Integrity, credibility and political play
22 years at Coloplast in a total of 14 different positions, and currently Vice President for Quality and Regulatory Affairs globally and with responsibility for 150 employees. Meet Camilla Hjort Pagh.
“The further forward your career takes you, the more important it is to learn the political game inside the organisation. It’s a discipline you have to be able to handle if you want to go onward and upward.”
Years ago, lobbying was, to put it mildly, not a favourite discipline for Camilla Hjort Pagh, who got her first managerial job at the age of 25. However, a mid-career coaching course taught her the value of lobbying.
“I found a balance between my own values and the political game. Professionalism is self-evident once you have got this far. It’s more about relationships. My very best advice is to have a pipeline of mentors to help you along the way. All my mentors have given me strength and faith in my future path or helped me with concrete job opportunities.”
Believe in others
As a generalist, Camilla has been around many different corners of the business and has always been open to new challenges. She has been responsible for production and processes and has worked locally as well as globally. She has streamlined, led change and even helped close a factory with 300 employees. EVERY time, she has learned new things about leadership.
“I am very sincere and I believe the best of people and trust that they have a positive intention – with an assignment, conversation or whatever the issue. This has always been my approach, and my instincts have been right so far. I have always got a long way with honesty and a healthy sense of what is best for the company and what the consequences could potentially be for the employee.”
Through her own upbringing, Camilla has learned from her parents’ hard work and perseverance as sole traders. Camilla is a curious person with natural access to new roles and assignments in the organisation. She has chosen to seize the opportunities that have arisen along the way. As the years have gone by, however, she has become significantly better at expressing her own concrete wishes for the future of her career.
“I’m ambitious, and always have been. Not in relation to specific positions, but I’ve always known that I wanted more – more responsibility, more insight and more influence. And I’ve learned that in order to move forward, you have to push yourself. It’s not always in the interest of others for you to move forward, but sometimes you have to build your own happiness.”
The road to the top
Camilla’s father is an engineer, as is her husband – and her son says he wants to be one too. And Camilla is glad she chose that path. She has been able to benefit from the technical insight and the analytical and structured approach she learned at university throughout her career. Management was a slightly different matter.
“I’d never thought about being a manager, but it has always been natural for me to take responsibility. I decided early in my career that I wanted to make a difference for both the company and my employees, so I’ve always been humbled by the task of management. I enjoy helping employees develop, ensuring a good framework for their successes and creating results as part of a community. Today, I find it difficult to imagine myself in a job without a management aspect.”
Both Camilla and her husband have often had long working days and a lot of travel, so when the children were small, they prioritised getting help at home. She strongly recommends this, because it meant the couple had both time and space to be together when they were free.