10 minutes of inspiration with Bolette Christensen

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In 1990 Bolette Christensen began her professional career as a Management Development Consultant in the insurance industry and was appointed her first management position three years later. A year later, from 1994-2003 she was appointed Head of Management Development at Danish Confederation of Industries. In 2003 Bolette was promoted Deputy Director at Danish Confederation of Industries, a position she held until her appointment as Director at Danish Confederation of Industries in 2008.

In 2011 Bolette was appointed CEO of B├śRNEfonden, which is her current employment. In this role she is working to strengthen the development of African children and youth based on the notion that sustainable development begins with the children, families and communities. 

Bolette holds a number of positions as chairman of the board primarily with focus on socio-economic and educational development of youth. She has a Master's degree in Psychology from the University of Copenhagen majoring in Business Psychology from 1991. Furthermore Bolette has obtained an Executive MBA from Scandinavian International Management Institute.

What were some of your early influences? 
My earliest influence was being elected as Chair of the Student Council at my school when I was 12-13 years old. I also served as the student representative on the school's board, and early on I was vividly aware of how much I appreciate the opportunity to make a difference. Furthermore, it made me conscious about my desire to deliver results, express my opinions and make these influence decision making. I also found at this early age that I am a natural networker, who thrives on building relationships with various stakeholder groups: Companies, within politics, other professionals, NGOs and students to name just a few. 

My career was markedly influenced by the fact that I was promoted to my first leadership position when I was 28. The experiences I had gained in adolescence did not fail me, and since then I have continuously been responsible for making results as well as for a number of employees. 

Who or what has been an inspiration in your career?
My greatest inspiration was my former Director General at the Confederation of Danish Industry, Hans Skov Christensen. He was a true visionary in the most motivating sense of the word. Hans was able to provide latitude to grow and become the best we could. On top of that he was an exquisite strategic and political networker, which was thus a great enabler for the organization.

What have been some of the highlights?
An overall highlight is the fact that I have been able to achieve my goals to the benefit of considerable growth and potential for myself as a professional. Additionally, I am proud to have made an impact on many leaders in Denmark and the rest of the world in my career and to have been an opinion former on women and leadership and diversity.

What have been some of the challenges? And what helped you overcome these?
When I first began my career in leadership, the burden of the responsibility for the various dynamics within the employee groups that I was responsible for weighed heavier than it does today. Time however has provided me with the tools and methods to cope and to facilitate such challenges. 

As all leaders, and human beings for that matter, I have experienced times of crisis or resistance. Under troublesome circumstances it is my coping mechanism to break down the challenge at hand and then work my way through it piece by piece. I have made it a point to be well aware of my work load capability, which has been a life saver at times.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years' time?
In 5 years I am in charge of an organization on the move. I appreciate to always challenge status quo and to keep on pushing forward.  My organization has moved one step closer to the world and is making a significant impact on the areas we work with. I believe that the way forward in any industry is to explore, create and develop productive partnership, ideally in a socio-economically beneficial construct. 

What advice would you give to your younger self?
The advice I give to all young professionals, and that I'd be happy to advise my own younger self, is to be true to yourself by taking the responsibility to be aware of your own strengths and weaknesses. 

The buzzword 'du jour' is to be authentic in your leadership. To me authenticity means to be who you are, regardless of what others expect you to do or be. In other words to be able to navigate the various impulses that we are continuously exposed to and stay on the course dictated by your inner compass, whether it regards values, workload, decisions, recruitments, etc.