Lone Mortensen

Danmarks Nationalbank

“You must seize chances and opportunities when they are given. We are so good at telling ourselves that “I’m probably not good enough / competent enough for that”. We become an obstacle for ourselves. It’s important to also say to yourself: “I haven’t tried that before, so I can do that”. See the options. Be brave. Be honest”

Name: Lone Mortensen
Title: COO
Company: Danmarks Nationalbank
Degree: MSc in Political Science

  1. Introduce yourself, and share a fun fact that makes you unique!

My name is Lone Mortensen, I am 56 years old. I graduated as Master of Science (MSc) in Political Science (Cand.Scient.Pol) from Aarhus University 1992. Further, I studied organizational psychology from 2007 – 2009 at Institut for Gruppe-analyse (OPU).

I love colours and colourful clothes. During the Copenhagen Pride week I tried to wear as colourful clothes as possible each day – and it got noticed. My Executive Assistant asked her kids how they thought her boss looked – and the answer from the kids was that “he was a man, bald, with a beard, wearing a suit and driving a big, black car”. Then she showed them a photo of me in a multicoloured striped dress with yellow sneakers. 

  1. What does a day in your life look like as a COO at Danmarks Nationalbank?

At Corporate Services, we are responsible for a wide range of service, operational and development tasks, which together form the foundation and framework for the other departments’ work to ensure a robust Danish economy. I prefer working from home one day a week, but since I wish to be visible and attend a lot of meetings I often go to the office. Since Corporate Services consists of 7 different sections, my days and the topics of the agendas and decisions I am involved in vary and are versatile.  

  1. What motivates and excites you the most about your career path and the leadership position you hold?

During my time at Danske Bank, I was given the opportunity to study organizational psychology at OPU for 2 years (IGA). There I gained many good insights into both myself and my own reaction patterns and into organizational dynamics in both small and larger groups. It both motivates and excites me to have gained these insights and I make an effort to be aware and are curious towards the organizational and group dynamics in the different settings I interact in. 

  1. Share with us the biggest lessons you learned on your journey to where you are today.

It sounds so cliché, but you must be yourself and stand up for the values you believe in. You must act in accordance with your values. I must be able to look myself in the eyes every day in relation to the choices I make and the decisions I make. You must seize chances and opportunities when they are given. We are so good at telling ourselves that “I’m probably not good enough / competent enough for that”. We become an obstacle for ourselves. It’s important to also say to yourself: “I haven’t tried that before, so I can do that”. See the options. Be brave. Be honest.

  1. Tell us about a (female) role model who inspired you to become the leader you are today, and how (s)he impacted you personally or professionally.

I believe there are a great number of female role models, and I haven’t been inspired by one in particular, but I recently attended an event where Caroline Farberger spoke about inclusion and Diversity. She is the first senior business leader in the Nordics to speak openly about her gender transition, having formerly lived as Carl Farberger, and she has become an advocate and ambassador for diversity. Her story inspired me highly, but especially her thoughts and perspective on inclusive leadership, where she was very honest about that inclusive leaderships isn’t something, you talk about, it’s something you do. 

  1. If you could give one piece of advice to your younger self, or to other young female students today, what would it be?

Throughout my working life, it has been important to me to develop myself and I have continuously been inspired by learning new things. At one point in my first management job, I no longer felt like management, I think it was because I had difficulty reconciling the role of manager with my desire to also be one of the more professionally skilled in the team, but I couldn’t manage both roles. 

Despite I was advised otherwise, I chose to step down. I focused on my professionalism and on creating good results, and it took a few years before I had the courage to take on the leadership role again. And then I had found the balance. I have accepted positions where I have gone from being the manager of many people to being the manager of 2-3 people. Because the position was interesting. I have been involved in large projects during my time at Danske Bank, which have been super exciting and educational. 

So, my advice is: 

Be good at what you do and work with now. Do your very best. Focus on where you are now and what you can do better. Then the opportunities will come. And then grab them when they come. If, contrary to expectations, they don’t offer themselves, talk to your manager about your ambitions and desires. If you don’t say anything, your manager won’t know where you are. Don’t be afraid to be open about your ambitions. And least but not last, talk to your spouse about your career. It is important if and when you have kids, that you both agree to share the household duties and maternity/paternity leave equally.

  1. How do you see STEM education shaping the future?

Our society and our work are changing, and we are constantly becoming more digital and dependent on science, technology, engineering and mathematics. For instance the tasks in Danmarks Nationalbank have changed continuously over the years and will continue to develop along with society. In the past, the main task was the production of physical money; today payments are primarily digital. This puts other items on the agenda: critical infrastructure, cybersecurity, data science etc. and it also requires other skills. The future is already here, and the society are highly dependent on the STEM education to research and present the right solutions so we can navigate accordingly, both on short and long term. 

  1. Why is it important for you to promote diversity and inclusion within STEM?

It’s important to promote diversity and inclusion within STEM because I do believe that if we are able to include a broader perspective, not only agree and make decisions with peers that are similar and thinks the same as us, we will gain much better results. Whether it concerns a product, deciding on a strategy, planning communication or something else, by being open and including towards other perspectives the solutions and results will become of much higher value.   

  1. What steps has your company taken to promote a more diverse and inclusive workplace, and which one has been the most effective?

Danmarks Nationalbank launched a new strategy last year where strong learning culture, inclusion, diversity and equal possibilities are main principles. The Danish Central bank is a knowledge organisation, and the performance of tasks often requires diverse skills and perspectives. Diversity and inclusion are key foundations for achieving optimum results and a good working environment. Consequently, we focus on supporting diversity and inclusion in a variety of areas, e.g., in relation to gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, education, and age and we are working on implementing this in concrete organizational initiatives and in our daily operation. As an example, we focus on employing more women in jobs that traditionally have been occupied by men, and we continuously follow up on the quotient and aim for equal possibilities regardless of gender. Besides this we for the first time took part in celebrating and marking Copenhagen Pride as a part of the bank’s focus on creating an inclusive workplace and culture, where diversity is seen as a strength.