Rising Leaders: Women in Tech Leadership & Coffee Tasting

The 2021-2022 Rising Leaders and AmCham members gathered at Oslo Retail Association’s elegantly refurbished offices on Karl Johan.

Participants were joined by Ann-Kristin Nomerstad, Brand Manager of Starbucks Norway along with Starbucks’ own Coffee Masters for a private coffee tasting. Celebrating its 50-year anniversary this year, the international chain started selling roasted beans from a single location in Seattle in 1971 and has since become one of the most recognizable brands in the world. The Coffee Masters shared their best brewing tips and offered insights into both US and Norwegian coffee culture.

AmCham member Defigo, a property tech company, specializes in controls and keyless access for residential and commercial buildings. They made their official entry into the North American market in October 2021.

Defigo CEO Hildur Smaradottir, with a background in psychology and journalism, recounted the opportunities in her career that led her into the tech field. Hildur has since spent 15 years in various commercial roles in the tech industry. She also described challenges she has faced as a female leader in the industry.

Even though women constitute almost half of the workforce, they hold less than one third of the leadership positions in tech. Smaradottir stated that companies are missing out on a substantial opportunity as reports show that tech companies with a representation of female leaders have increased profitability, compared with companies with no female leaders (BCG). Although there is no ambition gap, Smaradottir mentioned that women being more critical of their own technical skills may lead to fewer applications from women for tech roles.

Ann-Kristin Nomerstad

Brand Manager for Starbucks Norway & Sweden

Hildur Smaradottir

CEO of Defigo

Charlotte Jørgensen

CSM at Defigo

To lead a team, trust is vital. In order to build trust you must be humble.

Hildur Smaradottir, Defigo

Charlotte Jørgensen, Customer Success Manager at Defigo, gave participants insight into her role and the impact of COVID on the workplace and supply chain. She also shared her hiring experience, joining the startup, and the transition from co-worker to leader within her team.

A majority of Rising Leaders participants work in or with technology, with females comprising approximately two thirds of the current cohort. The group discussed strategies to create greater gender diversity as well as sharing tips on hiring processes.

About the Rising Leaders Program

Rising Leaders, a joint AmCham-US Embassy initiative, brings together entrepreneurs, young professionals, and student leaders in an innovative program to promote diversity and connect promising talent. Through the program, participants engage international business leaders, learn about AmCham member companies, explore careers, and gain business and leadership skills.

The 2021-2022 Rising Leaders class – comprised of 18 women and 10 men between the ages of 22 and 35 – bring with them experience from healthcare, classical music, urban planning, organizational psychology, immigration, engineering, communications, technology, teaching, economics, finance, and marketing. All 28 program participants have demonstrated leadership, entrepreneurial, and/or business excellence in their educational pursuits and careers thus far.

For more information about the program, or to learn how your organization can get involved, please contact Madeleine Brekke.

Past Rising Leader Events