Bodil Norwood – Taking the helm of my career

The winds can be rough, but Bodil Norwood is not letting that stop her from making her mark in the male-dominated tech sector


Working from home takes on a different meaning if you live on a boat. When my children flew the coop two years ago, I finally made my dream a reality, selling our home and living on a boat full-time with my husband.

I’ve been in Singapore for over 13 years but I’ve also worked in my home country Norway, Sweden and New Zealand before that. One of the highlights of my career journey was when I created my own education tech startup with a friend back when I was 25 in Sweden.

I joined the Bank in January 2021 where my role is to transform our IT operating model from being product-focused to that of a service organisation. At a macro level, it entails bringing technology teams together to deliver holistic, end-to-end solutions to our clients instead of needing to reach out to multiple parties for individual requests.

What I really like about Standard Chartered is the number of skilled and smart people that I get to engage and collaborate with. There is a real sense of togetherness and a drive for positive change that is refreshing.

Of course, not everything is rosy – there’s plenty of challenges like bureaucracy and inefficient processes that need to be overcome. But on the plus side, there are lots of opportunities for us to make improvements and deliver value within the Bank.

To be honest, being a woman in tech can be like sailing against the wind.

From my experience in male-dominated industries, it’s perceived that women need to perform better and work harder than male counterparts to be considered equal. I have seen many talented women leave companies because their male colleagues get away with less effort but are given more recognition.

My take on this is to focus on ensuring that my work has a noticeable and positive impact to the company, and ignoring comments that reflect double standards (such as being called ‘bossy’ when women are assertive, while men are seen as showing strong leadership).

In my role as a manager, I make sure that female voices in my team are also being heard, especially the quieter ones. I’ve realised that women in tech tend to be more introverted, so I push them forward to present to the leadership team. Sure, they may be terrified to speak up but they do an amazing job in the end. They feel really proud of themselves afterwards and gain more confidence. As a manager, it’s not just about hiring talent but to grow them as well.

There are many lessons in life that I can take away from my passion in sailing.

On a sailboat, when there are strong winds, you have to make decisions and be accountable for it. This is the same at work – I will never shy away from that. The decisions may be right or wrong, but I take ownership of it instead of blaming others.

When sailing, you don’t have control over the wind strength or direction, but you can navigate the environment to the best of your ability. I have to do my best with what I have. Similarly in a large organisation, there are many factors beyond my control. Focus on what you can change instead of being frustrated by what you can’t.

Perhaps one day I can build up my relatively-new team to such a high-performing level that they can be self-sufficient – that’s when I can achieve my personal goal of sailing around the world.

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