Interview with Kristin Engvig by Lisa R. Tucci
Kristin Engvig is a social entrepreneur who began her leadership journey after founding W.I.N. in 1998 in Milan, Italy. Kristin embodies her belief that “Women have a vital role to play. They embody the power to influence, decide, lead and be an agent of change. Women lead with grace while being true to themselves, restructuring organizations into caring environments, making conscious decisions for long term results, handling communication with empathy, and in every way ensuring that lives and careers blossom worldwide.”
Kristin Engvig is a woman who leads by example. It’s not the huge success of her brainchild, W.I.N. Women’s International Networking Conference, it’s not her Global Forum where women exchange ideas, business cards and mission statements, it’s not Kristin’s globetrotting to keep everyone apprised of what’s new — Kristin takes the lead by showing us it can be done and then hosting 700+ women from 70 different cultures, corporate and otherwise, all the while making it look easy.
Kristin is a visionary social entrepreneur who has devoted the past decade to promoting positive, feminine, authentic values in leadership, corporate culture and entrepreneurship. By pursuing her own vision, what started as a dream at a kitchen table has grown into a global phenomenon.
Kristin was able to take her vision, articulate it in a way in which others would come on board, (from top sponsors and speakers to volunteers), and develop processes and spirit to see that vision come to fruition. I have known Kristin since she graduated from Business School in the early ‘90s — she was all business suits and powerpoint presentations; not to mention the epitome of the Norwegian stereotype.
Little by little, as she set out to start W.I.N., she also strived for something more in her work environment. She sought a more creative spark; to let her heart sing, so to speak. And we both joined an acting group. Ever thirsty for new creative outlets, Kristin has never abandoned the acting (as I have), despite moving to Switzerland and having a child, and has since set out around the world looking for ways for people to bring more creativity into their working lives. At her own W.I.N. Conference, she devotes a day to personal growth, and each plenary session starts with exceptional live music. She does this, to create an esprit du corps, and, to appeal to both sides of the brain – and lighting the powerpointers’ creative fire.
Many of her staff started with her at the very beginning, and, as a delegate since that first early conference, I can confidently state that you would never find them burnt out, nor off-mission. Kristin’s leadership style and I believe, ability to delegate, brings out the very best in people. Her staff sees to it that things run smoothly behind the scenes, so she can continue setting an example on stage.
Another part of her success is her reliance on an outstanding Board of Advisors who, being the women they are, are always on hand to offer input, solicited or not! They come from all over the world, each with a unique perspective; but even more incredibly, each as dedicated to the W.I.N. vision as Kristin herself.
This past September marked the 10th Anniversary for W.I.N. It’s theme, Taking the Next Step–Fearlessly, Gracefully and Together – boasts all of the hallmarks of visionaries and leaders. The importance of exchanging ideas, teamwork and diversity were everywhere. Remarked one delegate, “The openness, the collaboration and the peace experienced among so many people from different cultures, countries, professions, and age groups gives hope. Let’s internalize this feeling and make it the leitmotiv for everything we do.”
Ten years on, Kristin’s commitment to providing women with their very own Networking Forum has certainly come of age: W.I.N. is a global phenomenon, with over 80 member associations, an impressive list of major corporate sponsors, business school support and media partners.
The list of inspirational speakers is so outstanding, it’s embarrassing: from Cherie Booth (prominent barrister, diplomat, mother of 5 and wife of Tony Blair), to explorer Liv Arneson, the first woman to ski solo to the South Pole, to Gertrude Mongelia, President of the Pan-African Parliament, to Margherita Agnelli (mother of 8), head of a micro-credit Corporation, to panels including Iraqi women professionals, India’s Minister of Culture and the Lebanese-born journalist for Reuters who was nearly killed while reporting from the Palestine Hotel, Baghdad.
Today, women’s business and career issues focus not only on women, but on all of humanity and the ways in which authentic leadership can ensure a sustainable future. With women like Kristin at the helm, one knows that it will be a bright one.
W.I.N. will be taking place this year in Barcelona, Spain, from the 18th-20th September Learn more at www.winconference.net