Photo: Anders Bach
19-12-19 DI Business News

Targeted effort to get more women into leadership is working at Grundfos

A mentorship scheme anchored in Grundfos’s group management has been a vital tool to get more women to the top of the global pump manufacturer. Meet a mentee who has moved up a level - and her mentor.

Targeted effort to get more women into leadership is working at Grundfos

A mentorship scheme anchored in Grundfos’s group management has been a vital tool to get more women to the top of the global pump manufacturer. Meet a mentee who has moved up a level - and her mentor.

“Of course I’ve heard comments about having to be a women in order to become manager now. But that’s not true. No woman wants to be selected for a managerial position just because she’s a woman, and besides, the gender distribution in Grundfos’s management speaks for itself. Before the mentorship programme, it was five to one,” explains Gitte Kirkeby Søe. Two years ago, she was working as brand director at Grundfos and was asked whether she wanted to be a mentee in the pump company’s newly established mentorship programme, which is intended to get more women into leadership positions by the end of 2020.

And one year ago, she was promoted to Senior Brand Director - after five years working at her previous managerial level.

“I’ve moved up the career ladder at Grundfos slowly. I’ve also had two kids in the meantime. One time I did feel overlooked, while other times it was more a feeling of being a minority as a woman among the many male managers – even though I do work well with men,” she says.

The final push to dare

Grundfos’s mentorship programme was set up in 2018 by the members of the all-male group management, each of whom would now serve as mentor to a female manager.

Women can sometimes - not always, but sometimes - feel uncertain as to whether their ideas are as valid as men’s if men constitute the majority in a company Grundfos’s industry group vice president Anupam Bhargava

Gitte Kirkeby Søe was selected to participate in the mentorship programme.

Today she is the head of branding at Grundfos - across the entire pump company and globally, from logo, customer service and pump design to brand campaigns focusing on water and climate.

She is responsible for 19 employees and a budget in the two-digit millions.

Grundfos’s senior brand director was paired up with Grundfos’s industry group vice president, Anupam Bhargava, as her mentor. Originally from India and previously employed in the US, he was new to Bjerringbro.

“He thought I had some good ideas, and he also had some very concrete advice as to how I could take them further. What’s more, I was glad to have a mentor who isn’t Danish, because I think diversity is important,” she says.

The two have met on a regular basis over the past year and a half. Among other things, Anupam Bhargava advised Gitte Kirkeby Søe to work with networks - and to request meetings with some of the senior managers in Grundfos to present her suggestions.

“Before, I was probably a bit more cautious. As a mentor, Anupam served as a catalyst who gave me the final push to finally do something about the ideas I had,” says Gitte Kirkeby Søe.

Because it makes perfect sense

Anupam Bhargava nods in agreement.

“Women can sometimes - not always, but sometimes - feel uncertain as to whether their ideas are as valid as men’s if men constitute the majority in a company,” says Grundfos’s industry group vice president (GVP).

As a member of Grundfos’s group management, Anupam Bhargava became a mentor when the pump manufacturer launched its initiative to get more women into leadership. And a very enthusiastic one, at that.

”Because it makes perfect sense,” as the senior manager with the American professional background says. Both for the company and for himself.

“A mentor can ensure that more good ideas are heard. Not just the ones the company is used to hearing, but a wider range of ideas - also from the minority, which women constitute at many companies. They gain the courage to step forward. In order to run a successful business, it is absolutely crucial that we reflect our partners and the world we operate in,” he says.

Anupam Bhargava also explains that the mentorship with Gitte Kirkeby Søe has given him great pleasure and insight.

“I’ve benefitted at least just as much from our conversations as Gitte has. She has some really great ideas, and her many years of experience with branding and marketing in general and here at Grundfos specifically have been an incredible eye-opener.”

Management suits parenthood

Gitte Kirkeby Søe becomes slightly pensive at the question of whether the mentorship's one-on-one conversations and feedback are to thank for her most recent step up the career ladder.

“I’ve definitely become a bit more brave. But maybe senior managers have also agreed to meet with me and hear my ideas because they knew I had been selected for the programme. Maybe that was the implicit stamp of approval. It’s hard to say,” says Grundfos’s senior brand director.

Meanwhile, she wants to strike a blow for more female role models within the pump manufacturer.

“I really want to show others, especially young female employees that yes, you can be both a manager and a parent. In fact, the higher up in the hierarchy you get, the more flexibility and autonomy you have,” says Gitte Kirkeby Søe.

Do it!

Both she and Grundfos’s GVP would recommend that everyone say yes if they are offered the chance to serve as a mentor.

“I would definitely say yes. There are so few female leaders, and I know how hard it can be to move up the ranks, so I would be very prepared to help,” says Gitte Kirkeby Søe.

“I think that being so close to another person and seeing them develop makes me a better manager. Even though one’s schedule is packed as a senior manager, I can hardly recommend it enough,” says Anupam Bhargava.

GRUNDFOS'S TARGETS

More women in leadership 2018 – 2020:

Top 30 leadership:

Target: 15 pct. women

– Start 0 pct., now 6 pct.

All managers:

Target: 25 pct. women

– Start 20 pct., now 23 pct.

Graduates:

Target: 50 pct.

– Start 12 pct., now 47 pct.

Stay up to date

Receive DI Business News – our weekly newsletter in English with relevant business news, political analyses, key indicators and invitations to events, courses and business-related networks.

Sign up

Mette Fjord Sørensen

  • Direct +45 3377 3797
  • Mobile +45 5213 2312
  • E-mail mfj@di.dk

Related