Name: Helle Hee
Date of birth: April 1982
Degree: MSc in Business Economics and Auditing and a Graduate Diploma in Business Administration (Financial and Management Accounting)
Fun fact: I’m a sugar addict
Please describe your career trajectory, from graduation until today:
When I graduated from high school, although my grades were quite high and I had a lot of opportunities, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do. A classmate of mine wanted to be an auditor, and because we were fairly similar, I thought it could suit me too. I took a job at Ernest and Young, despite not knowing a lot about what it was.
This experience taught me that you don’t need to know everything about the choices you make, you can just dive into something that feels interesting to you and see where it takes with you.
I was born and raised in Bornholm, so when I started at this job and in my studies at university, I was away from family and friends. I spent most of my time with my new colleagues, and together we focussed on working and studying. My social activities had to become secondary, and I learnt about prioritising.
After discovering my interest in M&A, I finalised my bachelor and started my Cand Merc. I was lucky enough to get, what I considered at the time, my ‘dream job’ at Falck, where I worked with acquisitions every day and travelled the world. I was the right-hand support for a highly experienced man and project managed his acquisitions. It was a lot of hard work, but extremely rewarding.
I was fortunate enough that my husband also had a career, and knew what it takes, and what support I needed during this time. However, when we decided to have a child, I reprioritised and shifted to a Scandinavian role with M&A and business development, and reduced hours.
However, soon I dialled up my career again and was promoted to Managing Director in a subsidiary, and I learnt a lot from that journey turning the business around.
After 10 years in the Falck group, I decided to leave, without another job lined up, but soon prior colleagues now working for PwC called me and said they wanted me to lead a new business unit within the M&A area. I am currently running with that, and I was promoted to Partner last year. Taking this job was an opportunity to drill into an area where I was a true expert, and it was an opportunity to excel at what I do best.
What does good leadership mean to you?
A good leader is motivating and authentic. When I started, I thought that being a leader was a role to play, but I realised it’s not just a toolbox you can open and apply.
A key skill is empathy, executed through ability to assess the amount of work/responsibility you can delegate. A good leader can strike a balance between freedom, control, and support.
Who has inspired / been your role model – and how?
I don’t have one specific person, but I have gained inspiration from a range of people I have come across in my career, from my parents to colleagues and my previous bosses. I have seen different people who have handled specific challenges well, and I have learnt from that. For example, I had a colleague who taught me how to handle work/life balance, and another who was a role model in terms of their productivity, business ethics, leadership etc. I also find that I can learn lessons from those whose actions I don’t wish to emulate.
What lessons have you learnt in your career?
In retrospect, it’s so important who you work with. You can, of course, influence your own career, but it’s vital, when you start, that you find managers who are genuinely interested in developing you, and who can guide you in finding the tools to progress. It’s not about getting the title and the pay-check, it’s all about your leaders.
When I graduated, my teacher wrote in my student hat that I should keep asking questions. And that’s what I did. I was lucky to work with people who were receptive to my “questioning approach” and wanted to answer, thus support my development.
Why is STEM interesting to you?
STEM is crucial in what I do. The background I have is loaded in economics, data-management, and maths. Where I have drifted to in my career, is an area which predominantly is filled with softer skills profiles, but it’s so important and powerful to have the ability to convert soft initiatives into hard core financial implications. Having the right facts, data and STEM mindset gets you speaking time when important decisions are being made. Clients can trust us, because our conclusions and advice is rooted in clearly measurable information.
In retrospect, it is this data-driven mindset that makes me different from my competitors.
What are you most proud of in your professional life?
Looking back in my career, I am especially proud of the part I played in setting up a training centre in Nigeria, which today is employing 100 people and educating the local population.
In my job today, I’m especially proud of my team and the leadership feedback I receive from them. I’m working in a niche area where it is hard to find experienced hires, so I am educating my team in the skills they need. My success is seeing them grow, develop, and thrive solving our clients’ issues. Additionally, success means retaining the team and keeping the work environment interesting and enjoyable for them. That’s part of a leader’s responsibility.