“The best idea might be deep in the organisation. The ability to realize that, and be open to it, is an important part of good leadership.”
"The best idea might be deep in the organisation. The ability to realize that, and be open to it, is an important part of good leadership."
When Professor Ragnhild Kvålshaugen got the opportunity to take a break from work and study full time for a Masters degree, there was no doubt what she wanted to do with her future.
"I am from Valdres, a district in southern Norway. I was the first generation in my family to pursue an academic career. I was lucky to have many terrific teachers in secondary school and did rather well under their guidance and encouragement."
Did you grow up in a family of academics?
Far from it. I am from Valdres, a distric in southern Norway. I was the first generation in my family to pursue an academic careere. I was lucky to have many terrific teachers in secondary school and did rather well under their guidance and encouragement. That was the key thing. I also had a great-uncle and great-aunt that instilled in me a belief that you should utilize your talents.
One should never underestimate good teachers.
No! And there were many at Fagernes videregående skole [now:
Valdres vidaregående skule].
Did you read a lot?
I guess so. And I always thought school was kind of fun. I followed the
news, read the papers and read political history.
When did you start focusing in on your chosen path?
I was studying political science at the University of Oslo, Blindern. This was in the mid-eighties, and political science was all the rage. The student/teacher ratio left a great deal to be desired. There simply wasn't enough guidance. Two friends of mine and I decided we had to look for something else to do, and one of them stumbled over the foundation programme in business administration at BI. I was hooked immediately.
You took your bachelor degree – and went straight to work?
I sort of felt like that was what I was supposed to do. I went to work at Bankakademiet, which used to be a school for finance and banking, that later merged with BI, where I was mentored by a great boss, Henri Werring. He saw what I could do, believed in me and gave me many opportunities. He made me want to become a teacher myself. I studied at BI while still working full time at Bankakademiet. When I got the opportunity to take a break from work and study full time for a Masters degree, there was no doubt in my mind what I wanted to do. Economics and business administration was my thing, and I wanted to specialize in strategy.
Again, you met a great teacher?
Yes, Professor Bente Løwendahl. She was dead set on me getting a PhD. I completed my Masters degree in 1994, and was getting ready to give birth to my second child. I thought: no way! I was raising a family, I had no time. But Bente was very persuasive and supportive and in the end I applied for a scholarship, and much to my surprise I got it.
You started studying at Copenhagen Business School?
Yes, until BI got it's own PhD program. Bente became my supervisor and I spent two years and ten months on my PhD dissertation. I was then offered at temporary position as Associate Professor at BI.
What was it about BI that made you want to stay here?
Well, Peter Lorange [former President at IMD, founder of Lorange Institute of Business Zurich, recipient of six honorary doctorates] worked here, for one! The field of strategy was somewhat new in Norway, it was not a well-established field of study here. BI became the focal point for it. There was a lot of interesting research going on, you felt you were a part of an international research community. Very exciting.