Female role model of the year award

Interview with Stina Tang, who has just received Saab's Female Role Model of the Year Award, along with the results of Karriärbarometern (Career Barometer).

The results of Karriärbarometern, which ranks Sweden's most attractive employers, were presented during the Talent Excellence Summit & Awards. During 2016 Saab placed in the top ranks once again. Saab was ranked 14th by professional civil engineers, while professionals within Data/IT ranked Saab as the 15th most interesting employer. In connection with the event, Saab presents an award to a young woman who serves as an inspiration above and beyond the usual. Around 50 women were nominated this year, with Stina Tang from EY winning the award amid fierce competition.

Stina Tang is a young woman who attended an international secondary school and who, after completing her studies in Industrial Economics, relocated to China to begin a career in the IT industry. Upon her return to Sweden, she decided to work towards a degree in Sustainable Technology at KTH. When she is able to work with complex issues that combine sustainable development and environmental technology and management, this 29-year old is in her prime. She received Saab's Female Role Model of the Year Award because she inspires young girls to dare to break into male-dominated work environments and because she possesses a strong drive when it comes to integration and diversity in Swedish workplaces.


Congratulations on the award Stina! What was that little something extra that meant you won the Female Role Model of the Year Award?

When I found out I won, I don't think I managed to say anything more coherent than "Thank you, ok I think I'm going to cry now." The other finalists were truly amazing! They're so committed, driven and inspiring, I really thought one of them would have won! But it feels great now afterwards; once I was no longer tongue-tied and could tell my family and friends, so many people said things like: "well-deserved", "you are a true role model", "I'm not surprised". Maybe the little something extra was that I was just myself?

Please tell us a bit about your background and what you do at EY at present?

My work at EY involves a combination of strategy, reporting and sustainable development. "In consonance with prevailing climate changes and increased societal involvement, companies today have greater incentives to rethink their own business models and strategies. They ask themselves a host of questions, such as: How should a business be run from a long-term perspective? What role will human rights principles play in proprietary supply chains in terms of employing today's students who will become tomorrow's top talents? How will they meet new legal requirements such as the EU Directive on Sustainability Reporting and the U.K Modern Slavery Act? How can a company become more sustainable? It is profoundly exciting to work with these questions and to contribute towards their solutions.

How will you utilise the award, moving forward?

I want to continue to strengthen diversity and integration in Swedish workplaces. I believe that many young people who are on their way into working life or who have just established themselves can learn a great deal from the things I have worked with for a while - and vice versa. Those who have experience and knowledge to share can also learn from the way young people view culture, language, travelling, nationality, equality, sexual identity and disability. With the goal of promoting diversity and integration in Swedish workplaces, I want to set up - and help others to set up - networks geared towards raising the profile of marginalised groups in society. This can relate to female business managers or visually impaired professionals, etc. At the moment, I already have a protégé and serve as a sounding board to other new employees at my workplace. I am part of networks like Female Leader Engineer, Qrage, and a Sino-Swedish network for young professionals. I also run an internal network for EY colleagues who have roots in China. This has provided me with immense support in my career as it is important for me to be able to delve into issues that have to do with corporate culture, professionalism, and unwritten rules/norms in society. And, with my multicultural background, these were sometimes perplexing owing to conversational topics at home and school often revolving around cultural norms which were unfamiliar to me. 

I also firmly believe in helping others to help themselves. I have had several role models that I've looked up to over the years, role models of various ages, and with various backgrounds and languages - men and women, straight and gay, with or without disabilities. What if I didn't have these people? Some people may not have had the good fortune I have had, or grown up in the same circumstances, but I believe that everyone who wishes to develop and learn new things ought to have a chance to do so.

What advice can you offer companies who wish to attract women to male-dominated workplaces?

I consider the saying: "There's no smoke without fire" to be very true. A good start would be to ask: "Why is our workplace overly male-dominated?" Personally, I agree with having quotas with respect to women in senior positions, purely because change itself requires... change. A valuable tip is to use a filter function for job applications in order to "de-filter" gender, nationality and so on, thereby reducing the risk of "business as usual". I also think that requirements need to be established by employers when it comes to shared parental leave. An article I read a while back argued that men who had become dads got a boost in their careers while women were impeded. Come on, we live in the 21st century and children need their fathers just as much as they need their mothers. How will future generations turn out if they grow up with the same view of gender roles as my grandparents?

When it comes to sustainability, sustainable development and climate, what is what?

Thanks for asking that! I always enjoy getting an opportunity to highlight sustainable development and climate issues. I often hear things about sustainability like "it's trendy" or that "the time is right" for it. My response is usually to counter with: "Why is the time right?" "Why is it perceived as trendy?" Perhaps you've noticed that the weather and climate have been a little... shaky of late? The climate change we are facing has meant that, for us in Sweden, we've had a few more rainy months, but it has also resulted in five islands in the Pacific having dropped below sea level. Typhoons and hurricanes hitting coastlines and periods of extended drought around the equator are becoming the norm and are no longer the exception. The ecosystem has been thrown out of balance, which has contributed to evacuations and famine, along with conflicts over the few natural resources left for millions of people who are not as fortunate as ourselves. Creating sustainable development is actual development - continuous improvement. I hope that more people start making wiser choices. Purchasing carbon offsets to compensate for our summer holidays can make a huge difference for many down the line. Waste management, biogas hybrid vehicles and geothermal heating are examples of technological developments that provide us with the same quality of life we have always enjoyed, but they reduce the strain on the planet and its ecosystems. We can all do something - maybe start by becoming a contributor to an organisation that plants trees as a carbon offset, cycle more often instead of taking the car all the time, and going for the vegetarian option the next time you're at a restaurant. Choose development that's headed in the right direction!

Award presentation statement:

This year's Female Role Model of the Year combines her technical background with a passion for sustainability and an unwavering belief that diversity leads to innovation. She inspires young women to break in to male-dominated work environments and, once there, to reach their stride. At the age of ten, she already knew that she wanted to become an engineer, and her impetus and commitment perfectly correspond to Saab's ambition to constantly push the boundaries of what it considered technically and intellectually possible. And this is why Stina Tang, Sustainability Consultant at EY, is being presented with Saab's 2016 Female Role Model of the Year Award.