Sesselia Birgisdottir is the director of innovation and marketing at Hagar, which is the leading retail company in Iceland within food specialty and fuel markets. Sesselia has started at Hagar very recently, taking on the role of executive director for service and marketing at Icelandic Post prior. Before that, she’s been the director of digital media and marketing at an IT consultancy. In all these roles, she has been leading digital transformation projects. Sesselia puts much effort into the people affected by and driving the transformations. Thus I invited her to talk about the human challenges of digital transformations. 

One of the most interesting, unexpected, and sincere parts of our conversations was when Sesselia and I touched on the subject of her recent workplace change. For over a year and a half Sesselia was working for Icelandic Post, and she put a huge effort to reform the whole operations system of the company. However, just a couple of months ago, she left the company and started working for Hagar. This seems like quite an unexpected decision, so I wanted to explore it.

Sesselia says that her decision was incredibly difficult for her, but she decided to leave the company because she felt like she was dragging it. How could that be if the company just reached its peak and the team was working together like a clock? Sesselia says: “I sat there and I saw that I would get in the way instead of leading the way if I stay. And that’s why I want to mention that it’s important to step down when you feel that way. Otherwise, the ego can come up. You can feel like, “Oh, now we’re on a roll. Now, all these changes that we’ve been fighting for, all these customer journey conversations that we have been having for hours and hours, are giving us the clarity and we are starting to see results.” But it’s important to step down if you feel like you have given as much as you can and that team needs someone else, better fitting to step-in instead of you.” 

Sesselia is quite happy with her new job and is working now with the new team transforming the retail industry. But the main lesson that one can take out of this story is that to step down is also a part of leadership. Leading the way is easier than knowing when and where to stop. To be a genius leader is to be able to feel such moments all the way through and, after you feel like your part has been completed, go and find another place or role where you can be helpful. 

This section was a concluding part of our interview, and if you would like to learn more, we also talked about the importance of accepting the change for the success of any digital transformation, the role of leadership and communication in the transformation processes, and how much communication is too much, transformational journey of the Icelandic post on the peak of the pandemic, staying passionate about the purpose and the vision as a leader, and tips on how to revisit the vision on a daily basis. 

You can find the whole recording of the interview here.

Stay tuned and be genius!


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