Exactly ten years ago, at the beginning of Summer 2010, I had one of the worst crisis of my life and made one of my best decisions ever.

I was feeling quite “down”. I had just been repatriated after my last expat assignment. It had been a very tough period, but I had loved every minute of it. I had learnt a lot, travelled a lot, created new markets, developed organisations, negotiated deals with multinational enterprises, African farmers and ministers of state; then we got a new CEO, strategies and scopes got changed and I was sent home to do “something else”. That something else turned out to be great on paper and nothing much in reality. I was bored. I missed the action and the steep learning curve of tough challenges.

That summer of 2010 saw me reconsider what I wanted to do next. I had reached a high level in the hierarchy, holding one of the “100 key positions” in the company (I was one of only 5 women who were part of that elite), but it was time for me to do something else.

I had always had a dream of setting up my own company. I had this idea – from my serial expat adventures – that beauty comes from facing and understanding diversities. I wanted to transform it into leadership training. But I felt that I needed to mark my change with a new round of training for me. I wanted to invest in myself to support my professional transformation. It was the best decision I could ever make.

I had already trained with the best executive business schools throughout my entire career, thanks to my generous employers (Procter & Gamble and Norsk Hydro). Now I wanted to select training programs that could mark the transition from management to entrepreneur and consultant. Best choice ever. I studied coaching and got certified. I quit my job at the end of 2010; January 1, 2011 marked the start of the new Grooa AS adventure!

While establishing the company I continued to study: attended lengthy courses and retreats in Canada, UK and Spain, to learn how to facilitate teams, how to lead from the stage, how to market events and workshops; followed Applied Neuroscience Studies and earned another diploma; got certified in Leadership Assessments. It was expensive and demanding, but also exciting and deeply satisfying. And I started to appreciate the value of taking exams, of completing and achieving and earning a certificate; not so much for adding to a CV, but mainly for the excitement and the confidence boost that makes you feel alive; for the energy you gain from the awareness that you are humble enough to continue to learn and strong enough to continue to achieve learning goals.

I recently asked my Board if they thought it was OK for me to enrol in yet another course at MIT Sloan, quite expensive and we are in a recession, is it wise? It did not take a second for them to answer: your training? best decision ever for the business, go on, continue!

So it got me to think: in these uncertain times many clients and friends ask me for advise on how to prepare for the next career discussion when jobs change or disappear too fast. My best advice is to invest in your own awareness and additional competences.

It got me to think: we always offer Certificates of Attendance after major retreats and online courses, issued by the Grooa Leadership Academy, but without any exams.We have also been offering some free / pro-bono coaching and training in these month, as our contribution to support people during uncertain times. But even for shorter and free training, how about also offering the elation that comes from setting learning goals, achieve them and know that you have not just “taken a course” but also passed an exam and felt rejuvenated and alive?

So now we have set up to design exams for our courses, as a way to help our clients verify and test their learning. Even for the free and pro-bono courses, why not? Not mandatory exams, but an additional opportunity for those who feel the same as me about the pride and confidence that comes from testing yourself.

Check the first one here below: Leading Effective Virtual Meetings with balanced EQ – IQ skills


Managing Partner
Grooa AS