strive for perfectionism. Yes, we need to be an expert in what we do. But I do not know anyone who is equally good at everything. Therefore, it is important to know yourself, your core values and interests. When there is a match between the core and career, you become good.
Also, prioritise facing other challenges in life rather than just focusing on solving school assignments. It provides robustness to lose control, face resistance and get knockbacks. Your personal skills are really important and also mean a lot in working life.
When I recruit, I look beyond the professional qualifications to those who can see a case from the perspective of others, who provide benefits to others and who can take responsibility. The perfect person, who has tried things in life for good and for worse, can easily become the good manager.
Who has supported you and helped you grow?
I am a child of a single mother who always took leadership. She was a teacher and, as a person, bighearted, caring and supporting of individuals regardless of their background. From an early age, we used each other as sparring partners in the human field, and it has given me a natural approach to interest me in people.
The management at my first workplace saw a potential in me I hadn’t even thought of. I quickly got an opportunity to try out the leadership role, and when I liked being in the role, the director fought to get me management training. Today, it is me who has the pleasure of providing opportunities to those with talent. We all need someone to see us and help us along the way.
Does this apply especially to women?
Now this is caricatured and just my personal assumption, but as I see it, girls are raised in social groups and boys are more individually orientated. We can easily get the feeling of not being good enough because we often do not have an equally distinct competitive edge – but our strength lies in the community. And that can only be a benefit as a manager!
Management is not about being the best, but rather about being able to create the necessary connection between your own organisation and the outside world, and in doing so, to create opportunities for employees.
As women, we must be mindful not to become our own worst enemy. We need to be responsive to those who see our potential. And then we have to get better at saying “never mind”, and laugh at ourselves
How important is the salary?
I believe that women, in particular, often – more or less subconsciously – perceive salary as part of management’s recognition and compare it to the statements about our efforts. We probably don’t negotiate as hard as the men, but we’re not stupid. The mechanisms are just different: we check up on the salary level relative to others and use it to assess Management’s credibility with us. It will disappear if we do not get what we deserve. That is why equal pay is really important.