SHE Podcast with Isabella Alveberg

A Leader Does Not Have to Be a Specialist 

In our newest episode of Breakfast With a CEO, Isabella Alveberg, CEO of Snøhetta, talks about social sustainability and a leader’s responsibility towards different disciplines and passions.  

Their Work

If you have not heard of the architectural and design company Snøhetta, you perhaps know their work, for example the Norwegian Opera House or the Bibliotheca Alexandrina in Alexandria, Egypt.  

Isabella Alveberg arrived at Snøhetta after vast experience from being a leader at Microsoft and within the tech industry. She did not have any experience from either architecture or design, but she believes that the most important thing while working in a team is to have respect for each other by acknowledging that people have different disciplines that are their expertise. As a leader you are not the specialist, you have a responsibility to build up a team where the best people for the job hold the positions.  

Photo by: Nils Petter Dale

Social Sustainability 

Snøhetta is a company based on sustainability, and especially social sustainability, that is recognizing the significance of the relationships with people, communities and society. 

While building the Bibliotheca Alexandrina, Snøhetta was adamant that all the workers were given fresh water and proper security gear. 

Surrounding the stone exterior of the library are beautiful carvings, and Snøhetta had stone masons teach the Egyptian workers how to do the engraving.  

Broader Definition of Equality 

Alveberg believes that equality is an important part of social sustainability, but that we have to have a broader definition of what constitutes equality and be open to different mindsets and passions. And in regard to attracting women to the company, we should ask the leaders why they are not more successful in having a diverse and equal recruitment. It is not the responsibility of the women, but rather the leader’s responsibility to recruit more women—and more female leaders. 

Her best advice for young, aspiring leaders? Well, you’ll have to listen to the podcast.  

Tune in to Breakfast With a CEO each Monday on SHE Community’s podcast channel.