Last week I had the fortune to do something very special and close to my heart: celebrate and learn from successful female executives from both sides of the Atlantic!
The Swedish-American Executive Women’s conference is organized by the Swedish-American Chamber of Commerce based in New York City. This year we commemorated the 10th anniversary of the dynamic women’s conference which this year saw tickets sell out months in advance. This is a testament to the work of the chamber’s first female President, Renee Lundholm, who has made SACC-NY into an effective vehicle for shared Swedish and American values and deepening people-to-people ties between our two nations through business.
The theme of this year’s conference was prescient and forward-thing: Making money in the 21st century. How do we evolve along with changing business models and shifting demographics to continue creating growth in our companies?
Several panels intermixed with individual speeches focused on “knowing and growing your value”, growth and leadership in a financially turbulent and constantly changing world, and even more detailed explanations of private equity versus conglomerate business models. Much of the discussions focused on trends and how to adapt those into growth. The co-existing trends of urbanization and digitalization, a quest for simplicity and essentiality, how the Internet is changing consumer behaviors and business models, and changing demographics, were topics of discussion.
Healthy renewal is central to any organization. I believe leadership and profitability in the future will rely largely in an ability to foresee challenges and adapt to change. This was the over-arching theme of my keynote remarks at the conference, which I was very honored to be able to deliver to such an amazing group of women.
My speech focused on how we can harness the unique values of the Millennial generation to create greater profitability. But beyond that, how can we use the values of openness, work-life balance and transparency to advance women’s leadership and create a more diverse, dynamic future workplace. In my opinion, there is a clear synchronicity between the values set of the young generation and women’s leadership.
I also believe that the United States and Sweden are ideal partners in promoting women’s empowerment. Lagom (work-life balance), consensus, transparency and even decentralized office spaces with the elimination of the “corner office” have been interwoven into Swedish society for several generations already. Our strong shared values and future goals for socially just societies bring us together with our Swedish friends on a very substantive level and make the possibilities for future partnership on gender equality and entrepreneurship, as well as a variety of other areas, endless.
I will end by imparting the advice that these successful women were willing to share with us in the audience on how to maximize their professional potential.
· Build on our strengths, not fret continuously on our weaknesses
· Women tend to say “no” more to opportunities, say “yes”!
· Find a mentor, or better yet a sponsor, to support you over the long-term and explain the informal rules of an organization to you
· Have passion for your job, but also for making your community better
· Follow your gut instincts
· Stay “employable”, always do the right thing and protect your personal brand, reputation is everything
· Keep your pulse on how business is changing, find an area where you can be part of transformative change
· Try out different roles and reinvent yourself, never stop learning
· Women have something special of their own to bring to the table. Don’t feel that you need to bring the qualities a man would bring, being different is a plus!
Thank you Renee Lundholm, SACC-NY and the amazing women who participated in the conference for opening my eyes to new ways of thinking about growth and value and inspiring me to believe in myself and promote other women too!
For more pictures from the event, see our Flickr page!