Norway has been a leading ski nation for decades. But, much like the energy industry, there is still some way to go when it comes to female representation in leadership. In response to this challenge Equinor has collaborated with the Norwegian Ski Association to create the Female Ski Leaders of Tomorrow programme.
The programme aims to improve gender balance in Norwegian snow sports through openness and experience sharing. For three years, twenty future leaders take part in exciting initiatives, including being mentored by inspiring leaders from the sports and business world.
Andrea Bell Pedersen is a programme participant and has been mentored by Kristin Kloster Aasen, vice president of the Norwegian Olympic and Paralympic Committee and Confederation of Sports between 2011 and 2019 and a member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) from 2017. We asked Andrea and Kristin to share their thoughts on why mentorship is an essential part of empowering the next generation of female leaders.
Andrea: the mentee
As a programme participant, Andrea recognizes the importance of solid role models and guidance. "The most valuable part of the program has been the collaboration with my mentor, Kristin. She has supported me but also challenged me along the way. We discuss and share a lot, and there is a proactive interaction: she always picks up the phone when I ring and is always there for me when I need a chat. I often just need her to confirm that I am making choices that are the best for me.
"We all, who are young, have something to offer – regardless of gender. When we get a seat at the table, we must be able to own our roles and 'walk the talk' for those who come behind us. This is a great responsibility."
Andrea Bell Pedersen
Andrea also has some reflections about the future. If she were a mentor, she would advise people to be curious and proactive: "we all have something to offer – regardless of gender. When we get a seat at the table, we must be able to own our roles and 'walk the talk' for those who come behind us. This is a great responsibility.".
Finally, she shares her call for action: "do not be afraid to ask for advice! I find that most people take it as a compliment when asked to provide input. If possible, try to involve several mentors within different professions and with different skills. I learn a lot from that and let myself be inspired by other people I admire".
Kristin, the mentor
Despite her extensive and inspiring career in sports, Kristin has never been part of a formal mentoring programme. "But I have had many informal mentors, and I have had people who always supported and encouraged me.".