- 07.03.2024

Spotlighting five inspiring voices on #IWD24

March 8th marks International Women’s Day, a global celebration honouring the accomplishments and contributions of women throughout history. At the same time, it serves as a reminder of the ongoing challenges and barriers women are still facing, and the importance of creating a more inclusive and equitable world for all.

Join us on this significant occasion as we spotlight five inspiring women across different positions at Pernod Ricard Nordic, and focus on their unique journeys and achievements.

From left to right: Louise Ryan, Renata Kostigovaite, Eva Georgiado, Pooja Gulati and Eliis Rooma

Louise, you joined us as CEO for Pernod Ricard Nordic 6 months ago with a vast experience from different roles, functions, and industries. What is your recipe for a successful career? 

I’ve been working for almost 28 years now, and during that time my definition of a “successful career” has changed quite a bit!  In the early stages, I was extremely focused on my personal progress – climbing the ladder and progressing to more senior positions.  My priorities changed however when I became a Mum. A “successful career” at that life-stage, was having a job I enjoyed which still allowed me to spend time with my girls.  Now that my girls are a bit older, I’m able to focus more of my energy on my career again and my definition of “success” is far less about myself, and far more about what we’re accomplishing as a team. 

“I think the starting point for any successful career is knowing what success looks like for you personally at any given life-stage, setting clear goals which are aligned with this and being flexible and perseverant when it comes to achieving these – success is seldom a straight line!”

What key principles or strategies have guided your career?

Some of the key principles or strategies which have helped me along the way include (1) Love what you do – We all spend a lot of time at work and life is far too short to spend a significant proportion of it doing something that you don’t enjoy. (2) Treat every day as a school day – In the fast-paced world we live in today, skills can become obsolete very quickly so I’m very conscious of the need for continuous learning in order to keep my skills up to date and stay relevant. (3) Work hard –

“I do believe that nothing worthwhile ever comes easily and that if you really want something, you’re more likely to achieve it if you’re prepared to work hard.”

A commonly held perception is that successful career paths need to be linear. What is your perspective on this?

By taking a non-linear approach to my career (which included a career break for a couple of years, to be a full-time stay at home Mum, when my girls were very young), working in many different functions and countries, working for large multinational companies, entrepreneurial start-ups and freelancing, I’ve been able to develop a diverse set of skills and experiences that have really helped me.  I would have no hesitation in recommending this “non-linear” approach to career management and development to others!

Eliis, you’re a great example of a successful non-linear career path, having completely switched careers after previously studying to become a translator. What inspired you to pursue a new career path?

Switching to sales was pure luck at first. During my studies at university, I was fortunate enough to come across a part-time merchandising job. At first, it was a perfect fit to do something between lectures, but as the time went on and I got the chance to see firsthand how a sales representative works, I realised more and more that this is something for me. In a sense, all the puzzle pieces fitted together – it combined my passion for numbers and language supported by my earlier education. After getting my degree, I immediately applied for a sales representative job full-time. Finally, I had the full confidence, that I had found something that I’m passionate about, where I am able to grow career-wise and personally.

How did you navigate the transition? What challenges did you encounter and how did you overcome them?

The first challenge was that I needed the courage to completely switch from my previously chosen path. The change itself was scary, but having great friends cheering me on, made me believe that I can achieve anything. The second challenge was being a very introverted person, so I had a huge personal growth ahead of me, as being in sales involves a lot of face-to-face interaction to deliver the best results. When I first started, it would cause me a lot of anxiety. I decided to play on my strengths as a good listener, my ability to learn quickly and my passion to be better at my job with every passing day. I managed to create good professional relationships and from there I managed to overcome my anxiety.

Eva, you’ve successfully moved within our organisation several times, switching between functions (HR, Controlling and Finance) as well as between our market and brand companies. How has this helped you grow both personally and professionally?

Taking on something unknown is very motivating for me. Beyond giving me new learnings, knowledge and experiences, it has made me more bold and less fearful of “failure”. What one may perceive as “failure” is actually not reaching predetermined expected outcome. But every such occasion is a learning and growth.

“One main insight is to always be humble towards others. You can never truly know the complexity someone faces in their work, or in their personal life for that matter, if you haven’t performed it yourself. So regardless if it’s in my personal or professional life, that insight is the same.”

Can you give an example of how your experience in one function positively influenced your performance in another?

I could give many examples but let’s pick one from my current role. Although my position is within finance, the Internal Control & Efficiency manager is a centralized position within PR Nordic, meaning I’m expected to support all functions across all seven affiliates. When reviewing a process within e.g. HR, it’s of course a great benefit having worked at HR and potentially with that process. I understand the faced challenges in being compliant and instead of simply stating that a process may not be compliant with group guidelines, I can try by using previous experiences to provide an efficient solution. 

Pooja and Renata, you both joined Pernod Ricard more recently. What are your first impressions of our organisation, especially when it comes to equality, diversity and inclusion?

Pooja: My first impression is that the organisation and people are really welcoming. When it comes to equality, diversity and inclusion- I am amazed to see how balanced the organisation is where people are from every corner of the world. In my previous experiences working in finance departments, it was always male dominated but at Pernod Ricard I feel that it is more equalized and balanced.

Renata: “Pernod Ricard has pleasantly impressed me with its incredible environment that has united diverse professionals by offering them conviviality and promoting equality.”

The confluence of these factors makes the corporate image of Pernod Ricard unique and fosters collaboration within the company. It inspires and encourages proactivity in the workplace. I am convinced that it is a key to success.

Pooja, you’re originally from India but have been living in Norway for a few years now. What cultural differences or challenges have you encountered working in a new country, and how did you navigate them?

Coming from a different part of the world there were many cultural differences and challenges I faced in the beginning. But when I started to adapt and immerse in the culture of the country I am living in, it felt like I was in the best country, where the quality-of-life index is amongst the top 10 of the world’s ranking.

Renata, you joined us in Lithuania after having fled the war in the Ukraine. How has the transition been for you coming to a new country and workplace under such difficult circumstances?

Despite all the circumstances I feel unbelievably lucky. More importantly, I am so grateful to have been offered this chance to pursue my career, and both my professional and personal growth. From the very beginning, my colleagues offered me their support and mentorship. This gives me faith and confidence that against all odds, and challenges, this milestone brings not only upheavals but also opportunities.

How do you maintain a sense of connection to your home country while embracing your new life in your current country?

Pooja: I along with my family are privileged to experience 2 different types of culture where year around we celebrate all the festivals from 2 different corners of the world- one from the home country and another from the European country

Renata: There is no need to maintain it as it is always in my heart. I am driven by the love for my country. Ukraine is fighting for its independence and equality, and my second homeland –  Lithuania –  has given me an opportunity to support my country in this fight.

To finish off, if you could give one advice to women and minority groups on advancing their dream career, what would it be?

Eva: Believe in yourself! Being in a minority group, it is easier said than done. But we all have strengths and areas of improvement!

“Nourish your strengths and be honest and open about the parts you want to develop”

Renata: Hellen Keller once wrote: “When one door of happiness closes, another opens; but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one which has been opened for us”. No matter what, never stop believing in yourself and keep pursuing your dream.

Pooja: Do not take gender as an obstacle in your career journey, the opportunities are in abundance in front of you and there is no end to the learnings. Just trust yourself and never look back.

Eliis: To the people still finding their dream career – it is okay to be unsure of what you want to do and to take time to figure it out. It is easy to be your biggest obstacle, doing something simply because what you think is expected of you. It is much harder, but so much more rewarding, to follow your dream career.

“But the great thing is you can learn pretty much everything if you are passionate about it. You are your biggest asset and capable of so much more than you can imagine.”