Interview conducted by Bylgja Pálsdóttir — Senior Communications Manager
At atNorth, we continue to strengthen our team to support our customers and partners across key markets. Most recently, we have made some exciting new hires that not only aim to drive our business forward, but that also illustrate our commitment to a balanced workforce.
atNorth has always supported diversity and inclusivity, we know this is positive to the whole of our organization and critical to the success of our business. That is why we are excited to add Tracey Pewtner, Marketing Director; Mardís Heimisdóttir, Director of Strategy Implementation; and Elisabet Árnadóttir, Director of Security and Compliance, to our team.
It has been stated that teams led by women often tend to perform better, with increasing research from business schools, consultants and analysts backing this up. Widely speaking, women often foster a more inclusive company culture, which can increase productivity, boost employee satisfaction, and create a happier workplace.
In this three-part interview series, I’m excited to share some of the many insights from these amazing women. We start with our marketing guru, Tracey.
Tracey, you came on board a few months ago now – it has been wonderful to welcome you to the marketing team!
It has been a total whirlwind since joining atNorth, but I have felt so at home since the start and feel extremely lucky to become a part of this fabulous team and amazing company.
When you first began your career, did you envision being where you are now?
No, I was one of those people who left school and didn’t know what I wanted to do. I thought I’d become an air hostess, but my first job was working as a Computer Operator, responsible for running backups twice daily. This was back in the 80s when computers were the size of an entire desk and their data had to be backed up on huge magazine tapes housed in noisy computer rooms.
What I find fascinating though is how full circle I’ve come from this first job in data management to now working in the data center industry where data is housed in a much more streamlined, smaller and lighter way.
What has been one of the most memorable moments of your career to date?
Whilst living in Cape Town I worked as a Marketing Manager for a golf course developer. I once worked on an article that was published in a golf magazine in the US. As luck would have it, a Nasa astronaut on the International Space Station and keen golfer I must add, read the article. Later, when up in space, he flew over the golf course and took a picture and sent it to me! That picture and its story was published in a national newspaper and then picked up by several international golf magazines in the US and UK. In todays’ terms – it went viral! It’s amazing how marketing can change a single moment in time. We later invited him to come to the course to play, once he was back on earth!
If you could fast forward ten years, where do you think you’d find your future self?
Easiest question yet – retired with a house in the sunshine! I’d also like to learn a new language, probably Italian – we love Italy and go every year.
What advice could you give to the strong female force we have here at atNorth, and beyond, to all the women looking to become successful business leaders?
This is a good question – I don’t think I’ve ever thought of leadership as one person in charge. We are all in this together. I’m excited to have the opportunity to lead a small team at atNorth, but that excitement comes from the opportunity to work together on great projects that will yield great successes.
For me, it’s about collaboration and not being afraid to voice your opinion. As women, we need to have the strength to stand our ground and be heard, don’t be afraid of what the consequence may be. As Eleanor Roosevelt once said, which I point out to my teenage daughter time and again; “No one has the right to make you feel bad without your permission.”
In your opinion, what are the driving factors in our current socio-economic landscape that impact a woman’s ability to balance happiness, career motivation, and pushing through the senior-level glass ceiling?
I’ve been fortunate to work for Nordic companies who have this innate ability to balance their work life happiness. Compared with some of my friends working for UK companies, my work life is completely different. I have been extremely fortunate to work for amazing companies with amazing leadership. A wise man once told me “If you’re not having fun at work, management are doing something wrong.” How right he was.
As a whole, particularly in the UK, I strongly feel that a lot of our issues start with school. Our education system is not fit for purpose. We are not teaching our children what they need to know for the future. We continue to follow this process of GCSE’s and A levels, which in my view is standard schooling that doesn’t teach creativity, inclusiveness, technology or bring awareness to the climate crisis in a way that sets our future generations up to tackle these changes and challenges.
Similarly to above, what do you think is the most significant barrier to female leadership today in both business in general and our industry specifically?
We could all work within this industry, but the perception is as such because it’s heavily male dominated. We need to teach our children that they can be and do anything they want to do, but also let’s teach them about things like sustainability, technology and digitalization, data centers and what goes on within them – kids today don’t even know what goes on behind the scenes of their phones!
Every child should be learning about their digital footprint. Let’s start with showing them, educating them so they can go forward and make a big impact.
Is there any one lesson you have learned throughout your career that is unique to being a successful female leader?
It doesn’t matter what career or industry you’re in, you have to treat people as you want to be treated yourself. Always put yourself forward and don’t be afraid. It comes back to what we were saying earlier on in the conversation, say what you think and be heard.
What are you most looking forward to in your first year at atNorth?
atNorth are on an incredible transformation. The excitement of being on this journey, seeing where the company started from and is today, versus where we are going to be in two to three years’ time, and more so being able to influence elements of this journey to help the business reach its mission and vision – that’s what I’m looking forward to. Along with the excitement of a few awards, building the brand and creating a buzz about who we are and where we are going. It’s gonna be a busy year!
If you could describe in three words, what it’s like to work at atNorth, what would they be?
atNorth has a strong, diverse workforce and like many Nordic headquartered companies, they empower all their staff to be the best version of themselves. Flexibility is a key attribute, as is trust. Every one of us is part of this amazing journey and we each have a part to play. It can be hectic, but I love the energy that comes from knowing you part of the big picture. So, my three words would be energetic, flexible, and dependable.
If you could go back in time, what is the one thing you would change or do differently?
I wouldn’t have changed anything, and ironically feel that I’d still be right here talking to you Bylgja, it would just have been via a different path.
I’m a firm believer in fate and that everything happens for a reason. We are where we are meant to be.
If you were starring in a movie, who would play your character?
I have the humour of Diane Keaton, but if I had a hand in anyone who was going to play me it’d have to be Julia Roberts. I love her and all her films. She’s funny, she’s sassy, she’s played amazing characters and she is so versatile.