Meet Anna Nordén, Principal, Regulatory Affairs at Sovos

Anna Norden

As Principal, Regulatory Affairs at Sovos, Anna Nordén pursues government relations and other public affairs work to anticipate new regulatory trends and laws. In tight collaboration with colleagues in both Strategy and Regulatory Analysis and Design, her long practice and expertise are instrumental in guiding both Sovos and legislators as new tax control reforms are rolled out across the globe.

With a background in law, Anna has solid experience from international work with e-commerce and information security regulations in organizations such as the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL), the United Nations Centre for Trade Facilitation and Electronic Business (UN/CEFACT) and the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC); she also lectures in information security law at Stockholm University.

Coupled with many years in the VAT and e-invoicing compliance industry, both as co-founder of TrustWeaver, a company that was acquired by Sovos in 2018, and as the Swedish representative in the EU Multistakeholder E-Invoicing Forum, Anna’s position in the interface between tax and information security is quite unique.

Outside the office, Anna enjoys outdoor sports in general and climbing and skiing with her family in particular, but also sailing when opportunity is given.

Tell us a bit about yourself, background and your current role

I got my Swedish LL.M. after having studied law at the universities of Lund and Gothenburg. I started working for one of the large Swedish law firms right after my studies and quickly got sucked into the long working hours and intense business lawyer lifestyle. I realized that if I didn’t try something else soon, I’d risk being stuck in the firm for the rest of my career. I applied for a position at the District Court, which is the first step in the judge training program. I was admitted to the Court but last minute decided to decline the offer and instead spend some months traveling. I was living on a shoestring backpacking my way literally around the world, trying to figure out what I wanted to do for a career.

Coming back to Sweden, I started working at the Gothenburg District Court. I was however soon offered a chance to move to Vienna for a UN project at the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law and was granted an eight months’ leave of absence from the Court. It was at UNCITRAL I started my “tech” career, looking at the interplay between law and technology and how this could be used to harmonize legal digitalization efforts globally. I took part in drafting the UN Model Law on Electronic Signatures and had to understand the technology behind digitalization and how technology both could impact and be a tool for law. I had found my place – working in the intersection of law and technology, in an international environment. After Vienna I returned to the Court for some time but moved to Paris when I was offered a permanent position with the International Chamber of Commerce in my area of interest, thereby ditching the judge career once and for all. Electronic signatures and their legal aspects and implications had become my passion and area of expertise.

After just a year at the ICC I was approached by a head-hunter who convinced me to join an IT start-up in my focus area. The start-up experience taught me a lot and I met some great people; a bunch of us eventually left this project and started a company of our own, being true pioneers in combining law and technology.  This company, TrustWeaver, was later acquired by Sovos.

At Sovos I today focus on regulatory affairs, which means I work towards governments and regulators to try to make new laws in tax digitalization as effective as possible for governments while still being enabling for the users. I also teach information security law at Stockholm university – I have done this for two decades now but never get tired of interacting with the students, trying to embolden them to think outside the box when starting their careers.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

No, I did not. But that doesn’t mean that I left it to chance altogether. I was very open-minded and took opportunities when they arose; I’ve been in private sector, public sector, NGOs etc. And I regularly stopped to look at my compass to see that I was headed in a direction that felt good – be it without knowing which my end station would be. I knew from day one that I wanted an intellectually stimulating job in an international environment with interesting people, while maintaining a good work-life balance.

Have you faced any career challenges along the way and how did you overcome these?

Despite the fact that I have always been managing my time and had very understanding managers and colleagues, having small children while working a lot is challenging. I have managed by working flexible hours and partly from home, but at times my work-life balance has not been ideal.

What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

Being part of founding and developing TrustWeaver.

What one thing do you believe has been a major factor in you achieving success?

I cannot mention just one thing. It’s a combination of commitment, hard work and the luck of being in the right area and lastly but maybe most importantly working with great people.

What top tips would you give to an individual who is trying to excel in their career in technology?

Check your compass from time to time – are you happy in your position; is this where you want to be right now? If not, make a change.

Be open with your employer as to your needs and private situation; demand work-life balance.

Do you believe there are still barriers for success for women working in tech, if so, how can these barriers be overcome?

To start with, if we want more women in tech we must strive towards girls becoming interested in and getting the opportunity to learn technology from a young age. (In some cultures, this will mean a change of mindset to allow and expect also girls to be interested in technology.) Secondly, it must be recognized and remembered that women are in general more risk averse and less competitive than men. These traits, in combination with women typically taking a large responsibility for household and children, are reasons why few women make a career in competitive and male-dominated areas. To change this, you need to provide a different career structure than you use to attract and advance men.

What do you think companies can do to support to progress the careers of women working in technology?

Companies must be aware of the above, provide different career structures, and ensure work – life balance.

There are currently only 21 per cent of women working in tech, if you could wave a magic wand, what is the one thing you would do to accelerate the pace of change for women in the industry?

Get more women in tech education; get more women interested in technology generally to start with.

What resources do you recommend for women working in tech?

I don’t think women in tech need any different resources than men, and I personally don’t believe all that much in female networking but rather in networking generally. Examples of resources I have been recommended are:

  • edx.org
  • Pluralsight
  • Udemy