© PHOTO: Private Photo

Female leadership: “Explorative, Passionate, and Courageous”. Camilla defining traits that have guided her along the way.

Interview with Camilla Giske HR Director, Flakk Group by Guro A. Johnsen CEO and founder of SheSkillz Global

Delve into Camilla Giske’s extraordinary journey— from pharmacist to Flakk Group’s CHRO. Her audacious story, fuelled by relentless curiosity, spans diverse industries. A narrative etched with courage, passion, and unwavering determination. Join us in discovering a leader defined by her explorative, passionate, and courageous spirit.

Can you tell us about yourself and the journey that led you to where you are today?

Camilla: Certainly. I pursued my education as a pharmacist at the University of Oslo. During my student years, the pharmaceutical industry went through significant changes, particularly with the entrance of major retail pharmacy chains into Norway. This shift presented me with opportunities early in my career, both locally and internationally. Reflecting on my life, I attribute my path to my natural curiosity, eagerness to learn, and a profound interest in meeting  people. This mindset has driven me to explore various opportunities, where one opportunity often led to another.

I believe my curiosity and willingness to take risks have been critical in pursuing new roles and responsibilities. I often ask myself, “What’s the worst that could happen?” Pharmacy is a stable profession offering job security. The job market is robust and especially earlier on in my career this was making it less intimidating to explore exciting prospects. In a way my choice of pursuing a quite traditional education as a pharmacist also provided me with enough security to dare to be brave.The demand for pharmacists is always present.


Regarding leadership, do you think working as a pharmacist offers valuable leadership training?

Camilla: Certainly. The evolving pharmacy market allows for early exposure to leadership roles, as a professional leader or a manager with personnel responsibilities. The industry’s commercial nature offers an opportunity to learn financial management early in one’s career. Major pharmacy chains offer management programs that effectively groom leaders.

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Reflecting on your career, is there anything you would have changed?

Camilla: I’ve pondered this question multiple times. Ultimately, I’ve concluded that I wouldn’t change anything. The opportunities I’ve encountered along my journey have been incredibly enriching. It’s essential to adapt and capitalize on available educational and career opportunities. Norway’s system facilitates educational and career shifts, enabling individuals to create their unique path. Overall, I’m content with how my journey has unfolded.


How do you define good leadership?

Camilla: Good leadership is about setting direction and involves aligning the overall vision and strategy with your team’s goals-  whileostering an environment where every individual’s ideas and strengths are valued. Recruitment is a crucial aspect—daring to bring in fresh perspectives and enabling mutual learning and growth within the team, contributing to improved results.

Camilla: I would emphasise the leader I’d work for, maybe even more than the company. Development opportunities matter, whether through expansive corporate structures or thriving small businesses where growth and learning can happen simultaneously. A good leader trumps a high salary in the long run. This choice significantly influences the path ahead.


What are your thoughts on having a gender-balanced senior management team?

Camilla: Diversity is crucial. A visual lack of gender diversity (and diversity in general) in a company’s leadership may raise concerns. If a company predominantly features a single gender on its website, it indicates a concerning lack of diversity. Genuine actions are more powerful than mere words on a website.


Is it possible that women sometimes accept being the sole woman in a team, thinking they can change the dynamics?

Camilla: It might depend on the context. Being the first often requires caution. Speaking to managers and gauging openness to change is crucial. We need trailblazers to demonstrate change’s viability, eventually making it an attractive option for others. Certain industries remain male-dominated and achieving gender balance might take longer in such sectors.


Could you describe the gender diversity at Flakk Group?

Camilla: The Flakk Group operates across various industries,in some industries like the hotel and restaurant sector wehave more female representation, on all levels and also in management. It’s a family business, now being led by the third and fourth generations, with the fourth generation comprising two young women who own the majority share. The evolving landscape of Flakk Group’s businesses intrigued me, motivating me to be part of this exciting journey.


What challenges have you faced in your professional journey?

Camilla: I’ve experienced working in growing companies where change was a constant. Adapting colleagues to change requires effective communication. I believe open and transparent   communication is pivotal, especially for leaders and management, in navigating such challenges. When more colleagues understand “why” change is necessary its also easier to implement

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Are you inclined to push yourself out of your comfort zone?

Camilla: Yes, definitely. I seek out experiences that challenge my comfort zone, be it in my professional or personal life. Stepping into the unknown is essential for growth. For example, transitioning from the pharmacy industry, where I was well-versed, to the IT and technology sector was intimidating initially. However, this shift turned out to be successful, pushing me to embrace further changes in my current role


Flakk Group operates nationally and internationally. What makes it an attractive workplace?

Camilla: Flakk Group’s family ownership structure, emphasising family involvement and a long-term even generation perspective, offers employees opportunities to influence and leave a lasting impact. The passion within the team for their work across diverse industries, coupled with the accessibility to family decision-makers, promotes a collaborative and driven work environment. Additionally, the company’s dedication to contributing to social sustainability by creating jobs, both in larger urban cities and smaller places, is appealing to many.


Is there a common thread in the various roles you’ve held?

Camilla: Growth and development seem to be a recurring theme across my roles. My current role in a rapidly growing company necessitates expertise to structure and manage this growth effectively. Working across different industries has significantly broadened my knowledge and added value to my professional journey.


You’ve been a mentee and are now becoming a mentor. What drives you in this role?

Camilla:  The SheSkillz Global mentorship programs excite me due to the inherent learning opportunities. A mentor provides guidance and a space to discuss ideas, especially considering the isolation that leadership roles can sometimes bring. As a mentor now, I find it gratifying to assist a rising woman in another industry, as it also enriches my perspectives on younger generations’ work priorities.  This I can take back with me in my daily work.  The learning goes both ways.


How did your mentor, Ivana Bonnet, who held several senior positions, influence you?

Camilla: Ivana’s diverse professional and cultural background was particularly fascinating, adding a unique dimension to my learning experience. In a world where we get increasingly exposed to different cultures, I believe it’s crucial for both young and seasoned professionals to work across cultures/countries to gain invaluable perspectives beyond the Norwegian scope.


Do you believe Norwegian companies are open enough to foreign experience?

Camilla: Unfortunately, some Norwegian companies seem hesitant about foreign experiences, missing out on global perspectives. We’re in an increasingly interconnected world, and embracing diverse cultural insights is crucial. If we disregard these perspectives, we risk falling behind in the global marketplace.


How do you feel about the role of SheSkillz Global in promoting female visibility?

Camilla: SheSkillz Global offers an important platform for women to explore opportunities and for companies, including Flakk Group, to promote open positions to a wider audience. The option for candidates to remain anonymous while showcasing their profiles is especially helpful.  Looking at immigrant women and those with disabilities it will help reduce biases in recruitment processes.


In your opinion, is Norway truly an equal society?

Camilla: If we look at our legal rights, women have all the same rights as men. However,  I believe we still have strides to make. Examining the statistics, especially concerning women in leadership positions, reveals substantial gaps. Equal pay remains a concern despite regulatory requirements for companies to report on these parameters. I guess the status shows that patterns created over hundreds of years takes time to change and that changing laws and regulations doesn’t take us all the way there. Mere reporting without necessary actions won’t drive meaningful change.


Your thoughts on the CORE report suggesting minimal progress in gender balance within the management team?

Camilla: The findings are concerning. It seems we’ve become complacent in assuming Norway is already gender-equal, overlooking the need to showcase female role models and address this imbalance. We must encourage dialogue and actively showcase the accomplishments of women to initiate substantial changes.


What role does the media play in amplifying female role models?

 Camilla: The media plays a significant role in amplifying the success stories of women and minorities in general. It’s crucial to encourage successful women to be vocal and share their journeys. Additionally, the media must diversify its sources, ensuring a broad representation of women from various backgrounds and professions.


Do you have any thoughts on SheSkillz Global being a platform for mutual promotion between women and companies?

Camilla: SheSkillz Global’s platform, where companies like Flakk Group promote positions to women across Europe, is commendable. It allows women to explore opportunities and companies to showcase job roles. Furthermore, the platform’s anonymity feature benefits candidates, ensuring an unbiased evaluation of applications, irrespective of gender or background.


Thank you for sharing your insights and experiences.

Camilla: It’s been my pleasure. Thank you for this opportunity to discuss these important topics.

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