“I made friends for life, friends who share a common desire to make their careers stronger,” says University of Iceland alumna Auður Lilja Davíðsdóttir of her MBA programme experience. Find out how adding to her skills and knowledge also enabled Davíðsdóttir to implement a new sustainability strategy in her role as a director of sales and marketing
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your career to date?
My name is Auður Lilja Davíðsdóttir and I am from Iceland. I was born in a small fishing village but now I live in Reykjavík with my husband and children.
I work as the director of sales and marketing at Oryggismidstodin, a service company in the safety and welfare technology field, where I have worked for the last 19 years. I started as a key account manager, before managing the departments of consultants and key account managers and, for the last six years, I have been responsible for the sale of security solutions as a director of that division. I am also responsible for the company’s marketing matters. During my career, I have led a number of projects in the area of improvement, most recently implementing a sustainability strategy into the company’s operations.
Where and when did you achieve your MBA?
I did my MBA at the University of Iceland between 2019 and 2021.
Why did you want to study for an MBA? And why did you choose to do an MBA at this particular school?
I am extremely curious, finding almost every topic interesting in some way, and I wanted to expand my horizons and increase both my knowledge and value. For a long time, I had my eye on an MBA programme as it is diverse and covers all branches of business in one way or another. I finally made a long-awaited dream come true and applied after the encouragement of many good people.
I chose the University of Iceland because the school received good recommendations, the programme has a good connection to the business world and its mentors have a good reputation. I didn’t have a hard time with this choice.
What single course, project, initiative or aspect of the programme experience was your favourite part of the MBA?
It’s hard to choose a single one. I was like a child at Christmas who finds all packages equally exciting. Some programme aspects were ‘soft’ while others were harder, but I learned something new from almost all of them, as well as from my fellow students who were eager to share their experiences.
I got a lot out of the financial subjects, for example, and found international business modules exciting, especially since Iceland is a small country and it is instructive to reflect on our position in the global environment.
What challenges did you face when studying for an MBA?
It took time to find the right rhythm – I had a demanding job with a full family life and had to find a balance. However, I received good support from my husband and family, as well as time to study. I enjoyed learning, whether it was at school or in an individual or group project. I enjoyed this opportunity and am grateful that I was able to make it work successfully even though prioritising was often a challenge.
How has the MBA made a difference to your career and development as a manager/leader?
I greatly increased my knowledge in many areas. For example, I did not have a background in finance, yet I am now immersed in data and facts about the business, with a deeper understanding of the importance of good data analysis.
I also received confirmation and validation of the knowledge I acquired before the MBA, which was important to me. I became more confident as a manager and subsequently got more opportunities within the company, such as with regards to the aforementioned implementation of a sustainability strategy.
In addition, the programme has helped me develop as a manager – I now know with greater certainty what is the right approach or action to emphasise at any given time.
Can you offer an example of a lesson learnt during your MBA that you have been able to apply to your current role and workplace?
My newly acquired knowledge for the implementation of a sustainability strategy, mentioned above. As part of my MBA, I did a final project on the best methods and proposals to implement a sustainability strategy in Oryggismidstodin. This knowledge was put to good use in the company and enabled us to meet a legal requirement that was imminent, for which we needed to submit information, actions and measurements. Without my input, we would have had to source external help, with their associated costs. I am extremely proud of what we have achieved around, for example, environmental issues as a result of that work in a short period of time.
What advice would you give to someone who is thinking about studying for an MBA?
Explore the options, talk to those who have done an MBA and apply if you like what you hear. I thought it was important to come in with experience to build on and especially good to be able to use the vast majority of what I learned in my work immediately. I made friends for life, friends who share a common desire to make their careers stronger. There is no better place to meet and make friends like that than in an MBA programme.
What are the next steps for you on your career journey?
Time will tell and you never know where the future will take you. I still haven’t quite decided what I’m going to do when ‘I grow up’, but I have many options because I have a broad and diverse MBA education.
Today and in the coming months, I will use my experience and knowledge to make a strong company even better together with Oryggismidstodin’s excellent employees. We are on a journey of growth and success driven by innovation in the field of security and welfare technology solutions, where we work with numerous partners who produce excellent solutions that we want to introduce to the Icelandic market. So, I have plenty to do, which is a privilege that I am very grateful for.