Asia aspirations: When embracing change makes for a fulfilling career move

Asia aspirations: When embracing change makes for a fulfilling career move

Ahead of International Women’s Day, three colleagues at Telenor Asia tell us how they left the comforts of home to take on new challenges many miles away and how this experience changed them.

Ine, Julie and Tone are living and breathing the Telenor culture of ‘always exploring’, through job rotations and stepping outside the comfort zone, which gave them opportunities to learn, change and test every day.

What would you tell those who want to be successful in their careers both at home and abroad?

Tone Skuterud, Senior Vice President Governance and Sustainability: Embrace change, be open and transparent on the strategic journey and key priorities, while consulting with stakeholders on a regular basis. Collaboration is key to success. The rapid changes we have to manage, require teamwork.

We could never have succeeded with the mega mergers in Thailand and Malaysia if we did not keep an open mind and find the best solutions together with the partners and the operating companies. We must consult each other, be transparent, actively listen, be clear on our key priorities and take feedback seriously. The Telenor Singapore team comprises 12 nationalities and even more across our companies in the region, so diverse viewpoints naturally occur, and I see them as invaluable. I learn a lot from different perspectives.

Ine Elisabeth Edvardsen, VP of Investment Management, Pakistan: Moving to Singapore during Covid and taking on a role in the newly established Asia Hub is my most fulfilling career choice so far. It has been incredibly rewarding to be part of putting Telenor Asia on the map with our successful structural moves and later, developing a new way of governance with our operating companies by being the investment management lead of Telenor Pakistan.

Cultivate resilience, a positive mindset, flexibility and self-awareness has been key for me. Staying curious and open-minded has helped me to adapt to new challenges.

Julie Isdahl, Vice President and Head of CEO Office: Working in Asia requires deep understanding of different cultures, practices and markets. The Telenor Asia office has become a strong unit with a team for the future, because they understand the nuances of working across different practices; that exposure and experience is essential for success.

As you step into your new roles, what will you take with you professionally and personally?
Tone: I have treasured the challenge of taking on new responsibilities, even if it is in a field where I am unfamiliar. I did just that in 2020, when I began work in Asia in a role different from my background. I also moved to Asia without my family. All of this was outside my comfort zone, but it has been amazing, with exposure to new cultures.

I am now ready to take on something new again, this time to lead transformation at Telenor Norway. Working for a company that provides opportunities to take on different roles, helps me grow, learn, and expand perspectives in both work and life.

Ine: I’ve been in Asia for almost four years and demanding roles have given me invaluable experience, which has made me grow personally and professionally. The work and life in Asia have exposed me to rapid changes. Here, I have adopted a positive mindset and can-do attitude to achieve my goals, which are learnings I will take with me into the new role. I will also take with me the confidence I have gained through empowerment. I have become a more seasoned resource as a result of my time in Asia.

Julie: I value the relationships I have cultivated, and the cross-cultural communications skills I have honed. These experiences have propelled me to take on bigger leadership roles and lead diverse teams, which has been very fulfilling. The connections and network I have made in Asia will also be very valuable when I get into my new role in Group Technology.   

Finally, what would you say to your younger selves from 20 years ago?
Tone: The younger me, always wanted to work abroad, graduate with an MBA, whilst still be a mum. Many events could have derailed my ambitions, but I forged on, trusting myself and my abilities. It has always been important for me to develop myself through learning new things – we should never stop learning. I want more people to be ambitious and trust themselves!

Ine: Well, I was 11 years old then, but was already game for exploration and new experiences. I would tell myself to trust my instincts and take risks and opportunities as they arise, because that’s how I grow and discover my true potential.

Julie: I would emphasise the importance of being curious and actively seek new opportunities. Be aware that each seemingly small decision you make daily, paves the path to your destination. Set yourself a clear goal for what you want to achieve in the long-term, and you will increase your chances of reaching that. If you are having a challenging time, keep in mind that this is part of shaping you as a person and will contribute to your personal growth. Devote time and energy into meaningful relationships, ensuring you are surrounded by people who support and embrace your true self, enabling you to unlock your fullest potential..