By Annicken Rød
The year was 2002 and I was very close to landing my dream-job. The title was “Chief Cultural Officer”, the company was Tandberg, and my job-description would be “to take care of the corporate soul”. At that time, Tandberg was a small fish in a big pond with only 300 employees worldwide and an 8% global market share. I was in total awe of the incredibly enthusiastic and ambitious people I met, their positive and passionate energy and the fact that they saw no other option than becoming world-leader within the video-conferencing market within the next 5-7 years (Which in fact actually happened!)
The day I had my last interview, I met with the chairman of Tandberg. I had just came from another meeting where I had signed the divorce papers from the man I had been married to for the last 10 years and the father of my 4 year old daughter. Knowing the ambitions of the team and the global nature of the role, I knew I had to do the only right thing and let the chairman know about my personal situation and that I wouldn´t be able to travel as much as probably required. I figured it was better that they turned me down then than being unhappy with me afterwards. When I told the chairman that it would be difficult for me to travel for long periods of time, he just looked at me blankly and said “I don´t understand the problem” and pointed towards his desktop video (it was a Tandberg 1000). “This is how you will be travelling from now on” he said and smiled. I left the building with a job-offer and a video-unit under my arm and that was the start of my new life. And may I add; a pretty fabulous one!
For 8 years I travelled around the world on daily basis, without ever having to leave my office or my home, unless I chose to. I was working with people in every continent, interviewing candidates, coaching leaders, attending meetings, running leadership programs and, when we had grown to 1700 people, leading a global HR organization with 8 people in 5 locations. Knowing and experiencing the tremendous positive impact access to video had in my life – and to my relationship with people around the world – we made sure that every Tandberg-employee was video-enabled. We called it “The video way of life” – and man, was that a fun one! We worked and played, solved challenges and celebrated while staying connected across the globe. Thanks to the wonders of face-to-face technology we were able to build a truly global and very passionate culture where people jumped out of bed in the morning, ready to change the world together!
All this time I was a single mum, living in the countryside outside Oslo, and the chairman was right; that never was a problem. I could have my morning coffee in Tokyo, lunch in Paris, afternoon tea in London and pre-dinner drinks with my colleagues in the US – and still make it home in time for dinner with my daughter.
Having had this experience – well, there is no going back. When I started my own company Corporate Spring last year, with team-members located in Oslo, London and Dubai, making sure everyone were video-enabled was kind of given. In fact, when I moved from Oslo to London this summer, the only “furniture” I bothered to bring along was my EX90. I just can´t imagine life without it.
A few months from now, I will recruit some new colleagues into Corporate Spring. I expect they will ask me about the challenge of being based in different locations. I´ll just reply “I don´t understand the problem”, give them a video-unit (and a Videxio account) and then; let the video way of life continue!
Annicken Rød has been passionately engaged in developing corporate cultures for the last 15 years. In her eight years as the Chief Cultural Officer for the iconic video-conferencing company TANDBERG, Annicken was incremental in building a world-class organization recognized by its passion and energy, competence and innovation. Her favorite expression Culture eats strategy for breakfast, refers to TANDBERGs ability to lead through inspiring visions, values and attitudes instead of extensive plans, systems and control. When TANDBERG was acquired by Cisco in 2010, Annicken continued on her mission by establishing United Tribes of Cisco, a way to bring passionate start-up energy into large organizations and she trained 1000 + Cisco employees in the power of culture. In 2012 Annicken established Corporate Spring, a movement and a company with the mission to create passionate cultures that create wonders. She is a frequent key-note speaker, workshop-facilitator and executive advisor. Before entering the video-conference industry Annicken was holding a diversity of roles in the travel industry and she has a degree in Organizational Development and Human Resources Management from Stockholm University. Annicken Rød lives today in London with her 16 year old daughter Matilde.