Future Leader Experience : Circl Q&A with Anita Fernqvist

Rhianna Prewett
August 20, 2021

Our wonderful intern Rhianna Prewett has shared her key takeaways from one of our Circl Q&A sessions where Future Leaders hear from professionals about their career journeys:

Circl’s core mission is to build a world in which anyone regardless of their background can “learn to lead.” One of the ways Circl is fulfilling its mission is through facilitating Q&A sessions regularly. The purpose of these Q&A’s is to provide real-life examples of strong leadership for Future Leaders, in the hopes that we can learn and grow from them.  After attending the excellent Q&A, featuring the highly successful Anita Fernqvist, I feel that my journey in learning to lead has developed further. 

Anita is the Chief Data Officer and Operations Director at Zurich, a Swiss insurance company. During the Q&A, she discussed the skills and mindset she has adopted during her incredible career journey. Additionally, she also spoke about how she has balanced motherhood with a busy career. Her advice was refreshing and reassuring, showing Future Leaders like me, that success is achievable with the right mindset and the right amount of effort.

What stood out to me the most about Anita’s Q&A was her reflections on failure, and why maintaining resilience in the face of challenges is an avenue to success. I feel that this was a great topic to touch upon considering how many Future Leaders gain their ambition and drive from overcoming adversity. As an underrepresented female from a low-income background, I know that sometimes I can become disheartened around the challenges I face in both my professional and personal life. This is why Anita’s views on failure were so inspiring to listen to. One of her most memorable points she touched upon was how sometimes her greatest successes came shortly after experiencing what she considered ‘failure’. This was due to the growth mindset she adopted whilst overcoming these failures- instead of viewing them as indicators of ability or character, she viewed them as opportunities for growth and development, thus leading to success. It can be easy when facing failure, to take it as a sign to give up on our goals, and whilst trying to learn from failure is difficult, it is ultimately the most rewarding. Anita’s reflection upon her resilience as a mother also really resonated with me. As a young woman, I often wonder how I will balance my career if I ever become a mother, and Anita’s resilience and adaptability reassured me that by approaching and intentionally organising my life, I can maintain a work-life balance. This topic within Anita’s Q&A stood out to me as the most inspiring and I am grateful she shared her experiences. 

Anita also emphasised the importance of staying focused during our professional life by always searching for possible opportunities and making new contacts. When it comes to openness towards opportunities, Anita also reflected upon the fact that sometimes it is just as rewarding to do something different, rather than doing something immediately advantageous. For example, beginning a new hobby rather than pouring all of your efforts into one specific hobby you are already good at. She pointed out that by diversifying our talents, we can find out what truly fulfils us. This resonated with my journey with Circl. When completing the Circl application form, I never expected to grow so much from a programme and also meet so many like-minded individuals. As I begin to think about my upcoming academic year, I will keep Anita’s advice in mind, by staying open to any opportunities that present themselves to me.

Overall, I am incredibly grateful for Anita’s Q&A and wish her all of the best in the future. I will be keeping a keen eye out for any later events she is a part of. To conclude, Circl’s Q&A’s provide great opportunities to hear from incredible professionals such as Anita so that as young people, we can apply their wisdom and advice to our lives.

Head here for more information about the work we do with Future Leader's from underrepresented backgrounds.