WINConference celebrating 20 years in Oslo with a carbon neutral event

Did you know that advancing women’s equality can add USD 12 trillion to global growth? (McKinsey). WINConference empowers women and will celebrate its 20th anniversary with their annual conference in Oslo 27-29 September 2017. The Global WINConference is the most established forum on leadership and female empowerment in Europe and attracts 700 people annually. We sat down with Kristin Engvig, a social entrepreneur and the founder of WIN, to learn more about this leadership organisation and its carbon neutral event.


Why is this conference so special?

WIN empowers, connects and inspires women worldwide in a global, authentic and feminine way. The three-day conference is a unique opportunity to meet the leaders of today and tomorrow, to be inspired, and network. It is a unique mix of business dialogue and self-development.

WIN is both a community of professional women working internationally and a leadership organization. We help realise people’s potential and their leadership journey for doing business authentically. Along the way, WIN helps enhance careers, improve business and develop potential along with individuality.

Many conferences have themes – but this one has a unique vision. Previous speakers include: Paul Polman, CEO of Unilever; Mikael Ohlsson, President & CEO of IKEA Group; Irene Dorner, President and CEO of HSBC; Umran Beba President Asia Pacific Region, Pepsico India; Hanna Birna Kristjánsdóttir, Minister of the Interior Iceland; Cherie Blair Booth, Noted British Attorney, Human Rights Advocate; Emma Bonino, Vice President Senate of the Republic Italy; Laura Boldrini President of the Chamber of Deputies Italy and many more.

Today more than 14,000 women have had the opportunity to attend the Global WINConference. We have also hosted regional WINConference in Tokyo, New Delhi, Mumbaiand Abuja, Nigeria. As a Norwegian, I am proud to host the next upcoming conference 27-29 September in Oslo. Among our speakers we wil have Michel Landel, CEO Sodexo; Marguerite  (Maggy) Barankitse, founder of Maison Shalom; Anita Pratap, Journalist and former India bureau chief for CNN; Anita Krohn Traaseth, CEO Innovation Norway and Gloria Burgess, President and CEO Jazz Inc. The best way to understand why this conference is so special is to attend it and live the experience. You can read more here.

Selfie: Kristin Engvig, WINConference & Preben Munch, ECOHZ at the stage of WINConference 2016 in Rome


And how do you work with companies?

WIN has worked together with a large group of corporate partners including IBM, Maersk and Nestle. We have also worked with Business Schools including SDA Bocconi, INSEAD and IMD. We are proud to partner with ECOHZ to ensure that the events are carbon neutral. We encourage them to come to WIN and use it as their leadership development programme. We also run a corporate learning and networking group that holds 4 meetings a year and we run the annual WINCorporate forum on Diversity and Inclusion.

Why did you start WIN?

I was born in Kristiansund, Norway and came from an artistic family. After my MBA at Bocconi Univsersity in Milan I worked in the financial sector in JPMorgan and Citibank. I quickly realised that I did not fit in and had to adjust to a masculine way of doing things to succeed; it was hard to be heard, I could not use my creativity and I had to navigate complicated politics in the office. I quit my job and worked for the Norwegian-Italian Chamber of Commerce and taught marketing in Bulgaria, Lithuania, Latvia, Russia and travelled around the world. Travelling, I experienced first hand the challenges women were facing and realised the freedom and opportunities I had, I wanted to find a way to ensure that women everywhere had the same opportunities as everyone else in the work force and in life. Freedom of choice.

We saw the need for an international network of women that were empowered to help women have more freedom, make more decisions and create good workplaces. I used my passion to change the world by building a community and empowering women to improve their workplace. So in 1997, together with several other international people, we founded Women’s International Network (WIN).

20 years later you are hosting the WINConference in Oslo, Norway. Norway is recognised for gender equality in society and workplace. Why would you recommend that Norwegians attend the Conference at the end of September?

I have been enabled and empowered to do what I do because I come from Norway. Hosting the 20th anniversary Global WINConference here in Oslo is a way to celebrate and recognise Norway’s success. Companies and countries internationally look to Norway as an example of how women should be respected in the work place. What better way to recognize this positive case study than hosting the conference here?

But at the same time, I think Norwegian women often lack an international network. So for Norwegians, attending WIN will give them an opportunity to hear stories and meet inspiring women from around the world.


What makes this WIN network so special?

The network is not just a pile of business cards and networking opportunities. Over the three-day conference we grow together. We host each conversation with eight rules of networking:

  1. Be open
  2. Be ready to connect
  3. Be quick to contribute
  4. Take a risk
  5. Commit
  6. Don’t accept the unacceptable
  7. Be light & have fun
  8. Expect magic

And my favourite exercise is when we sit in circles, share our wishes and the other participants try to help make that wish come true.

You have met a lot of inspiring participants at WINConference and heard their stories. What would be your three pieces of advice to other female professionals?

The list could go on, but let me share the three that I try to practice every day.

  1. What you trust to believe is true – will become true. Envision your dream and do not censor it.
  2. Build a network to help realize your dream. There are a lot of people out there that can help you!
  3. Support others. Trust others. And be generous.