Name: Helle Risbjerg Nielsen
Date of birth: 1978
Title: Vice President and Head of Risk Management & Market Analytics
Degree: MSc(Econ)/ Cand. Merc. (Fir). Master of Science in Economics and Business Administrationrgb(50,10,73)
What do you find most interesting about your career and your leadership position?
I enjoy and I am very much driven by creating followership through clear communication of the direction and must-wins for my organization. By combining my passion for people and for getting to know each person’s qualities and motivational drivers, I have through the years developed my own leadership recipe. When it works, it gives me a lot of energy and the results created by the organization are impressive.
What has been crucial to get you to where you are today?
As a person, I am always scrutinizing how I can do better; every day, every meeting that I attend – maybe even too much sometimes. However, that part of my personality has definitely played a big role in where I am today. I would also say that I have taken quite a few chances in my career – both by studying abroad and being on my own at a young age, working abroad in different sectors and in Ørsted I have tried out manager positions in different parts of the organization. The kind of experience that you get from forcing yourself out of your comfort zone from time to time is priceless, because it builds robustness and the ability to see things from different points of view. Lastly, I must say that the tireless support of my nearest family has been, and is still, crucial for me. Working in a fast-paced, ambitious and growing company while balancing being a wife and busy mother of 3 small children is quite a stretch. Some days can be exhausting and on those days the support from my family is what keeps me energized.
Tell us about a female role model and the impact they had on you – either personally or professionally?
I don’t have one specific female role model, but I have a number of women in my close family, friends and in Ørsted by whom I get inspired. Generally, I pick up a lot of inspiration and learnings from men and women in senior management, my peers and my employees – which I can use where I see it fits my values as a leader. I believe in authenticity and being myself is very important. Firstly, because I believe this is how to build trust with the people around me. If I dare to share some of my insecurities, my experience is that the trust is returned by colleagues and employees.
Secondly, I am more and more convinced that keeping your own authenticity is crucial in the diversity agenda – or said in other words, if diversity is not followed by inclusion of peoples’ differences, we won’t achieve the benefits of diversity. For example, I think that for many years, female leaders have tried to adopt male-dominated behaviour to make it to higher management levels. With the diversity and inclusion agenda, this is changing and it is an area in which I have a strong wish to be a role model myself.
What advice would you give to young female students today?
First and foremost, be yourself and emphasize your personal authenticity. Secondly, don’t always take the direct path; try out different roles and experiences – learn from them and use the learnings in your next adventure. Thirdly, strive to push yourself out of comfort zone; explore and exploit opportunities for studying and/or working abroad.
Looking into the future, what role do you think STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) education will have?
That is a very broad question, but I know for sure that in my industry, renewable energy, where the global growth is massive and the need for developing cost effective technologies is there, STEM capabilities are and will continue to be a prerequisite for success. In combination with an increasing awareness of the importance of diversity and inclusion, a STEM education seems like the perfect cocktail for ambitious, female students.