After finishing university, I worked for a Swedish bank for 10 years. I had a number of positions: I was a trader in the money and bond market, an analyst at the Treasury while we were building the risk management function and later I started up and managed the financial analysts’ team. Later on, I wanted to use these skills outside the bank so I joined Coopers & Lybrand Consulting in 1997. Leaving the bank was a big move for me after so long; the culture is very similar to PwC but I had to re-build my network. It’s very open here at PwC—you can deliver a good idea if you have one.
In 2006, I was given the opportunity to take part in the Ulysses programme, PwC’s leadership development programme for partners which involves going to a developing country and working with a local non-governmental organisation. I went to China. This experience helped me to understand what it is like to be a role model. I now coach a female director who is on her way to becoming a leader in our practice.
I believe that, in order to improve the representation of women leaders, we need to be clear on what values, apart from technical and management skills, they bring to the business. If that is not clear up front, the risk is that "traditional" (that is, "male") values and skills will be the standard and we face the risk of not even looking for female leaders. One of my clients won’t even initiate a people-based process without having gender equality on the shortlist. I think PwC should do this too.
My advice to other women is to find a variety of “professional helpers” to support your development as a leader and your career. For me these categories of helpers have been: mentor, coach, sponsor, champion (where can you be in 10 years?), feedback giver and confidante. You may not have appointed persons in all these categories all the time, but just by the idea of thinking about them, you’ll be acknowledging that you need that type of support from time to time. That will bring you comfort and a compass in your way forward in life.