For the fifth year in a row, Abelia and ODA-Nettverk have handed out their awards to Norway’s 50 leading tech women. The goal is to increase the proportion of women who work with technology, both in the private and public sector, by highlighting the talents we already have and inspiring others to choose technology. In previous years, Visma’s Berit Braut and Liza Collin were also selected.
“Through her passion for mentoring young female talents, she has also for several years acted as a role model which has benefited them in developing themselves and their careers.”Christian Westlye Larsen, CTO in Visma
– Visma and its employees continue to benefit enormously from Therese’s sharp and strategic mind, leadership skills, and ability to execute which, combined with a positive, service-minded attitude, make her an outstanding colleague. She has made large contributions to our AI and automation offerings, and through her management of Visma’s competence centres, she helped create amazing places to work in the countries in which we operate. Through her passion for mentoring young female talents, she has also for several years acted as a role model which has benefited them in developing themselves and their careers. We are very proud of Therese and her achievements, Christian Westlye Larsen, CTO in Visma, says.
Interview with Therese Sletten
Why are you enthusiastic about working with tech?
– I’m enthusiastic about the ever-changing nature of the industry and that technology is the driving force behind most of today’s innovations. It has been interesting to see how much the industry has changed since I first started.
Seeing how technologies like optimisation and process automation make a difference for society is inspiring. For example Visma’s route planner for home nurses; by optimising the driving routes to patients, nurses can spend more time together with the patients.
Have you always been interested in technology and in pursuing a career in this industry?
– I always knew that I wanted to work with something within tech. Since high school, I’ve been interested in both technology and business, which made the decision of higher education rather difficult. I ended up taking a Master of Science in Strategy and Business Administration at the Norwegian School of Economics (NHH).
When ending my studies I wanted to work in a company where I could combine my background in finance with my interest in tech. Visma’s Management Trainee program was therefore an obvious choice for me.
I have since then had different positions in Visma, both at a company, division and group level over the past 13 years. The changing nature of the company and industry has created a lot of new interesting opportunities for me.
What have female role models meant to you over the course of your career?
– Role models are important to provide guidance, motivation and inspiration. Entering my first position at Visma in my twenties it was inspiring to see female role models in higher positions. These leaders have encouraged me to take on new challenges and pushed me out of my comfort zone. Today I am proud to lead talented leaders across 9 countries.
Why do you believe it’s important that especially tech companies have a diverse and inclusive workforce?
– Innovations and new technologies are changing the world and the daily lives of each and every one of us. To succeed with tech innovations it’s important to understand today’s challenges to develop innovative solutions for the future.
By focusing on diversity in our teams I believe we create better solutions, which are more suited to the diverse market we serve. Diversity is not just about gender, it’s important with diversity in aspects including age, ethnicity, background and so on.
Can you tell us about your current role and responsibilities in Visma?
– I’m responsible for three areas in Visma: Visma Competence centres, Optimization Technology and Intelligent Process Automation.
Visma Competence centres are an important part of Visma’s strategy to attract talent, increase business value, and succeed with innovation. Visma has today close to 1 800 employees working across 9 locations in Visma Competence centres and we grow by approximately 200 new talents each year. My responsibility is to make sure we have world-class Competence centres with the right location strategy to meet future needs.
I’m also leading two AI teams: Optimization Technology and Process Automation. In Optimization Technology, we solve complex challenges using mathematical formulation methods.
We work closely with Visma companies and our customers to find complex and time-consuming tasks where we can apply Optimization technology. Today, we have solutions for kindergarten allocation, timetabling for schools, route planning, and workforce management in the market.
Intelligent Process Automation focuses on removing manual and repetitive tasks both within Visma and for our customers. We have also established automation training programs for Visma employees.
What does a typical workday look like for you?
– Leading leaders and employees across 10 countries make every workday interesting and different. Before the pandemic, I used to travel around Europe three days a week, but now we collaborate using online meetings instead.
My typical workday starts by getting out of bed at 7 am and eating a small breakfast before starting with meetings around 8 am. During the day I interact with co-workers across all countries discussing projects, solving challenges, or creating new strategies for AI and the Competence centres. I like to finish off the day meeting friends, going to the gym or getting some fresh air.
How do you make sure that you recruit a diversity of people in your teams?
– Visma Competence centres consist of 1 800 skilled employees across 9 countries. We have several activities to attract new employees and support diversity. Latvia is one of the Competence centres that has been attracting employees from all over the world. Today they have employees from 17 countries.
To attract the best talent for the future we have several good initiatives including the “Back to School” initiative where Visma employees visit their old schools to inspire young girls and boys to start studying Technology.
In Lithuania, we have recently launched Angis—a programming learning platform for children, developed by our employees. We hope this initiative will inspire more girls and boys to become programmers.
In our AI teams, we already have employees across 5 countries with a good mix of gender. In all recruitment processes, we choose the best candidate for the position.
Finally, what advice would you give to others who are interested in a career in tech?
– It is important that you are willing to learn and adapt quickly to a changing environment. Being humble, but having the ability to challenge is an important trait at the beginning of the career.
It’s also important to learn to see situations from different perspectives. You also don’t need any educational background in IT to pursue a career in tech. We need employees with all backgrounds with an interest in tech.