Europe, Interviews

Kine Dahl – Nordic Head of Organisational Development at Elkjøp and Board Member at Oda – Women in Tech Network

Commit top management in setting targets for gender balance in companies (if needed), both in tech and in leading positions!

Kine Dahl based in Oslo, Norway is the Nordic Head of Organisational Developement at Elkjøp and member of the board at Oda – Women in Tech Network. In her master in education she specialized in knowledge management and organisational learning. Kine is mother of two kids (9 and 12 years) and a dog.

In a Nutshell: Tell us a bit about your job and what role technology plays in it?

I just entered a new position as Nordic Head of Organizational Development and Learning in Elkjøp. The biggest retailer in home electronics in the Nordics, with 10 000 employees, owned by Dixons Carphone.

I just love the Elkjøp vision: ” We help everyone enjoy amazing technology”.

Which is exactly what we are trying to achieve by being excellent customer advisors digitally and in store.

My curiosity for tech started in 1986 when I got an Amstrad 464 CPC for Christmas. I have been working in tech environments my entire career, and tech definitely plays a large role at Elkjøp. In helping everyone enjoy amazing technology, of course. But also, in fighting the digital exclusion as a key element in our sustainability strategy. That gives me true purpose. 

Where did your professional journey start and how did you get to where you are now?

My career started in Visma (the largest software company in Norway) after finishing my master’s in education (pedagogy). I began developing digital training courses, getting into the world of LMS and learning production tools. I wanted to expand my scope and applied for a job as an Organizational Development Advisory in the Norwegian Police ICT Services. The Norwegian Police force was an exciting place to be regarding culture, but also due to the extensive trust based leadership practice we were exposed to. During these years I grew a lot both personally and professionally. I worked closely with the CEO and top management, driving the strategy process, creating core values, and running leadership development programs.

A cold day in February 2011 a recruiter called me regarding a position as Head of Competency in the IT department of a Norwegian health trust, Sykehuspartner. Two days before I accepted the position, I found out I was pregnant. Not a perfect timing, but my new employer took it amazingly well, onboarding me with a growing belly.

Returning to work from maternity leave (we are lucky to have 10 months fully paid in Norway), we started off building a structured training academy, from onboarding of new employees, to technical topics and project tooling. During that period, I acquired a deeper understanding of customer centricity, tech and business. After a couple of years, I was offered a new position as Head of Organisational Development. With this new role I had to change focus from mainly delivering projects and facilitating processes to leading others, serving and sparring.

While the first years at Sykehuspartner was dedicated to building structure, culture and competency, the last period was rather different. As part of the tech strategy, Sykehuspartner started the process of looking into outsourcing parts of the operations. As this moved from ideas to decision, we started the hard work on getting the engineers and leaders to accept WHY, and join in on HOW to make the change. It was amazing after 6 months to witness the engineers and the leaders move from being openly negative to outsourcing, towards becoming ready for change. This was one of the proudest moments in my career. Not because of the outsourcing itself, but for making the change happen.

In january 2018 I got a phone call from a recruiter who introduced me to DNB, the largest bank in Norway. DNB was about to embark on a transformation journey, moving from a traditional hierarchical, rather bureaucratic bank, to working more like an agile tech company. This triggered my curious mind. So I accepted the position as a subject matter expert (SME) on change management, contributing in driving this transformation. 

After being onboarded at DNB, we faced a reorganization. This meant that the transformation program was put on hold for a while. As always paying attention to the possibilities, I got familiar with DNBs Technology Strategy and discovered the ambition of increasing the share of female engineers. I asked my leader if anyone were on it, or if I could conduct research on what we were doing currently and what we could do going forward. I got the permission to run this initiative, and had the best experience ever looking into what we could do both to attract and retain female tech talents.

DNB had already conducted a few great initiatives on equality and diversity, promoting leadership talents from both genders, setting targets on gender balance with 40% female leaders on top four levels of leadership, to mention some. In addition to that we got insight on how to work more structured with diversity and inclusion. The female techies already onboard wanted to be a part of a female tech network (often being a single woman in a male dominated team). This led to DNB becoming a strategic partner of ODA – the largest female network in the Nordics with over 10 000 members.

During this period, I was fortunate to meet so many talented, inspiring & smart people across DNB and other organizations working with Diversity and Inclusion. I learned about prejudice, my unconscious biases and implicit biases in social structures and technical solutions. I also got to know some enthusiastic and visionary people working voluntarily for ODA Network, who brought me onboard this great organization with the vision: “Lead the change”. ODA’s main goals are 40% female leaders in top management and 40% females in tech by 2025.

So, the rather narrow track of attracting more females into tech in DNB, brought me on to a larger journey.

What is the greatest transformation in technology you’ve witnessed in your career?

In addition to the mobile phone revolution and technology’s role in everyday life. I think the greatest transformation is the vast increased reach of information and knowledge sharing. We have seen it during the pandemic, the Black Lives Matters and Metoo. I am also amazed by my kids aged 8 and 11 maneuvering tech so easy, picking up so much knowledge being digital native.

When you think about ‘women’ and ‘technology’ what comes to your mind first?

Engage. Explore. Be curious. Take ownership and be a part of building tech solutions for the future.

We always hear there are not enough women working in Tech. In your opinion, how do we change that, and which steps should we take to achieve gender equality in tech?

  • Engage girls at an early stage about the possibilities in tech. Let them take part in finding solutions with tech that inspires them to explore. I.e. Girl tech fest.
  • Actively work with getting girls into coding and tech studies. I.e. Make the courses more attractive to females (naming, content and so on.)
  • Highlight female tech role models
  • Engage female tech students to be visible role models, to share their interest in tech
  • Commit top management in setting targets for gender balance in companies (if needed), both in tech and in leading positions
  • Work specifically on attracting female tech talents
  • Make female role models visible both inhouse and externally
  • Structure the succession planning, compulsory to identify candidates of both genders
  • Nudge the female potentials to take leadership positions

Which was the best decision in your career?

Taking my master’s in Pedagogy. Always being open to new possibilities and have the guts to take on new challenges.

If you could go back in time, what advice would you give your 14-year-old self?

You are a smart girl that can be whatever you want! Be bold and believe in yourself.

Kine Dahl based in Oslo, Norway is the Nordic Head of Organisational Developement at Elkjop and member of the board at Oda – Women in Tech Network. In her master in education she specialized in knowledge management and organisational learning. Kine is mother of two kids (9 and 12 years) and a dog.

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