From captain to Coloplast
It was her initial training as an officer linguist that particularly shaped Lone Bundgaard Nielsen. She left the Danish Defence as captain of the reserve, studied economics and after a number of years ended up at Coloplast, where she is today Vice President of the IT Development Department.
A linguistic high school diploma and the Cold War determined Lone Bundgaard Nielsen’s first and most important career step. She graduated as an officer linguist in Polish from the Royal Danish Defence Language Academy.
“It was an insanely demanding course, where we had to learn a new language in ten months and at the same time study for a military qualification, where we also learned traditional military skills in field exercises and on the shooting range. I explored facets of myself I hadn’t previously known and found out what I’m truly capable of.”
Lone was 18 years old at the time, and she gained insights into herself that she has used in her life ever since. She also learned to communicate with everyone and at all levels when talking both to those higher and lower than herself in the army hierarchy.
Having children while studying
Since then, Lone has studied for her MSc in Business Administration and Auditing, and as her interest in finance and accounting grew, she increasingly began to see language as a tool. She also had her children while studying.
“I think that you make things unnecessarily hard if you have your first child when you’re also new to working life. I’ve had children from day one on the labour market. This created a framework and made me very focused and disciplined, so I have never been the kind of person who sits in the office until late into the evening.”
At the start of her career, Lone was an accountant at Danske Bank and Deloitte respectively, and after a few years with LEGO she moved to the pharmaceutical company Coloplast, where she has now been for 14 years. Over time, she has moved more towards being a financial processor and focusing on the IT area, where she is now Vice President.
The choice of job is the most important thing
Today, Lone is responsible for the business area of the IT department and has about 60 employees under her. She didn’t choose the management path, but it came about naturally when she expressed her opinions and delivered results. Her methods are structured and well-established, learned during her studies.
“Many people here in the company have positions involving something other than what’s on their diploma, so I don’t think the choice of qualification is the most important thing. It’s difficult to see five years into the future, so I always recommend that people choose their qualifications according to their interests and abilities.”
In Lone’s view, the choice of job is crucial to the career path. If the individual desires influence, it is advisable to aim for the places in the company where results are more measurable than others and thus also more visible. Being a woman isn’t an obstacle.
Follow your gut instincts
“I have never thought about my gender but instead about my skills, and I am ambivalent when something is implemented only for women. I think it’s really important not to make gender into something special. As a young person, I always had to either pick up or take the children to school – just like my male colleagues do today – and this has never been an obstacle to my career.”
On the whole, Lone Bundgaard Nielsen recommends that you always trust yourself and dare to follow your gut instinct. This is also true of speaking out if there’s something you can’t stand by, because this brings respect in the long run. It doesn’t pay to think too much about what others say and think. This is a trap that Lone feels women fall into a little too often.