Name: Susanna F. Bjerrum Poulsen
Date of birth: 1981
Title: Partner, Tax
Degree: Master of Science (MSc) in Business Administration and Commercial Law, CBS, Copenhagen Business School
Fun fact: Can lose track of my phone almost anywhere
What do you find most interesting about your career and your leadership position?
The possibility of making a difference for those I interact with. Both in respect of the clients I work with, but equally for the team, developing their skill sets and mind. Being in a position where you can support, guide and empower people to reach their goals and witness the joy and satisfaction when they do, is a great privilege which I have come to appreciate even more as I have developed in my own career.
What has been crucial to get you to where you are today?
To me it is and always has been key that I am surrounded by people who are benevolent and interested in each other. We spend most of our waking hours at work, so being part of a team or projects where people show empathy and care for each other is key. It has been important to have great people around me to inspire, nudge and sometimes even push me a bit further. In addition, I have been lucky enough to have both colleagues, role models and leaders who have showed me different ways of planning and living their career paths. It has been crucial for me that leaders have listened and understood my need for a career path with different speeds and directions depending on the different phases of my life.
Tell us about a female role model and the impact they had on you – either personally or professionally?
“If you don’t work, you don’t make mistakes – if you work, you will make mistakes and that is absolutely fine”. This I was told very early on in my career by one of my close managers. It has had a great impact on my mindset, how I have developed both in my career but also personally. With this, my manager pinpointed that she had “read” me just right and pointed out clearly that even though we are in a work environment where high quality standards are our license to operate, we need to recognize the value of making mistakes. It is better to do something and learn from it, rather than not make decisions, or not try out new things. When you reflect on what happened and learn from it, you will gain so much more than if you just sit back and wait for things to happen. In all, she has, throughout my career, been a great inspiration and I have been fortunate to have her as my leader for most of my career.
What advice would you give to young female students today?
A great female inspiration once said that life should not be viewed as a journey with a predetermined path as many of us would like to think it is. Instead, life is like a dance. You set out and you do not know where you will end up on the dance floor. You follow your instinct and remember to enjoy the dance. As a student you tend to be somewhat predetermined and eager to set goals as to where you expect to be in 3, 5, or 10 years. Looking back at what I have experienced until now, I must admit that some of my best experiences and challenges I could not have imagined 16 years ago when I finished my degree. So therefore, planning is good, but if you are too pre-determined, you may not expose yourself to opportunities that may take you even further than what you could ever have imagined.
Looking into the future, what role do you think STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) education will have?
I have never doubted that STEM educations play an important role and will continue to do so. As an example, the wave of the ESG agenda that is currently impacting the way we act as individuals as well as on a corporate level, would not have the same momentum and impact if it had not been backed up by solid STEM competences.