Choose wisely and communicate clearly
It took three different universities before Louise Harders found herself at RUC, earned her master’s degree and majored in business studies. This turned out to be a wise choice, and she has always clearly communicated her desire for influence.
As the very young daughter of two self-employed people, Louise Harders thought that everyday life as a real estate agent must be magical. Later, contemporary trends led her towards computer science and economics. However, she studied public administration and ended up doing business-focused studies.
“It’s important to choose your qualifications with common sense, and I decided then that the humanities weren’t optimal for my career ambitions. If you only choose what you find exciting, you may be wasting your time. Education is the ticket to your first job, and this applies perhaps still more to student jobs.”
Louise’s own student job was in the IT industry, and she quickly joined Microsoft, where she is today sales manager with 12 employees.
Always be open
“After becoming a manager, my primary assignment became to deliver results through others rather than delivering directly myself. I do this best by helping to develop the employees and their talents. I need to know their desires and dreams so I can help and motivate them. I have to make sure I accommodate them, because they’re of different ages, and a lot goes on in one life. Crises, death, divorce and so on… and these can all affect a professional career.”
Louise Harders herself was divorced three years ago, and today she is alone with her two sons most of the time. The job means she can afford good travel, and everyday life works with support from a range of networks, so raising children alone isn’t an obstacle to a career. Work has always been the stable factor of her life, and she talks openly about her divorce, like so much else.
“It’s a big upheaval to get divorced, but I didn’t want any special consideration and experienced only support, because everyone knew what was going on. At Microsoft, I’ve always experienced trust, which is why I have dared to be very open – even about my ambitions – and it hasn’t been perceived as being political or strategic.”
Say what you want
In her department Louise Harders employs one particularly ambitious young woman, and she thinks it’s a pleasure to support this employee’s talent and career wishes. Especially because Louise says women aren’t always as good as men at saying what they want to achieve.
“We’re our own biggest critics and there are times where I too am insecure about myself. But if you don’t say what you want, you don’t usually get it. I always encourage my employees to be clear in their communication – and I always have been myself.”
Louise feels that a clearly expressed desire for influence gave her the opportunity to become a manager at an early stage. She was quite simply on decision makers’ radar. Another crucial piece of advice from Louise Harders is to have sponsors and mentors who can act as a sparring partner and create visibility.