Broad Horizon 17.03.2022

Aspiring women @ Broad Horizon – Helle Sasser

Helle Sasser | CFO Delegate & Projectum since September 2019 | Mother of 3 | 43 years | International career | Ambitious | Strong-minded | Icelandic horses 

A captivating international career
Helle started her career in the textile sector in Denmark and was later appointed plant manager in Bulgaria. She then moved to China with her family as Supply Chain Manager for a Danish company, soon after she co-founded her own business in the Chinese Molding & Assembly industry. After having built an impressive career in China, Helle decided to return to Denmark taking time to reflect on the past and start making plans for the future. She followed various courses and after her maternity leave, Helle worked at MyBanker where she was soon made responsible for Finance, HR, Compliance, Legal &Risk. In September 2019 she was appointed CFO at Delegate. Here she built up the Finance department from scratch as it was previously outsourced. She was also very much involved in the due diligence process when Broad Horizon acquired the company. Two years later, in January 2021, Broad Horizon acquired Projectum where Helle was initially appointed as CHO. Although the tech industry was not an obvious choice for Helle, she thoroughly enjoys working in this vibrant environment.

Delegate | Established in 2006 | 181 employees | Average age 34 | 33% women in Management Team | 17% women in Technical Team and Middle Management

Importance of women in the tech industry
According to Helle, the tech sector is still very much male-dominated. For her, it’s vital that genders start blending, on the management level, but also in the workplace in general. Women often ad another perspective, this can prove to be very relevant in a business environment. 

Denmark, like other Scandinavian countries, is known for its progressive approach regarding gender equality
Helle believes Denmark is on the right track, but that there is still some room for improvement. “Our government has made childcare centres affordable by linking it to salaries. Most women consciously choose to stay home in the first year, once they go back to work it is only natural that toddlers are brought to childcare centres so that women can pursue their careers.” 

And what about Delegate?
Delegate has a gender pay gap of 0%. This also means that when women are on maternity leave, they remain an active part of the company and thus also receive their yearly salary increase, which results in equal pay for men and women at the same level. At Delegate we also organise bi-monthly female network meetings, these inspirational meetings often host speakers and are immensely popular amongst the female employees. On a personal level, Helle finds that colleagues need to be recognised for their professional contributions and achievements, “It can really make my day when I see a team member being successful in their job and being acknowledged for their work.

No stigmas
Helle cannot remember ever being stigmatised for being a woman in a working environment. But, like a lot of women, she has felt guilty for missing out on her children. Personally, she feels more complete when she can pursue a career as this is what makes her happy. “happy mum, happy kids” is her motto, be it by staying at home, or going to work. “It’s finding the right balance that suits you and being happy with the choices you make!” Helle will always make sure to dress appropriately in line with her position as she believes it increases her authority. For her, it’s important to be seen as a competent person in her function. She is glad to see the younger generation of women is now embracing their womanhood more than previous generations, “It is refreshing to see young women have a lot more confidence than when I started my career.” Helle wants to point out the importance of gender equality: “let us find the right balance in this discussion for future generations so that both women and men alike feel confident in their job and in the workplace.

The European tech industry needs to offer more career opportunities for women in this sector. What is your view on this and how can this be achieved?
We need more women in influential positions in our industry. Helle is not a fan of the Pink Quota, it’s not the quantity that counts, but the quality. For her, it’s a question of making the sector as a whole more attractive to women by narrowing the gender pay gap, offering more flexibility, even at management positions, and accepting the fact that women take maternity leave.

Education plays a crucial role in this discussion. In a number of Danish schools, teenagers must already make a vital choice at the age of 12. It’s sad to see that maths and science are often being perceived as boring with the younger female generation and thus girls still tend to choose other subjects. The government, schools, and parents should allow more time for youngsters to make their definite choice as this will automatically have an effect on their future careers”. 

At the age of 16, Helle’s daughter plays football in the national football team of Denmark. “This was not an obvious choice, but it’s what makes her happy, and that is what counts!

What’s your typical working day routine?
The daily office routine is not that different than that of her colleagues, except maybe that she has more fun switching on her laptop after dinner to catch up on some work than seeing a Netflix movie. Flexibility is key for Helle, leaving the office earlier on Fridays so she can travel to her summer house and enjoy a relaxing weekend. 

What are your professional ambitions?
For Helle it is extremely satisfying to be able to take on new responsibilities. Being challenged every day and learning new things is what drives her. 

And your ambitions on a more personal level?
I would love to compete with Icelandic horses on the oval track. This horse is known for its tough personality and as a five-gaited breed.

Who/ what has had a strong influence on your professional choices?
For Helle, it’s not that one person or a specific event that took place. It’s the whole older generation of women who sacrificed a great deal by choosing to stay at home. The ones who then divorced were left with an uncertain future, having no career, no financial security. This generation has taught us that women need to live their own lives and follow their dreams, however big or small they may be. 

What’s your favourite quote?
Aim for the moon, if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.” She explains: “When you aim high, but can’t reach, know that at least you tried and you will be in a better place than where you started. Set high standards in everything you do in life! Don’t let yourself be restricted!