As many of you are aware, I was born in India and lived there for about 22 years. Since then I have lived in a total of 3 countries; travelled for work and vacation to many countries and have friends all over the world. However there is one city that has a very special place in my heart, where I feel “at home” and that is in Stockholm. For someone who
never felt at home even in the country I was born in or in the country/city where I have lived for a total of 18 years (and where I currently live), it is interesting that I feel at home in a city where I lived for a total of about 2 and a half years. I have been asked very often about how I “discovered” Stockholm and happened to live there. This post is about Lotta, who not only gave me the opportunity to live and work in Stockholm but showed me so much more…..
I had been working for a Swedish company for more than 4 years when the manager that I was working with then thought that I was capable of more. With his encouragement and support, I started to look for opportunities within the company. We were looking at an internal position in marketing, when I saw a position for a project manager in Human Resources (HR) for the first worldwide HR project that the company was planning to start. The position was very interesting, it was however based in Stockholm (and I was living in Munich) and I had absolutely no experience in HR. The position reported to Lotta, who was then Vice President of Management and Organisational Development.
To cut a long story short, even though there were other candidates who had more experience for this role, Lotta offered me the job. There are many HR professionals who talk about hiring people for their attitude and not skills but few who do so – Lotta however walked the talk! She trusted her gut feeling; looked not at my qualifications but at my potential, thought me capable of
working on an important and international project although I had no experience in such projects before and no formal HR experience. She introduced me to the world of HR; was my manager, mentor, guide, coach and advisor. She not only invested in me professionally but took a personal interest in me, to the extent of ensuring that I found a good and “safe” place to stay in Stockholm since I moved there alone (Bernd had a job then that was Munich based). She not only took me under her wings but also opened up the wonderful world of Stockholm to me, introducing me to people who helped me find my feet there. When she moved on to another role in a different company, which was a few months after we started working together, she “left me in good hands” and I continued the path that I had begun with a confidence and certainty that I had not had before. I was blessed to work with two great HR professionals after her, who were also my mentors and managers, and today I cannot imagine working in any other field.
Interestingly, Lotta was the first female manager who I worked directly with. Before her I had worked with three incredible male managers who had encouraged, promoted and mentored me. Seeing me rise so quickly in each position (and company) led to some
colleagues gossiping about the fact that my promotion and the opportunities given to me had something to do with the fact that these managers were male and I was female. So when Lotta offered me this position in Stockholm, it took some of the wind out of the sails of these gossipers.
It was also a very new experience for me to work with a woman manager. Lotta was nothing like many of the “unprofessional, scheming, envious and political” women managers (and colleagues) I had worked with before. She had great personal and professional integrity, was very competent, empathetic, had a high energy level and was great fun to work with.
As I have mentioned in previous posts, the years that I spent in Stockholm played a key role in making me the person I am today. Ever since I can remember I have fought to be the person I am; way too often adjusting to people’s expectations of me; not fitting into people’s ideas of who I should be; not being accepted for the person I was; being put into a box because of my appearance, ethnicity, color and sex….the list is long. A couple of years before I left for Stockholm, I had started finding myself again, getting a glimpse of the person I was and could become. In Stockholm, I could finally see clearer the person I was, discovered things about myself I didn’t know, gained a confidence that I never had before, was accepted for who I was and found the courage to be the person I was. And my restless and wandering soul finally found home! It is difficult to explain why Stockholm is home for me but one of the main reasons is because I am loved and accepted for the person I am…but that is the topic for another post.
Even though I “left” Stockholm in 2010, we have continued to
go back very frequently not only because this is home for us (yes, even for Bernd) but also because of the wonderful friendships that have formed with the people we have met and gotten to know there. And over the years, Lotta has become a very dear friend; continues to inspire, encourage and support me (and Bernd!); has opened her heart and home to all three of us (yes including Jaden!); introduced us to wonderful and amazing people we wouldn’t have befriended had it not been for her (it was Lotta wo introduced me to her friend Yvonne, who is one of the designers of Yvone Christa, the beautiful Swedish jewellery that I only wear now). As I mentioned in my last post, we spent two wonderful weeks in Stockholm over Christmas and New Year. It was also very special that we could spend New Year’s Eve with Lotta and her friends, we couldn’t have thought of a more wonderful way to welcome 2018.
This February it will be exactly 10 years since I accepted that job in Stockholm and Lotta took me under her wings. So today I wanted to say a special thank you to Lotta. Those who know her will understand when I say that when Lotta enters a room, she lights it up with her presence. Her vivaciousness, exuberance, positive energy, humour and zest for life is so infectious; topped by her warm and generous heart, her empathic and caring spirit; not to forget her courage to fight for justice, against oppression and for the week. Thank you Lotta for the wonderful, caring and amazing friend that you are. Above all thank you for believing in me all those years ago; for bringing light, hope, warmth to my heart and soul. Thank you for leading me “home” to Stockholm; to a place where I can find rest, healing, strength, support and love.