Empowering Women to Take on Leadership Roles

Empowering Women to Take on Leadership Roles: An Inspiring Talk with Open iT SVP, Signe Marie Stenseth

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In honor of all mothers during this yearly celebrated Mother’s Day, our blog post for today reflects on the milestones of what women have achieved in business management. To celebrate this special day, we sat down with one of the inspiring female leaders of this generation.

Meet Signe Marie Stenseth; the Senior Vice President of Open iT, Inc. Signe, as she is called by her colleagues, has many years of business and leadership experience under her belt. She has been the driving force of Open iT’s leadership team since 2000 while being a devoted mom of 5 young boys. If you’re looking for some insight from a business woman who knows work and life balance as a mom and senior executive, then Signe is a fantastic source. Here are some of her shared secrets:

1. What do you find as the most exciting part of your job?
I love the fast pace of our industry. I have always been a person that looks for improvements, set high goals and then carry through the change.

2. Which one of your many accomplishments are you most proud of and why?
I am most proud of being a mother of five. They give me great pleasure and also teach me a lot. When they tell me: “Mom, you have to be patient.” or “You can do this, Mom!”, it really encourages me. Also, being a mom teaches me that the most valuable in life has been given to us. That is why I believe we need to be humble. We have not earned our life – our life has been given to us. Let’s use it for something good!

3. What do you do either personally or within your corporation to empower women to take on leadership positions?
I have always focused more on the individual level: How can we build a culture that supports and develops each other to reach our potentials. Personally, I have never paid so much attention to gender or age or background – I enjoy working with people that are committed and passionate about what they are doing! Studies show how important diversity is for a company in order to be successful. Open iT has embraced women in leadership positions since its very start, together with developing young leaders of both genders.

4. In what ways can women, especially young females who want to take management positions, develop their leadership skills to the next level?
A lot has been said to this topic. I think one important thing is the ability to embrace the uncertainty: To say yes to challenges you have not had before, to develop an appetite for learning. If there is one thing you have to count on as a leader – you will be noticed! You will be given positive and negative feedback. Can you handle that? This is something you need to commit to as a leader.

5. If you’re talking to your 20 year old self right now, a young woman who just graduated and was on her way to her first job, what’s that one piece of advice would you give to your younger self?
Do not be afraid of saying “yes” to new challenges! If someone believes in you, you should too! And learn from your failures! You learn more from your failures than your successes. Be thankful for the ability to learn and grow.

6. You have been a Senior Vice President for many years now, a very long time to be in such a stressful role. What do you do to relax and unwind?
Taking time off is very important; as much as possible no work during weekends. Often, I feel tempted to take home some work with me on Friday night, and sometimes I have to, of course, but if I can avoid it, I do. I try to have Saturday or at least all Sunday off. When Monday comes, I can look forward to give focus to my work again.

7. What are your thoughts on achieving that work/life balance?
Setting boundaries is the key to achieve work life balance. Finding balance is a decision. Family meals are important to me: They are quality time! I make breakfast with the kids and make it home for dinner time as often I can.

8. Juggling tasks between a career and a close family life is always a challenge for most working moms, what advice would you give for women who feel like they aren’t achieving 100 percent on either front?
Again, I would stress the importance of setting family time on your calendar. I have not been so good at attending every sports or school events. But I do not think my kids feel unloved: The fact that I work hard, help them also understand that life is not all about them: “Mom loves me even if she doesn’t see me score all the goals!

9. What lesson would you like to take from your career choices?
I have gotten the opportunity to work in multiple organizations and industries. This has given me a great platform to operate on. Hence, I feel privilege that I have a job now where I can serve global customers in many verticals and be focused on adding business value to them through our solution.

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