Amrop Interviews Pauline Lindwall - Winner of Women's Board Awards

Pauline Lindwall, Board Director and winner of Women’s Board Award 2020 reflects on attributes being an efficient Board Member, the importance of professional recruitment processes and how the support of family and managers has helped her to stay courageous throughout her career.

With operative roles in Europe and Asia for large corporates such as Nestlé and Mondelez and ongoing Board Assignments in Germany and Sweden, Pauline truly has an international track record. She currently lives with her husband outside Zürich and divides her time across alternating roles as a senior advisor at EY and Board Assignments for McKesson, Swedish Match and Duni. Pauline describes her career journey as a collection of skill sets that fits well in her current roles. She has always had a curiosity for learning new things and taking on new challenges. She also stresses the importance of courage if you want to succeed.

“You must have the courage to take on new challenges but then you also have to be surrounded and supported by friends, families, colleagues and of course your manager. This support has been crucial throughout my career and I try to give the same support to those I work with. I have always been very proud to see my team develop and succeed. It feels like this way of leading is becoming more relevant today because of the times we are in and everything that is happening in our world. This is an important role for the Board too, in addition of being a control function, the Board should support the CEO and the management team by providing a long-term direction that the company is able to comply with.”

Are the expectations on the support from the Board similar irrespective of country?

“No because there are differences between countries for how Boards are legally organised. Mainly there are two different corporate structures, dual and a two-tier system. In Sweden we have a “hybrid” between the dual and the two-tier system which in fact works really well.”

What is your experience of working in different countries and cultures? 

I believe it is important to have cultural understanding and sensitivity to be a valuable Board Member. International experience is not only about understanding the commercial part of the business or the knowledge about different markets and customers, but also about working in environments that are different from your own. How do you ensure that you are authentic and credible in your leadership and at the same time show respect for your team when you are in a different culture than you are used to? 

Are there any other traits that you think are important for a Board Member?

“I think you need two types of competencies or experiences in your toolbox. First, you need to have a broad financial understanding of how a company works. Secondly, an expertise from a special category, for example digitalization. However, the most important aspect is to have a genuine interest in the company´s industry to ensure that you add value.”

Looking at the Board Assignments you have today, this seems to have been a successful strategy. How did you react when you received the Women’s Board Award 2020 for your achievements?

“I was incredibly proud and happy, and I felt honoured to be one out of three in this incredibly competent collection of women who had accomplished so much. That my family, also was a part of the audience when I received the award meant a lot for me. I have never experienced anything like this before.”

With yet another achievement under your belt, what are your plans for the future? 

“The award has really expanded my network. Now I am eager to take on some new Board Assignments, and I have also expressed my interest in taking on the role as Chairman when the time is right. I am also very excited about the Board Course, ‘Digital Transformation of Boards’, that was part of winning the award, since this is a relevant topic that we often discuss during our board meetings. I look forward to share the learnings with my boards.”  

Before we let you go, could you please give us some food for thought for our future Board Recruitments and Board Advisory? 

“I believe that we need more diversity both in terms of men &women and age & experiences. A lot of studies show that diversity not only generates a more exciting and better work environment but also improved business results. 

I also want to stress the importance of an open and honest environment and the need of frequently evaluating the quality of the Board. You need a feedback-culture where the Chairman plays an important role of keeping the group together, listening and enable everyone to contribute. 

And then the whole recruitment process. It should be done as carefully as you do it at Amrop; control references, conduct a proper analysis of the Board’s needs and make sure that it is a professional search from start to finish.”