Growing up on the turbulent west coast of Norway, surrounded by mountains leading to open seas, WIN founder Kristin Engvig understood at a young age how important it is for everyone to be connected, and to do something in their life that would leave the world a better place. Kristin knew that ‘going global’ was the right thing for her to do, and after receiving her degree in Business & Marketing from Oslo’s BI School of Business, she set out to pursue her MBA at SDA Bocconi University in Milan, Italy. She has also trained as an actress, and through the performing arts was able to research creativity and communication.
The early stages of her career as an international strategy and global marketing consultant, helped form the foundation of what would later become WIN (Women’s International Networking). Since then, Kristin has travelled extensively and worked with women across all continents and employed her own strategic plan for the continuing evolution of WIN. Having started out with major multinational companies like JPMorgan, Citibank and Innovation Norway, Kristin realised that there was a gap in the workplace and in how we dealt with each other and the world at large. Working as a consultant with global companies, she felt that people should be able to bring their creative sides into the workplace.
This gap was transformed into a vision for WIN: ‘to bring a more feminine, global and sustainable vision to work, communities and life’. And this vision would in turn be transformed into a platform – a global annual conference to empower, develop and connect women leaders. From this initial platform, Kristin’s vision has developed into a mission: to provide a global networking and learning symposium that serves as a reference point for women working internationally, and connects them with organisations active in women’s leadership and diversity & inclusion.
Kristin pursues this mission throughout the year, hosting ‘mobilizing women events’ in various countries, and holding quarterly ‘corporate networking group’ meetings where professionals meet to discuss topical issues in the business world. An expert in networking, community building, and strategic partnering, she has become renowned for inspiring people to make a project or a dream, a reality. She frequently speaks at conferences for companies and organisations around the world and writes regularly about women’s journeys. In Kristin's own research and “journey life” (as she calls it), and essential to her vision and being, is her passion for family, community, creativity, acting, yoga, Zen, and continuous learning.
"Kristin was a finalist at the European Women of Achievement Award, and won the 2010 International Alliance of Women Award."
“Being inclusive and embracing diversity is a daily practice. It is a way to grow at an individual level and to evolve collectively. It requests your open heart and your commitment.’’- Kristin Engvig After 20 years of working on women’s leadership and hosting the premier women’s leadership forum, here are some thoughts from Kristin Engvig – CEO and Founder-WIN, on what needs to be taken into account if you want to bring your organization into the future integrating the largest talent on the planet, women.
Here in Lausanne, where I am based, it has been raining a lot. As I walked to work this morning, I enjoyed smelling the grass, the flowers and trees which are all in full bloom and I also loved the rain on my face this rainy summer’s day. As I savoured the taste of morning coffee, I decided to write and share how important it is to become conscious of our sensors (sight, smell, touch, taste, hearing) to ignite the multidimensional and passionate creators in us for all areas of life, business and play.
For leaders it is particularly important to have sensorial awareness of how the context around us creates us and how we create it. If we imagine the environment as a garden we may wish to create nourishing conditions so that a variety of flowers grow and bloom. An example of this is how much is done to fix the women so that they are right for a company while what is needed is to create the conditions for them to succeed. As a leader, you are the one who must take care of the garden. I listen to hundreds of women, many working in companies and multinational organizations. Most like their jobs.
They enjoy being valued and having the opportunity to apply their knowledge, skills and productivity. They may be Japanese, British, Danish, Swiss or Argentinian. Most of those I meet are women. Many are smart and have quickly learned the ways of the game in a company. Several tell me how they long for deeper meaning and feel that their organizations are too focused on short term results, high growth, high competition and cost cuts. When feminine values are not integrated in the workplace, it causes them to feel ‘something is missing’ or worse, for far too many, it causes them to live with a constant conflict inside, as if something within is just not right.
Many women tell me they would even like to leave their jobs. Not to go home to be with the kids, but to start something on their own. They share, often whispering, that they want more purpose, freedom, be in a work environment where they can be more creative, contribute authentically and allow caring and sharing to be part of the equation.
A powerful woman came to a WIN meeting in a stunning red dress sharing how she had pulled it from her closet for the occasion, not putting it on for the last 20 years, as she couldn’t wear it anywhere else - at her work they only wore dark suits. Tears came to my eyes, because no matter age, shape or form, feeling beautiful is such a joy and we must not be afraid of not conforming.
Let’s support each other in that. These women, just like you, don’t mind working intensely and although some say work has to match their values others don’t say anything, they simply say they don’t know how nor what exactly they want to transform, they just feel they need something different. Women definitely want a different work environment, feel a different atmosphere.
During the WINConference – Europe’s leading women’s forum – we ask: ‘What would happen if the feminine power, creativity and joy that we have at WIN were released into all companies?’ When we feel that we can be our authentic selves and appreciated for that, we bring all of enthusiasm into the job. The organization will benefit more than they can even imagine by having an engaged, valued employee full of life at work. We need only to look at the ‘before’ and ‘after’ photos from the WINConference to see what happens to a person after 3 days in an open, dynamic and inclusive environment. Everyone is glowing and has joy in their walks. People become alive and confident to take on the world. It is priceless.
What if companies could learn to do the same? What if our purpose matched that of our organization? What if your work environment allowed you to truly be yourself, share and trust? Organizations would prosper. When people spend 3 days together at the WINConference, you can see that they have become more conscious in their powerful, authentic selves. Such a context and practice of feminine qualities are desperately needed in the world.
Some of you reading this are already experts. For the rest, here is the good news. It can be learnt.
We know that how each and every one of us contributes matters to the whole and hence everyone makes a difference. With the awareness that we are all creators and co-creators of the environments in which we are a part , we begin with ourselves. ‘Who do I need to become and what can I do? If you become great at this, you transform your company without ever having to leave. Become a conscious creator of inclusive environments in all areas of your life. You are taking care of the garden, remember? Use your senses, take note of what is going on around you, become aware of the atmosphere and the environment. Put yourself in the shoes of another person and see things from various views.
Be brave enough to contribute in a way that becomes nourishing for everyone around you, don’t just conform to the ‘way’ it’s done here if that is not a great ‘way’ Lead the Way – beautiful and connected and confidence will come to you! To learn more and to grow, the very best time, for women and men, is to come back to the WIN Conference and tap into this incredible feminine energy that it brings each and every one who is in contact with it. Bring a friend, your boss, a colleague. They will also feel at home.
We will be in Italy where sensorial living is a part of daily life. We will make sure you taste the coffee, feel the sun, move your body, learn from speakers, participate in workshops and connect in magic environment that will expand your possibilities. For everyone pioneering the future and leading the way, such a possibility becomes of vital importance. For everyone else, it is important too.
I would not miss it. 28.29.30 Sept 1(Oct) 2016, Rome www.winconference.net