Marika Fredriksson - Lead The Future
“I believe it is important to teach children the courage NOT just to go with the flow but to follow their own path.”
Marika Fredriksson
CFO
Vestas

Facts

  • Marika Fredriksson
  • 1967
  • Swedish School of Economics in Helsinki
  • CFO
  • Vestas
  • Living together
  • No kids
  • Raised in nature and still appreciates it

What have you done right from the start?

I knew early on what I wanted and what was important to me. I had the courage to follow my own path because I believed in myself. Of course, I have made mistakes, but they have always been because of my own choices and are therefore my own responsibility.

Where did you get your inspiration from?

My parents always said that I could be whatever I wanted to be, and that I was the best. It means a lot when you’re a child. I also listened to the missed opportunities some of the women in my family talked about. It made me decide that I wanted to seize every opportunity I got so I would make a lot of money and always be able to manage life myself. I had already decided that when I was 10 years old.

What would you advise others to do?

It is important to believe in oneself but also to be realistic. You cannot both be a perfect mother, wife and career woman. Get some help and learn how to take it easy with all the things around you. It is also important to advance your career early. It takes time to build a one so getting started when you’re 40 is to late.

Who has helped you advance in your career?

I have been fortunate and have had good leaders to help me forward. I have also been surrounded by talented people, which is important. The more talented people you work with, the more skilled you become. I’ve also tried working with bad bosses, but I have strong sense of justice and always said my opinion. Not everyone likes that.

What has been most crucial to where you are in your career today?

Early in my career, I was employed by Volvo. There, I experienced something I found unfair and wrong. I went to the top leaders and said what I thought was wrong and what should be different. It was a great risk to take, but fortunately, the changes I had proposed were listened to and made. It is important to dare to say one’s opinion. But of course, you also have to choose your battles.

What should an ambitious young woman pay special attention to?

You need to plan your career. You can always adjust your plan, but you need to have one. It is also important that you can always show the value you create, because otherwise it is difficult to place you. Many are skilled, so you have to show exactly where and how you stand out. Networking is also important, and men are much better at that than women. Make an effort to know the right people.

What does it take to become – and be – a good leader?

If you want to be a leader, you have to show your results. When you are a leader, your job is to develop others and not hold onto them, but help them to reach higher, when they’re ready.

Have you experienced gender challenges in your career?

When I was younger, I didn’t think much about being a woman. Today I notice when someone is asking me something, they would never have asked a man about. I comment on it, but it doesn’t bother me. There is a lot of assumptions about men and women, but each of us need to figure out how to rest in our gender and role. There’s no recipe for that.

What are you most proud of in your professional life?

I am most proud that I have achieved what I set out to do when I was a child. It is important to recognize the value of influencing children. I believe it is important to teach children the courage NOT just to go with the flow but to follow their own path. It takes strength –also from the parents.

What has been most important for you to achieve?

The most important thing for me is to have a job where I can set the direction. On the more personal level, it has been the freedom to choose. Therefore, a good salary is important. If you have children, you can ensure help at home. If you are tired of your job, you have the freedom to quit. Economy and freedom are closely connected.