Strong, goal-reaching and optimistic women have always inspired me. I have always been fascinated by women, who lead fruitful personal lives and manage to be strong leaders at the same time. ”Luck is an attitude”, heard it from a friend of mine the other day and Theresa Blegvad, CEO of Insights Denmark and Sweden, agrees with me: ”You just have to find what inspires you and follow your passion”, says she.
Nowadays, in a 21 century, more opportunities are available for us and that is the reason why expectations raise as well. Women are expected to be both caring mothers and competitive businesswomen. I had an opportunity to talk to Theresa Blegvad, a CEO, wife and a mother of 3. ”I am an entrepreneur, a loving wife and a mother of 3 girls”, introduces herself Theresa, 40, who is a CEO of an international organisation. ”I started working in international organisation since I was 18 years old. I wanted to try different things and I liked the environment I was working in, it was very international”, she shares. ”At one point in my life I made a career change and followed my passion. Now I am ”sitting on my dream”, she says with a big smile, which only supports her thought.
A lot of people know you as an optimistic, always smiling personality, who is ready to help. But how would you describe yourself for the ones do not know you?
I am an entrepreneur, I love being around people. I like to develop myself and help others to develop. I like to observe the process on how other people are improving. That is the reason why I have always supported volunteering and the idea behind it; I usually volunteer in a number organisations and support others in doing the same. As for example, I usually am part of 5-6 boards where I give my opinion, besides, I usually meet young entrepreneurs with whom I share my experience and help them improve. Other people, I believe, would describe me as being pretty outgoing and having a strong will. If I am passionate about something, I will go for it. If I have an idea or a goal that is worth going for, I will only get a success out of it. Of course I have to consider time since I don’t have time to realize all of my ideas, so time is my enemy.
Nowadays, people usually do not care about spirituality due to the lack of time or simply lack of faith. What is your opinion about it?
I would call myself a spiritual person. I believe we are a part of system. If I could use a religion for it, I would probably be a buddhist. I strongly believe in ”what goes around comes around”. Or, to examplain my thought – what you put in, you get back. So people should take care about what they put in themselves and others…
Young people usually have hard time realizing what is it, what they want to do for their lives. What was your choice after you graduated and how did it influence your further decisions?
I started working since I was 18. I got a job in an international organization where I was selling vegetable fat. It was a company here in Aarhus, where I ended up working for many years in a row. I did enjoy my work and I, as well as my colleagues, could see my development. Besides, my own role was very innovative and competitive.
Straightly to the point – how did it happen that you decided to change your career and started working for Insights?
To be honest, while I was working in my previous job, it happened that I got my 3 girls in 14 months and I quit. In my spare time I used to be involved in a number of organizations and did a lot of social activities. After having children I decided that now, finally, it’s time to go for what I am really passionate about: people development, HR. I chose to be self-employed 11 years ago. I have to thank for my relatives and especially my husband who allowed me to be a businesswoman at the same time when my children were very young. Back then, I wanted to try something new and follow my dream. So in fact I chose so because of my girls, I thought I need to make a career change and go for my real passion.
What were the hardships you faced when you started?
Probably the networking. It was challenging because I had to develop the business even though back then the company didn’t have as many clients and I had a hard job to make it run. It was also hard to see myself in a CEO role. Now we have much more clients so ofc I managed it, it’s been pretty good. I have been doing it with the team, so it is a team effort.
A lot of people think that when kids are small, they should take a less important job. I don’t agree, you have to go for your passion but have to manage your job and family so that none would suffer. You have to prioritize your tasks and know how to prioritize. Eventually one day your children will live their own lives, so if you don’t focus on your job you will eventually lose your passion.
How did you establish and develop such a strong network, that leaded to success?
I am a person who values networking and relationships. It goes easy for me. I just love to be around people that can bring ideas to the next level. For example, I have just met a young woman who makes sustainable bags out of old tents. It was so refreshing to meet someone with a great initiative, in such situations I feel obliged give my knowledge to the next generation. I like to be around different people who can brainstorm and come with innovative solutions. Plus I think that everyone should realize the value of networking. The more people you know, the more people you can rely on. The more people you can rely on, the better the result is.
What kind of boss are you?
I definitely am the one with a lot of inspiration. Visionary. I like to have visions, dreams and I have a good intuition. One thing that I really do not like is negative people. It’s fine to have frustrating discussions or conflicts but if people tend to continuesly try to force negative atmosfere, I get frustrated.
Is ”doing what you love to do” a formula of being happy?
Yes, without a doubt. I also think that everybody in Insights should stay only if they love what they do. Of course, there sometimes are periods when you have to be there for your team and help others instead of just doing what you like, but when you do what you love to do – and then it’s easy to keep yourself motivated. And also, coming back to spirituality, what is essential in our lives? It’s love and passion. So a lot of people are driven into jobs because they have to earn money yet they don’t enjoy what they do. It’s important to follow your heart.
It is also the reason why I do a lot of volunteer work, then it is easy to see other people doing what they love to do, and I like to support them and share my experience.
Such a busy woman like you probably doesn’t have time for any hobbies at all…
Quite the contrary! My hobby is spending my time with my family and friends. It actually takes a lot of my time. I have also recently started playing golf again; I used to play golf when I was a student, since I was selling golf equipment in Aarhus. It’s great to go back to it again and improve the techniques I used to know. Sometimes it also feels great just to go to a silent corner and read. Last year I turned 40, and I promised to myself that within next 10 years I will try to re-establish connections my old friends, so from now I have about 2 activities a week where I meet my old friends during my free time.
What does a person like you value most?
Authenticy, honesty and passion as well as being around people that inspire me. And enthusiasm, which is linked to passion…