This week, 8th of March, is the International Women’s Day (IWD), and we'll highlight and put our focus on one of the IWD Missons; To forge inclusive work cultures where women’s careers thrive and their achievements are celebrated.
IWD is an opportunity to celebrate the successes that women have achieved but also mark a call to action for accelerating gender parity. To mark IWD 2022 we have asked a couple of female leaders at Quinyx to share their experiences and perspectives of being a female leader within the tech industry.
Can you please introduce yourself?
My name is Marie Ahlberg. I’m the CFO of Quinyx and I live in Vasastan, an area in central Stockholm, with my husband and two beloved girls, aged 4 and 1. I grew up in Karlskoga, a small town in the middle of Sweden, and that’s where I still have my mom, dad and brother. I’m blessed with having some really awesome women as close friends and am very proud of them all.
Loyalty is important to me and I tend to keep friends for the long term. I met my best one (and now almost neighbour) some 30+ years ago. I also love to travel and previously have lived abroad in Dubai, London, Washington DC and Milan. Today I’m settled in Stockholm and love to combine the urban life with spending time in our summer house outside of the city.
When you began your career, did you ever imagine yourself having a leadership role?
Actually yes! From quite early on, when I was aged 16 or so,, I knew that I wanted to work with numbers and have always loved maths, hence I chose the field of finance. However, socially I have naturally tended to take a leadership role and be the one taking the lead.
Who inspired you to be a leader and why?
I had very few female role models in my previous career in Corporate Finance. Instead, I sadly saw that some really competent and hard working young women chose other career paths as the work environment wasn’t very supportive for females. So I tended to be the only female in my team.
But I suppose my mom, having followed her dream and built up her own company has of course been a great source of inspiration! She is not afraid of being “loud” and to follow her instinct and that is inspirational to me!
As a female leader, can you tell us more about any significant gender related roadblocks you’ve experienced?
I’m really blessed to have worked with a lot of supportive people over the years, most of them being men. So really no roadblocks, but I would instead put it as I saw the need of “speaking up” and not to sit around and wait for someone to ask for my opinion.
The only thing I might have struggled with is the social chatter. I’ve sometimes had other interests or actively needed to invest in the social parts as that is extremely important to gain trust and build culture.
How do you think we can stop gender biases?
As we are doing now, continue to openly discuss the issue and not make it a “women’s issue” but a corporate one. And to make sure to have some good role models in place. However, I am not a fan of assigning a certain quota for women but would say that a person’s merits should speak for itself.
Why do you think companies would benefit from having more women at the top?
Ultimately, because different views and perspectives are a catalyst for decision making. A homogenous group would lack that fruitful debate and twisting and turning of perspectives.
I truly value that our Chairman Maria Åhr is a woman (and an awesome one!) and that has a big impact on the whole company. Maria is a true role model with her “soft on the people, hard on the issues” approach and the big focus she puts on culture and the people at Quinyx.
Why should more females be attracted to the tech industry?
Simply because it is a fast growing, important and fun industry to be in! Also, in a more “modern” industry, I’d say that gender biases are less visible.
What’s helped you the most in your career?
That would be supportive colleagues and honestly, a lot of hard work.
What advice would you give to the next generation of female leaders?
Make sure to have a manager who supports you and don’t be afraid to articulate where you see your career going. As a woman, you might need to be extra clear to yourself and others on what you want and make sure to earn that. It is a lot of hard work, but it’s great fun as well!
Why is IWD important?
To have conversations just like these. To inspire each other, put focus on the issues and make sure we support each other, regardless of background, sex, religion or other things defining you as a human.