What has been the most important turning point in your career?
The most crucial thing in my career has been to become aware of how important values are to me. I’ve tried to defend managerial decisions I couldn’t abide, and you can get sick of that.
Now I am in a company with very strong values and a mission to create value for society. It creates credibility and means everything to me. It also makes it easier to be a good manager.
What is a good manager to you?
I have a boss who gives me the necessary back-up and dares to challenge me. It means a lot to me that we have the mutual confidence to be able to discuss and test new ideas for business development so that I can verify my deliberations before they are implemented.
As a manager, it is important to be strong in your values, passionate about your work and to set clear goals so that employees want to follow you. As a manager, you should be able to make a quick impact assessment and decision – often based on intuition, where your own values are important.
What has set you thinking on your career path?
It has surprised me when others see me as a challenge to their own careers. Uncertainty arises especially when there is no clear announcement and explanation about appointments and organisational changes from higher management teams. I myself am very aware of communicating clearly about decisions that can cause emotional reactions among employees.
Does gender make a difference?
Along the way, there have been those that thought that a man would be needed to fill a given position to which I was appointed. However, my experience is that, as a woman, you can contribute new angles in a traditionally male-dominated company, and this gives some new considerations and, ultimately, more robust decisions and solutions.
As long as you do your job properly, you will probably gain respect – regardless of gender. I encourage both men and women to take part in maternity/paternity leave, and I never make a decision based on gender when it comes to hiring.
What is most important to you?
In my daily life, I am most pleased to see others develop – especially those that I personally have been involved in hiring and developing. It makes me proud to follow their development and see how they grow during tasks as they get more responsibility.
On a more general level, every morning when I get up – together with 15,000 competent colleagues – I help to make the world a better place. It is most important to me that I feel that I, together with others, create value – for the business, in projects, for people and for the environment.
What is at the core of your foundation?
Decency and credibility from my family are the basis of my foundation. My parents are extremely bountiful and hospitable, and I was number three in the pack, so I grew up trusting in a strong safety net around me. It has given me fundamental confidence and belief in change.
What advice would you give to others?
As a young woman, you have to be aware that you will face resistance and you have to choose your struggles. There are obviously wide gaps between female role models in science, and some might think you can’t do the job. Use this as motivation to show that you can! Shrug your shoulders at condescending comments and choose confrontation only when it’s really important.
It is important to take risks, and we women in general are not as good at it as our male counterparts – perhaps because we are afraid of failing and making decisions that can affect our fellow human beings.
If you, as a manager, want to develop – both yourself and the organisation – it means you have to step outside the comfort zone. So find the courage in yourself and believe that you were chosen because you are the best at the job.