Women in Tech — Director of Strategy

Dec 4, 2023

An interview conducted by Bylgja Pálsdóttir, Senior Communications Manager

Welcome to the second instalment of our interview series where we focus on the strong female leadership we’re building and strengthening at atNorth. Here, we speak with Mardís Heimisdóttir, our Director of Strategy Implementation. 

Join us in this two-minute read as Mardís talks us through what she has learned on her career journey and how to achieve diversity and equality in the workplace. 

Mardís, we have been very excited to welcome you to the atNorth family and data center industry at large. 
Thanks Bylgja, it has been great to dive right into the deep end with atNorth – the team, the people here are truly fantastic and I’ve been so warmly welcomed. 

You’re nearly eight months into the job now — what are you most looking forward to in your first few years here at atNorth?
atNorth is going through a truly exciting and very rapid transformation, and I am thrilled to be a part of the journey towards sustainable IT. We meet the ever-increasing global need of digital transformation in a sustainable manner, and I am extremely passionate and motivated to be on this process alongside a fabulous team.

When you first began your career, it was slightly different to where you are now – talk us through your journey and how you’ve gotten to this point in your career.
My professional experience started after I finished my BSc in Business Administration at Reykjavik University. I moved to Stockholm and shortly thereafter, landed a role with Advent Software (now SS&C Advent) as an Office Manager. I quickly moved up the ranks to become an Executive Assistant for the EMEA leadership team. A little over a year later, I was offered the role of Chief of Staff in our New York Offices and later led strategic programs for the company. These have all been fantastic learning experiences that gave me a front row seat to critical organizational decisions and invaluable strategic insights into how to run a business. 

What has been one of the most memorable moments of your career to date??
I don’t think I could pinpoint just one moment; I have been fortunate to experience many memorable moments. Certainly, moving to New York was a wonderful opportunity and professionally speaking, a very big change in uprooting myself from the culture of the Swedish office to the new way of life in the Big Apple!

But secondary to this, when I look back at the years I spent working in the financial services businesses, I am most proud of myself for being daring, resilient and not afraid to take risks. I spent nine years with Advent, always actively seeking opportunities to progress. These were all magical moments. 

If you could fast forward five years, where do you think you’d find your future self?
Still here, at atNorth of course! I’m incredibly lucky to be working with the leading data center provider in the Nordics and my near future will be dedicated to supporting our continued growth. As part of that, I deeply value the experiences and growth that come from working with great people and I firmly believe that the synergy of a strong team can lead to unparalleled achievements.

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?
The biggest advice I have is to stand by yourself, know and be firm in what you believe in and don’t be afraid to speak up. This sounds cliché, but I believe the foundation of any success story is self-belief and trust in what you have to offer as an individual. Every one of us brings a unique perspective to the table, and that is invaluable.

What do you feel are the obstacles today that impact a woman’s ability to balance happiness, career motivation, and pushing through the senior-level glass ceiling?
I see a lot of progress with many organizations today in elevating female leadership. I have been fortunate to work for companies that appreciate and encourage diversity, transparency, and honesty, both with atNorth and previous companies. There is, of course, still work to be done. For instance, we must have great role models but also good spokespeople. It’s important to have women supporting women, but we need male advocates to build a strong bridge between the two so that we can approach gender equality from all angles. 

What are you most looking forward to in your journey with atNorth?
It’s definitely the continuous learning, adaptability and improvements needed to stay on top of the growth within the company. And no less, to continue to build a fantastic workplace with energetic and passionate people who believe in driving a more sustainable IT footprint. 

If you could describe in three words, what it’s like to work at atNorth, what would they be?
For me, it’d have to be dynamic, interesting, and flexible. I admire atNorth’s ability to face diverse challenges every day with open arms – we all work hard, but we have fun too, we see the huge potential our business has and we’re passionate about success. And lastly, flexibility is a necessity for our business – our world is changing at speed and as a business, we need to be agile and ready to scale to continue to support our customers in the right way.

If you could go back in time, what is the one thing you would change or do differently? With every year, I learn more and more to accept each mistake and use it as a learning opportunity, rather than dwell on what cannot be changed. I would have like to have learned this earlier on in my career – to appreciate that mistakes and failures are an integral part of discovery, growth & improvements. This is where managers can have a tremendous impact on people and truly shape how mistakes and failures are considered. 

If you were starring in a movie, who would play your character? 
Well, the character I would probably be is Monica from Friends! I have always related to her character – she’s extremely motivated, ambitious, and (usually) level-headed. She struck me as being a mature role model for the others, and being the loyal friend that everyone could turn to.

Read the first instalment in this series with our Marketing Director, Tracey Pewtner.

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