A few weeks ago the we were at Ingvars place in Småland for trainee programme week. We were huddled up in the living room by the fireplace listening to stories from one of his caretakers. She was telling stories about the company leaders coming out there to work and discuss with each other. There were so many exciting and intriguing stories about big decisions, and they all had something in common: they only included men.
Then she looked around the room at the management trainee group, consisting of 12 women and 2 men, and said: obviously things have changed. In short: in the trainee programme, each supervisor choses their own trainee. It’s up to them to choose the most fitting person for the assignment. I’ll talk more about different kinds of diversity in another entry. But for now I want to talk about this major shift.
A few years ago I was out for lunch with my mentor, (then) a top manager for Ericsson. She told me about a culture that neither her nor I were raised into. How men for so long have been taught to have each others back and help each other out. You scratch my back, I scratch yours. When I was growing up it was more like: you look in my career direction and we both scratch each others faces off. It’s mine.
For a long time women were scarce in engineering and many other fields. Other women were considered competition, because there could only be so many of us at the top at the same time. We had a quota.
That conversation with my mentor changed so much for me. I got engaged in networks like Pepp and realized how much quicker I was succeeding when I helped others, even with the most tiny things. Since then I’ve worked so hard to find people who believe in me, that can lift me, while I in turn find people who I believe in, that I want to drag along with me. Not women or men. People!
Find a crew that believes in you fiercely. They are the ones that’ll make you succeed! And whatever opportunity you get, give the same passion and encouragement back to them.