Meet Mari Ellestad
Which team are you from and when did you graduate?
Team 2 Kaospilots Norway 2009
What have you been doing since you graduated as a Kaospilot?
I started working right out of the Kaospilots as a result of my internship project. Since then I have been fortunate enough to have had the opportunity to work in exciting roles in different companies.
Primarily, I have been working with organizational learning and development both in-house and as a consultant. The last few years I have concentrated on supporting and developing leaders on all levels, individually and in teams. I have worked closely with management teams to implement strategies and shape the culture to better handle complexity, change and ensure continuous learning.
As of June this year I left consulting to take on a new and exciting role in Diplom-Is, as Strategy and communications Director.
Since graduating, I have also completed a 4-year program to become a DNCF Certified Executive Coach, and I am currently pursuing an Executive MBA in Strategic Management at Norwegian School of Economics.
What is important for you in your job?
Diplom-Is is one of the most recognized FMCG-brands in Norway, making and selling high quality ice cream. My job is to ensure we understand the market dynamics and act accordingly. I do not have all the answers, so it is important for me to get to know the people and the different experience and roles in our organization. Especially since I am new to the company. Further it is important that we build interdisciplinary networks, that people talk and work together, and that we as leaders know how and when to push the right buttons. I also love working in a highly qualified team, making me stretch further every day.
What major learnings would you point out from your experience that have shaped you as a leader?
Early in my career I was coaching people that for different reasons had fallen out of ordinary work life. Some had major struggles in their life. To be allowed into these individuals’ life really changed how I see people. And I believe it has made me a better leader and person.
On the lighter note, as a person who likes to get the job done, keeping a cool head is sometimes key: If there is a problem, wait two days and see if the problem is still there.
What is your biggest source for inspiration right now?
Kristin Skogen Lund, Lise Davidsen and my husband. Lund as a great businesswomen and leader, Davidsen for her outstanding voice and her truly inspiring story, and my husband because he is one of the smartest, hard-working, and kind people I know.
What would be an example of a learning or an experience from your time at Kaospilot that has been important to you?
Where to start!? Trusting my ideas, challenging the common knowns, being curious about different opinions and perspectives. Building teams, lead and let lead, and that the most amazing things are possible if you put some effort into it.
What is a piece of advice that you would like to give future Kaospilot graduates?
Take the time to really understand the economics of business early on.
… and when opportunity arises, jump!
Foto: Benjamin Skouge Martin Korn