“You build your experience as you go along and constantly shape your own future”
Sofia Kjelgaard
Head of Forecasting & Performance
Coloplast

Facts

What do you find most interesting about your career and your leadership position?

One thing I’ve really loved throughout my career, has been the chance to work together with so many different people across the company; in sales subsidiaries, factories, distribution centres and head quarter functions, trying to understand their viewpoints, culture and what it takes to achieve an excellent collaboration across functions. For those who like to be in a fast-moving, international environment where they can combine their technical interest with an interest in people and relations then Supply Chain can be a great place to work!

What has been crucial to get you to where you are today?

I’ve always been keen to take on new challenges and approach them with a mindset that every challenge has solutions, which can be found if you start by really trying to understand the root of the challenge and from there work on finding real, sustainable solutions. I have a very strong improvement mindset and I think it has been an important contributing factor to my career journey so far. When it comes to getting leadership positions, I think it has been crucial that I’ve expressed this wish to my superiors, but also that I have shown through actions, at and outside of work, that it’s something I really enjoy and thrive in.

Tell us about a female role model and the impact they had on you – either personally or professionally?

I’ve had multiple male and female role models throughout my studies and career but a few of them had a huge impact on that I am where I am today. During my first year of engineering studies, I joined the board of a network for female engineering students. The older students in the board became my role models, at a time when I needed them. My first year of engineering studies was tough – having transitioned from a completely different study field (social science). Seeing these women, who I could really relate to, succeed with their studies – through hard work and determination – was a great motivation and inspiration for me to keep going and ensure I succeeded in my studies too. Being part of the network also created a strong sense of belonging which I personally think is key – as much as we need more women to apply for studies within STEM, it is equally important that they are inspired to stay on, finish their studies and pursue a STEM career.

What advice would you give to young female students today?

Your studies are very important, but they should not become all you do. University life offers endless opportunities: take the chance to meet people, learn from them, challenge your viewpoints, take on board membership in non-profit organizations, get a student job. Start your own projects outside or in connection to your studies to create the opportunities you wish were available. Don’t get stressed out if you don’t know what you “want to be when you grow up” – life is a learning journey where we unlock the puzzle pieces as we go along and it’s important that we enjoy what we do along the way. Choosing a path now does not necessarily mean that’s what you need to pursue for the rest of your life – you build your experience as you go along and constantly shape your own future.

Looking into the future, what role do you think STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) education will have?

During my engineering studies I learnt how to be at ease with uncertainty and to take on challenges I’ve never met before. Studies within STEM clearly includes technical skills and a lot of theory, but most of all it teaches you how to think to solve problems and challenges that arise, whatever those problems might be. I truly think that is a critical skill for the future.