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

I am Danish/Swedish by birth, born in Copenhagen to a Danish mum and Swedish father, married a brit and now a dual Danish/British citizen. Educated to degree level at the University of Copenhagen (BA Hons, first class, English Language, Literature and Social Sciences), then moved to London, completed a B.Sc Hons 2:1 in Economics from UCL, London, followed by an MA in Economics, jointly from the University of Copenhagen and UCL.

I started my career as an economist working for the European Commission in Brussels – on the implications of economic and monetary union, as a matter of fact.  Fascinating

I’m ultimately not a public sector person, however, so when offered a job as a strategy consultant at what was Coopers & Lybrand, I moved back to London and commenced my career in the private sector, pretty much from the beginning in the tech space, and from Coopers & Lybrand to a senior role in a mobile telco strategy boutique, then back to what had by then become PwC Consulting, focusing on telecom/media convergence. PwC then got acquired by IBM, where I ended up spending 10 years, first as leader of IBM’s global communications sector think tank; then as leader of the European big deals business in the telco space, then establishing IBM UK’s digital consulting practice, earning me a place at IBM’s top talent programme and a place at University of Oxford ‘Said’ Business School, paid for by IBM.

From IBM, I was headhunted to become EMEA MD of an American marketing analytics business – a SME and stepping stone to becoming an entrepreneur.

On the verge of massive digital/tech disruption, and hearing clients express a need to understand what digital/tech was doing to their businesses, and how they could capitalise on the new opportunities created by digital/tech, I founded – innovation and growth partner to pioneering clients.

In parallel, I co-founded a digital learning progamme for young people in London, earning me my Honorary Fellowship at Ravensbourne (digital media/innovation university), and place on the Connecting Tech City Advisory Board, alongside Russ Shaw, which became the start of the discussions about taking Tech London Advocates to the Nordics, which ended with me me founding Tech Nordic Advocates in 2015.  Right now, in addition to running newmedia2.0 and Tech Nordic Advocates, I lecture on Innovation and Entrepreneurship at the University of Warwick, am business mentor to startups at Aston Business School’s and other accelerator programmes, and tech/smart city advisor to the Danish Ambassador to the UK and the Danish Foreign office.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

I did in a sense but then changed direction. I am out of a family of linguists. So started life pursuing that at university. I then discovered my business and entrepreneurial gene and switched to economics and business. Following my time at the European Commission, I guess my ‘plan’ was to join a corporate, as that would give me a sound grounding in business, platform for my career, and also ‘look good on my CV’. Now I think there are many more ways to build a career than to join a corporate first. Indeed, I experience how some corporates struggle to attract top young talent (millennials), who sometimes aspire to slightly different things than what is offered by the typical corporate environment.

Have you faced any challenges along the way and if so, how did you deal with them?

I don’t think many people go through a long career without challenges. I guess for me, my first challenge was building a career in a very competitive industry (tech) in a ‘foreign’ country and then in London, which is huge and where I didn’t really know the movers and shakers.  So I had to use my unstoppable drive and determination to build contacts and networks and always ensure I was as good as or even better than my competitors, as I was ‘foreign’, understand exactly what was required to land the ‘right’ jobs and perform to the very best of my ability in each role, to help me land the next role and ‘get noticed’. Another key challenge has been transitioning from the corporate to the SME/ startup and entrepreneurial world. Very different cultures and modus operandi. I dealt with that by talking and listening to people, including entrepreneurs and startup/SME leaders, to understand them and ‘life’ in their startup/SME world, reading books by entrepreneurs about how they built their businesses etc.

Finally, there is no getting round the fact that building and maintaining a successful career as a woman in tech isn’t easy (see below), and even harder if you want to combine that with motherhood –  you can ‘have it all’ for sure, as I have, but you can’t have it all all of the time.

And you need to be able to deal with the nagging feeling/bad conscience that most ambitious, professional women have that you are not ‘doing justice’ to either your kids or career all of the time.

It’s all about compromises, and working out what works for you and your family and striking out the right balance – and of course having a partner to share the responsibilities with. No one size fits all. There are many models. You have to work out what’s right for you and your family. Luckily, the world of work is much more flexible these days, if some way from perfect, and as more women ‘come up the ranks’/become entrepreneurs, hopefully it will continue to improve

On a typical workday, how do you start your day and how does it end?

I am lucky that most days in my working life are different, due to my various hats. Most days, like for most people, start with going through emails, before heading into meetings and calls with clients, targets and my teams.  I travel a lot in the UK and across the Nordics and Baltics, and attend a lot of business and social functions, which adds a lot of spice and business to my life too. I work long days. If home, and if I have no functions/socials, my days end with following up on the days’ calls/meetings or preparing the next days’. If socials/ functions or travelling, I spend time with clients and networking.

Tell us about Tech Nordic Advocates and its aim.

As I say, Russ (Shaw) was keen to expand Tech London Advocates (TLA) beyond the UK, and so we got talking about taking TLA to the Nordics first. So I set up TECH NORDIC ADVOCATES in November 2015, headquartered in Copenhagen. In a little over two years, we have built Northern Europe’s largest – and only pan-Nordic/Baltic – tech leader network of 700 startup/scaleup founders, entrepreneurs, ​investors, mentors, accelerators, corporates and policy makers, working together across the five Nordic and three Baltic countries​, with a home in the leading tech hubs in all Nordic and capitals, to stimulate Nordic and Baltic tech sector growth. Our mission is to grow the Nordics/Baltics into a leading global tech/startup hub. Our vision is to be the leading platform and driving force for Nordic/Baltic tech sector collaboration and growth and bridge to other global tech hubs through our Global Tech Advocates family.

Tech Nordic Advocates are growing rapidly. We are keen to talk to tech leaders from startups to corporates with an interest in the Nordic and Baltic tech scene. So please get in touch by emailing: [email protected]

How do you feel about mentoring? Have you ever had a mentor or do you mentor anyone?

Mentoring is extremely important. Giving and receiving from bosses, peers and people who report to you – 360 degrees. My experience tells me that us women in particular look for role models we can emulate. A woman – or man-  we can identify with and use as ‘mirror’ to inspire and motivate us, and give us confidence that ‘it can be done’. Throughout my career, I have been fortunate to have several mentors both within the businesses I have worked within, to ensure an understanding of the corporate environment I worked in was built into the mentoring process but also – very importantly – mentors outside my work environment, to ensure independence/neutrality from my corporate environment/politics.

I was on the female top talent team at IBM, and as such lucky enough to be mentored by mentors both inside and outside the business, male and female, which is really important for both mentor and mentee.

I have also mentored many people myself over the years – younger female professionals at IBM, male and female mentees since, and have always been very active in women in tech  communities, to give younger women in tech that role model. I am also a professional business mentor at several business school and accelerator programmes etc.

If you could change one thing for women in the workplace, what would it be?

Ensure there is better alignment between policies and on the ground behaviours in business: most organisations today have (‘the right’) equal opportunity/diversity/inclusion policies in place. On the ground behaviours, however, are sometimes very different. With even the best policies in the world, it can be very hard to change ingrained on the ground (male) behaviours. Putting it bluntly… men choosing men for their teams, salary increases or promotions.

Not because they are necessarily or inherently sexist..but because we humans tend to go with what we know best… being crude…guys know how guys operate .. so why give yourself the challenge of picking a woman, even if on paper, she is as good if not better than the next male. What is needed to address that is inclusion of men in diversity initiatives, as opposed to taking women away from the office on ‘away days’ to teach them how to deal with men, without any men in the room ‘to practice on’ and team with, so the men can learn what challenges women face, when dealing with men, and women can learn more about male work behaviour and male experiences of working with women.. in other words mutual education. Only that way can we translate policies into action

What has been your biggest achievement to date?

In my personal life, raising two children who are now healthy, happy teenagers doing extremely well, while pursuing a super business professional career. In my professional life, a few things make me feel a little proud:  I guess as I say building a successful career in ‘another country’; being picked for the IBM female top talent programme, which also helped me earn my place at Oxford University business school, sponsored by IBM; making the transition from corporate to SME/startup; founding and growing two businesses; and being invited to Buckingham Palace in recognition of my work for the London startup sector

What is your next challenge and what are you hoping to achieve in the future?

I have set up two businesses now – a commercial business and Northern Europe’s largest tech leader network – My focus now is to grow both of those, and help newmedia2.0 clients and other businesses I work with as mentor grow.

In terms of the future, I hope to show the younger generation – in particular women – through my continued actions and achievements that if you have talent and relentless drive and determination and focus, it doesn’t matter who you are or where you come from, if you have what it takes, don’t let anyone stop you. Go do it!

Do you have any advice for women working in technology, that you wish someone had told you?

I won’t be the first to say this but women still make up only a small proportion of the tech sector, in particular at senior level.  Thriving in the fast moving tech world, where only the best survive and succeed is tough.

So in addition to having talent, confidence and unstoppable drive and determination are crucial, whether you are a man or a woman.

At more junior level, it’s harder to have that confidence as you haven’t yet achieved so much. So if I had my time again, I guess, I wish someone had told me to actively seek mentors and advice from key people from the very beginning. Having someone you trust – male or female –  ask advice of and listen to on your journey, who has been there is super valuable, and helps you build confidence. Be bold, ask people for a 15 min coffee. Most people will say yes. And the tech space is actually very good at and increasingly open to that. And finally, don’t think too much about being a woman – be a person and just do it!