Text: Ruth Astrid L. Sæter
Foto: Nora Savosnick
The morning sun lights up the streets of Prospect Heights, Brooklyn. Ingvild is on her way to work, in the city she moved to 12 years ago. Here in New York, Ingvild planned to spend five months as an intern in UN Global Compact, where she wrote her master thesis about anti-corruption.
- UN Global Compact was one of the smallest organizations in the UN when I started. It was established in 2000 as a special project under the Secretary General´s office. When I started back in 2009, there were 20 employees, says Ingvild.
UN Global Compact is the UN´s organization for sustainable business, growing rapidly over the past few years: Today they have members in 12500 businesses located in over 160 nations, making it the world´s largest initiative for sustainable business.
The headquarter is located in the place which eventually became Ingvild´s home. She arrived in New York with a bachelor’s degree in International Management from BI, and a master’s degree in Advanced Management Practice from Bath, UK. Having just finished an internship at Procter & Gamble-owned Wella, she was seemingly destined for a corporate career.
A new approach – for UN
However, Ingvild and UN Global Compact turned out to be a perfect match. In her role as Senior Manager for Strategic Development, she has spent the last five years helping businesses all over the world turn sustainability challenges into concrete business opportunities.
- To acknowledge the role of businesses in the great social web was a new approach for the UN when this project started, says Ingvild on her way to the office she has been renting for the last year, after their headquarters was shut down due to the pandemic.
- Initially, that approach was not widely accepted. Today we have about 100 employees at the office in New York, and close to 70 business networks spread across the world. It has become a completely different organization.
While most of us think of the environment whenever someone says “sustainability”, Ingvild emphasizes that the term encompasses much more than that.
- The 17 sustainable development goals illustrate what challenges we are facing, from eradicating poverty to fighting inequality and to combat climate change by 2030. To me, it is crucial that companies can relate to sustainability as an integrated part of management, and not just as an isolated project.
- How did you experience coming to New York as a 24-year-old and working at the UN?
- It was definitely exciting. I came in with a background in business, which was not common. But this also meant that I could get involved in many of the projects from the start. It was anything but glamorous, we worked all day long on short contracts. In many ways, it felt like a startup. I did not get a permanent position until 2021.