7 Quick Questions – A Series for Norwegians in Switzerland
Interview with Guro A. Johnsen, Founder and CEO of SheSkillz Global, done by Berith Anne Høivaag Larsen, The Norwegian club, Switzerland. (Norgesklubben Sveits).
1. Who is Guro?
Guro is an eternal optimist, born and raised in the finest city of Norway, Stavanger. I moved to Oslo to study at the Norwegian School of Sport Sciences, worked with Olympiatoppen, and then further studies and jobs followed. I spent 19 years in Oslo and the last 18.5 years in Zurich. I’m not afraid to use my voice for change and to highlight the need for change, regardless of whether it makes me popular or not. I’m a bit impatient but thankfully hold myself to higher standards than those around me. When people say I work too much, I tell them it’s about relaxing the parts of the body we don’t use. I’m kind and perhaps a bit too naive, like most Norwegians. This was my biggest challenge when I came to Switzerland and an international work environment. I believed we were all there to make each other better. I see possibilities where others see problems, even on the last ski trips of winter when others see green, I see the remaining snow. I have the world’s best partner, Stefan, who said, “I’ll be waiting for you when you return.”
2. Why are you in Switzerland?
I came to Switzerland after negotiating a deal with the International Olympic Committee for a global career program for elite athletes. It was impossible to work on this global project with 25 project managers around the world from Norway, with a record of 35 hours of travel in a week. So, I was brought down to the company’s headquarters located in Zurich.
3. Could you tell our readers about your work?
I have two companies, so there’s plenty to do. Let me take this chance to talk about SheSkillz Global, a platform where women can promote themselves to companies and companies can promote themselves to female professionals. We also have a mentor program where executives from around the world volunteer to be mentors. We offer a toolbox with career advice and workrelatet tips. SheSkillz Global’s unique story is that the idea was conceived in a room with only men and me. Our goal is to contribute to our vision – a world where talent knows no gender. Based on the World Economic Forum’s report that predicts over 130 years until gender equality, we give professional women access to the platform first. I am using some of the experience of the Olympiatoppen Women’s Project for the Nagano and Sydney Olympics, it often all about showcasing competence and skills.
We develop and own all our software, allowing us to quickly adapt to companies’ desires for efficient processes and for candidates to regain control of their careers. There are no hidden agreements between a recruitment agency and potential employers, nor are there high recruitment fees. The platform matches both ways – a win-win for all parties involved.
4. What do you find to be the biggest difference between Switzerland and Norway?
The absence of the need to wait in queues, especially within healthcare (I believe Norway could learn a lot here), stronger rights for employers, and a healthier tax policy in Switzerland. Additionally, the Swiss are well-organized, and things are generally left undisturbed. A visit to a cinema restroom in Norway versus Switzerland shows the difference, or to a barbecue area where in Switzerland everything is ready to be lit and used. Gender equality is more advanced in Norway, but the Swiss are starting to make progress. Federal Councillor Viola Amherd, the Minister of Federal Department of Defence, Civil Protection and Sport DDPS, has expressed her goal to have 40% women in leadership positions in sports. So who knows, Switzerland might surpass Norway sooner than we expect. I also appreciate the Swiss education system, where not everyone needs to pursue University to succeed, here they have good processes with a mix of education and workexpereinces – there are many «many ways to Rome» philosophy.
5. What provokes you?
When, during a hiring process or when explaining the shortage of women, someone claims there are no women interested. Thankfully, we now have a place to direct them: www.sheskillzglobal.com
6. What will you be doing in ten years?
Hopefully, in ten years, I’ll be assisting other female entrepreneurs in achieving their goals, continuing to give talks, serving on some boards, and finishing a book I started many years ago. I’ll also spend a lot of time outdoors.
7. If you could change one thing in the world, what would it be and why?
I would ban plastic! It’s not healthy, on average, we “consume” plastic equivalent to a credit card size every month. Plastic pollutes the sea, water, oceans, and land, harming animals, humans, birds, and fish.