Executive MBA

Making a difference for patients

Many executives find it difficult to transition into a new career. After international success, Trude Tingvoll moved to a new senior position while achieving her Executive MBA.

She grew up in the small town of Sortland, known for its blue houses, surrounded by the breathtaking Norwegian nature of Vesterålen. From a young age she observed and learned the secrets behind running the family’s concrete business: Effective prioritising and hard work.

Still, her future did not lie in her family’s company. However, holding a position on the firm’s board had sparked a desire for more knowledge about leadership and business. After college at BI, she decided to make a career in the global pharmaceutical industry ‒ targeting severe diseases with the aim to make a difference for critically ill patients. Tingvoll finds it personally rewarding to see how the industry changes the lives of patients.

Early in her career, she quickly made the move from sales to product manager before, over a seven-year period, working from London and Brussels, all the way to an American drug company’s European office.

Initially, the industry giant Pfizer headhunted her and she shortly moved from Oslo to a new executive position in London, where she was tasked with developing and implementing a new Brand Management process as part of setting up the company’s new European headquarter.

‒ My work has always been to lead interdisciplinary teams. It is as rewarding as it is challenging, because of all the competent people working together. You enter a big network of new people with new perspectives, Tingvoll explains.

From Singapore to Silicon Valley

Eventually, she was offered an exciting executive position in Oslo’s biotech industry, but her management responsibilities remained global.

‒ After seven years in London and Brussels, I made a personal values decision and asked myself: How exactly do I wish to live and work?

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You would think she had enough on her plate with the new job, but the Norwegian was eager to develop further and learn more. This led to her decision to return to BI, her former school, to do an Executive MBA, which she combined with her daily managerial tasks.

‒ Luckily, I thrive with high workloads in a fast-paced environment. I have had an intrinsic drive for these things ever since I grew up. The world’s development is moving at high speed. You have to think fresh every single day, otherwise you put yourself in a very vulnerable position.

At BI, the modules are taught at different elite universities around the world, depending on what specialisation you choose. In Tingvoll’s case, she got to travel to IE Business School in Madrid and Nanyang Business School in Singapore, as well as modules at Berkeley and in Silicon Valley.

‒ When you study abroad, the involvement with other cultures certainly put things in perspective. It was particularly interesting comparing the Scandinavian leadership model to similar philosophies in Asia, and specifically China, which we got a lot of insight on in Singapore. It was also very educative to develop a product idea, and in turn pitch this in the innovation- and entrepreneurship module I did in Silicon Valley.

Solving complex problems faster

After completing her Executive MBA, she was offered the role as Chief Business Officer at the MedTech start-up Respinor AS. One of her responsibilities is leading the company’s global launch of a breakthrough technology within respiratory care, which has already been awarded the EU commission’s Horizon 2020 prize twice.

‒ In a medical start-up environment, with limited resources, we are depending on each individual team member to deliver ‒ and as a leader, I have to use all the skills I learned from the EMBA to perform every single day.

In her field, with rigorous testing, experimenting and lean operating, she works to ensure a patient and customer focus while trying to merge business and commercialisation with the development of new technologies. In order to be successful in this business, she must rely on her experience and network in the industry. According to Tingvoll, the EMBA helps her in both respects.

‒ The more experience you get, the more humble you become in relation to the complexities of various fields of work. I believe the executive education from BI has given me, as a leader, the tools I need to make better strategic decisions, as well as my ability to solve complex problems faster.