Participated in a leadership program, now holds a board position

Karen Klakegg - leadership program

– I have participated in other leadership programs in the past. Still, this is the first leadership program I have attended, which has been so focused, incredibly concrete, and applicable to my everyday life. I got the opportunity to learn more about myself and how I am in a team dynamic, and, not least, how to lead a software-as-a-service (SaaS) company in a growth environment, says Karen Klakegg, after attending the Viking Venture leadership program. 

Leadership talent 

Last year Karen Klakegg participated in the Viking Venture leadership program. She has proven herself as a great talent at Attensi, one of Viking Venture’s portfolio companies. Karen currently holds a position as the Director of Strategic Projects at Attensi, where she has worked her way up in the company, starting as a Global Talent Manager in 2019. Attensi provides gamified training solutions that train employees in large organizations, engaging people to change their behavior and making them better in their roles. 

A different kind of leadership program

– I found the focus on self-leadership and team dynamics combined with SaaS, particularly interesting. Additionally, Viking Venture is good at creating an arena where we in the portfolio can meet. The networking aspect of the program appealed to me, connecting with like-minded professionals in similar positions and organizations, says Karen about being selected for the leadership program for Attensi. 

After attending the leadership program, Karen says she was surprised at how much she learned and had many aha moments during the sessions, despite being skeptical of management programs due to past experiences. 

– We took a personality test and had a thorough walkthrough with an expert. He tied our qualities to different work settings, and we discussed how you, as a leader, act and can be perceived in various situations, which was very insightful. 

– Even more so, I found the SaaS part and how investors look at the market and value software companies particularly valuable. Being part of the management group at my company, you talk about these KPIs every day, week, and month. After the program, I have a better understanding of how the KPIs play together and understand how each KPI increases a company’s value. I have also shared this insight with my peers internally, and we all find it incredibly useful. 

Relational leadership

As a leader, Karen describes herself as empathetic and open-minded, focusing on the relational aspect of leadership. She is structured and driven to create progress and get things done, an essential capability in organizations where things change fast. 

– As a leader, I am more informal and focus on collaboration and making the people around me perform at their best. During the program, I understood that this way of leading can also be challenging. Because, sometimes, you do have to make tough decisions and be the one to cut through and steer in the right direction. Being more conscious of this is important, as it is essential to a leader’s mandate. Now I can involve fewer feelings in making these decisions, and as long as you handle it nicely, it is okay. 

Leadership skills required as a SaaS leader

Throughout the program, Karen enhanced her skills in creating value in business-to-business (B2B) software companies, self-leadership, and leading others. She highlights combining long-term thinking with being hands-on and making progress as especially important for a SaaS leader. 

– I continue to be amazed at how quickly things occur. You must keep your cool and let things play out, but at the same time, you must be incredibly quick to make decisions and feel that you have enough data to do so. I can sometimes think that: wow, are we going to make the big decision now? But you learn that it is necessary over time.

Board position at FotoWare

During the program, it became evident that Karen was an exceptional candidate for a board position and an ideal fit for FotoWare, another portfolio company of Viking Venture. Her extensive knowledge and expertise in organizational processes and her experience with enterprise sales from Attensi made her the perfect match for what FotoWare was seeking in a new board member.

– One of my goals has always been to leverage my work experience and expertise in a board position. When Viking reached out to me, my initial reaction was a mix of excitement and wondering if I was ready for this opportunity. However, after going through the management program, I have gained a deeper understanding of the role of a management group and what SaaS companies should focus on to create value. This realization boosted my confidence and helped me set aside any reservations, allowing me to say yes to this exciting opportunity. 

– Furthermore, FotoWare is an exciting company operating in a slightly different segment than Attensi. It presents a valuable chance for me to expand my knowledge and contribute to an organization that shares my passion for culture, organization, and other areas of expertise. 

Additionally, considering FotoWare’s track record of multiple successful acquisitions, there will likely be various challenges ahead where I can offer my help and knowledge. In summary, this opportunity promises personal growth and provides a platform for me to make a meaningful impact.

If given the opportunity, say yes to the leadership program

– I recommend that everyone given the opportunity to attend the leadership program say yes! It’s an excellent opportunity to learn more about yourself and how you work in a team dynamic. The program shows you, in a very concrete way, how to lead a SaaS company in a growth environment, which is unique. I have not heard of other places where you get so pointedly, incredibly concrete, and applicable learnings to your day-to-day work. I recommend jumping on board if you get the chance, ends Karen when asked if she would recommend the leadership program to others.