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Spotlight Series: Marianne Styrman, Chief Operations Officer, Celerway

Marianne Styrman

ARTICLE SUMMARY

Meet Marianne Styrman, COO at Celerway Communications, a true leader in the tech industry! With expertise in strategy, management, and governance, she's made impactful contributions to tech startups and corporations. Discover her journey, valuable insights, and advice for women aspiring to excel in tech careers.

Marianne Styrman is known for her expertise, specialising in Strategy, Management, and board governance within the tech industry.

She has held leadership positions in both startups and large corporations, including her current role as Chief Operating Officer at Celerway Communications.  Marianne has been instrumental in driving excellence and has held pivotal roles and influential positions throughout her career, serving as CEO at Last Mile Solutions, Director of IoT Solutions at Webstep ASA, and Director of Marketing for the Wireless portfolio at Texas Instruments for 11 years. Additionally, Marianne is also a board member of highly esteemed global companies such as Camfil and Radiocraft.

How did you land your current role? Was it planned?

No, not at all! By chance, I had the opportunity to connect with the Celerway CFO – Jakob Gravdal. After conversations with board members, I was convinced that Celerway was at a phase where I could be fully aligned whilst adhering to my professional aspirations.

What are the key roles in your field of work, and why did you choose your current expertise? 

The key roles that stand out for me are those of strategy, management, and scaling, used as pillars upon which any organisation’s success and growth can depend.

As for my career, it has been shaped by a combination of my interests, experiences, and a willingness to embrace opportunities. I have always pursued roles that resonated with my skills and aspirations. These important roles have crafted my professional identity, guiding my career to meaningful and impactful contributions within the industry.

Did you (or do you) have a role model in tech or business in general?

I didn’t have a role model per se, but my macroeconomics teacher taught me a lot in school about strategy and how markets worked. He taught us that the future wealth of Norway lay in uncovering new streams of products and services for exportation, igniting my passion for working in exports and, consequently, technology.

What are you most proud of in your career, so far? 

One of my proudest moments and significant milestones achieved, whilst staying true to my core values, was making the difficult decision to step down from my then-demanding role with the support of my colleagues and company to a position that suited my work-life balance.

This choice deeply impacted my professional journey, both in terms of my personal growth and my approach to work.

My decision revolved around a pivotal life choice that I made for my family, and over three years, I managedmy work and family commitments with the backing of my fantastic employer. By staying true to my values and priorities, I achieved a more harmonious work-life balance and gained a profound sense of fulfilment and a renewed sense of purpose in my career.

I learned invaluable lessons about resilience, adaptability, and the importance of maintaining a solid personal foundation.

The lessons I learned during my hiatus served as a sturdy foundation upon which I built my career once more. 

With this, I decided to step back into the arena at a senior level, and instead of fear and trepidation, my newfound strength armed with clarity and a firm sense of purpose, I returned!

This experience has reinforced my belief in the importance of authenticity and the recognition that personal growth and career successes are deeply intertwined facets of a fulfilled professional life. This period revealed that I had nothing to lose career-wise by embracing my family commitments wholeheartedly.

What does an average workday look like for you? 

I have a well-structured routine that revolves around efficiency and balance. Bright and early, I arrive at the office, dedicating my mornings to tasks that require deep focus and concentration. Post-lunch is when I schedule meetings and collaborative work. I cherish family time, so I head home in the late afternoon for quality moments and dinner.

Evenings are for reflection, where I ponder the day’s challenges and prepare mentally and meticulously plan my upcoming day, setting objectives and prioritising tasks.

In a nutshell, my day blends planning, productivity, family, and personal growth, harmonising work and life seamlessly.

Are there any specific skills or traits that you notice companies look for when you’re searching for roles in your field? 

Companies often prioritise the trait of adaptiveness due to the high rate of change in my field. Resilience is also valued, as it is crucial to view the journey as a marathon and not a sprint.

Has anyone ever tried to stop you from learning and developing in your professional life, or have you found the tech sector supportive? 

I’ve always found the tech sector to be largely supportive of me and my ambitions. Of course, there are always challenges; within tech, I have often been the lone female voice in the office and certainly the only female representative at the board level. With that comes extra pressure. I have felt like I have had to prepare myself twice as hard when delivering a presentation or speak twice as loud to have my voice heard. But this has made me the woman I am today: more resilient, hard-working, and measured. 

With half of the world’s talent being female, only a quarter of women hold jobs in tech. This has to change.

I want to encourage more women into the tech industry.

Women have a different skill set that isn’t being utilised to its full potential, and because of my position, I feel that it is my duty to make technology more appealing to women.

Have you ever faced insecurities and anxieties during your career, and how did you overcome them?

Absolutely! Insecurities are a part of everyday life in my career. My survival strategy involves seeking help and fostering collaboration to make informed decisions, approaching anxieties with positive energy, and turning them into opportunities. I’ve developed a habit of creating “expected, worst, and best-case” scenarios for various situations, ensuring I’m well-prepared. This preparation boosts my confidence and helps me navigate insecurities with a calmer outlook.

Entering the world of work can be daunting. Do you have any words of advice for anyone feeling overwhelmed? 

Yes. “No pain, no gain!” Embrace the challenges of the uphill climb, seek support, trust and believe in yourself, and don’t give up – go for it with determination!

What advice would you give other women wanting to reach their career goals in technology?

You must grab the bull by the horns. Let go of fear and act like you have nothing to lose – because you don’t. 

The moment that you feel claustrophobic, and the room starts to close in on you, move on.

You will always have something to offer that others don’t. Trust yourself.

I also encourage the idea of seeking a mentor. While I personally didn’t have one, I have witnessed the substantial positive impact mentorship can have on one’s career trajectory. It can provide invaluable guidance and support in your professional journey.

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