My two loves: Corporate & Entrepreneurship
Louise Vang Edwards, JA Denmark Alumna
My name is Louise and I love corporate. Phew I said it.
On the surface there’s obviously nothing wrong with this statement, but seeing as I credit most of my professional successes to an entrepreneurship program and an amazing entrepreneurship network it took me a while to be comfortable with the fact that starting my own company is not my ultimate dream.
Instead I dream of discussing and making difficult decisions, leading and motivating a team and wearing high-powered business suits (I blame Ally McBeal for that one). It boils down to wanting to be a great leader, and honestly I don’t care whether that’s in a start-up or a large multinational.
To me that is what is great about JA Europe and JA Alumni Europe, because with them there’s room for different profiles – instead what all JA alumni share is a deep appreciation of what it means to take action, take ownership and make things happen.
Something I first learned through the JA Company Program in Denmark when I was 17. At this time it was incredible to discover that my friends and I could start a real company just by being willing to develop our ideas, pick up the phone and go for it (who would have thought?!). To me this was the ultimate lesson in self-efficacy, namely the belief that you are in the driving seat of your own life.
Last week I had the pleasure of taking part in the European Business Summit, representing JA, here commissioners and business people alike praised the European youth for our skills in practical subjects such as engineering, but scolded us for our lack of confidence and ability to dream big. To me programs like the ones offered by JA have the power to fix this.
When my program finished I was hungry for more so I joined the newly founded alumni network and went to an international alumni conference in Vilnius in 2004. This changed everything. The like-minded inspiring young people I met became the role models I emulated and the friends that made me believe in raising my personal standards. So for better and worse I don’t think the commissionaire was referring to the JA alumni when calling for more young people to believe they can make a difference.
Having myself ended up in corporate – for now at least - I’m happy to report that learning how to be entrepreneurial is very well received in my business. In Siemens there’s a big push right now to promote an ownership culture with an entrepreneurial mindset in the heart of it, so to me there is now really no contradiction in loving both entrepreneurship and big business.