Women in enterprise: Trusting my expertise in a male-dominated industry | TopMBA.com

Women in enterprise: Trusting my expertise in a male-dominated industry

By Laura L

Updated Updated

“I’ve had to learn that my belief in myself and my capabilities is more important than other people’s efforts to quash me and is the only way I can succeed as a woman in the welding and construction world.” Kathrine Molvik spoke to TopMBA.  

To mark International Women’s Day – celebrated on 8 March every year – TopMBA is celebrating the accomplishments of entrepreneurial women using their business degrees to run successful start-ups.  

Kathrine Molvik, from Alver in Norway, studied on the Executive Master’s in Management at BI Norwegian Business School. She’s now the CEO and founder of welding and materials regulatory start-up, FeC.  

Kathrine spoke to TopMBA about what it’s like to have founded a company as a woman, the challenges she’s faced and how her business school experience is helping to grow a successful start-up.  

Tell us about your company FeC and what you do 

FeC is an expertise centre for welding and construction materials. It was founded to help the industry with regulations for production and as a guide for suitable materials. We do training courses for engineers, inspections and quality audits too.  

Welding and materials are a niche area to work in and I often compare it to a law firm when I explain what we do – lawyers help businesses with rules and regulations. They work together in their own company with colleagues with the same education who can help each other with questions related to rules and regulations. The customer will receive what they need to maintain control over what they do, and support if anything goes wrong.  

My company does much of the same, but within the welding industry and materials. Our customers range from high schools to oil and gas suppliers, construction, marine, shipyards, and research and development.  

How did your business degree give you the skills needed to be an effective leader in your industry? 

My management degree at BI Norwegian Business School has helped me get to know myself better and to trust my own decisions. I learned situation-based leadership and how some of the personal characteristics we might try to hide have their own value, and might be necessary for effective leadership, depending on the situation. 

I also learned a lot about how you can be easily manipulated by others with different agendas. I learned about the signals to look out for, why a person may approach you a certain way based on their agenda and how to cope with that.  

I was provided with the tools and resources to better understand others, how people might see me and how I respond to them. I think that is a really important thing to be aware of as a leader.  

What challenges have you faced as a woman in business and how have you overcome these?  

I have always worked in an industry that is dominated by men. When I was 15 years old, I was the first girl to be employed at a factory. I think I had to develop some ‘skills’ here to adjust to that environment, but I have had to deal with sexual harassment, leaders who see me as a threat, colleagues who do whatever they can to make sure I do not reach my goals, and I have had to show much more competence than my male colleagues.  

In meetings, people have assumed that I’m the secretary, where my role was department manager. I’ve had to learn that my belief in myself and my capabilities is more important than other people’s efforts to quash me and is the only way I can succeed as a woman in the welding and construction world. So, I had to let these things go. Instead, I use them to my advantage in different ways. 

I can sit in silence in a company meeting because others haven’t given me the space to input, but when I finally get to talk, everyone in the room can see that I have a lot of expertise in my subject, and they never pretend not to see me anymore. I have learned that if somebody acts this way, that is their restricted perspective and their problem, not mine. 

What advice would you have for other women looking to make change through enterprise? 

Just do it! It is better to have tried and failed than to never try. Whatever happens, you will learn something and that will make you grow.  

I have had a lot of struggles during my time as a female entrepreneur but looking back I am glad that I did it, because it has made me stronger and wiser and ready to take on new challenges. After I started my first company in 2014, I have now founded three more companies and I continue to grow. That could be you.  

This article was originally published in . It was last updated in

Want more content like this Register for free site membership to get regular updates and your own personal content feed.

Related Articles Last year

Most Shared Last year

Most Read Last year