We interviewed Ea in Copenhagen one year after she attended Young Leaders Boot Camp 2014 about how the program has impacted her.
By Evie Soli and Sarah Dolah
Could you tell us a bit about yourself?
You might say I am from a quite uncommon Danish background. No one in my family has gone to university. So for me to go to high school and later university has been special. My personality is characterized by always striving upward, while still remembering where I am from.
I have a master’s degree in anthropology from Lund University and another one in Middle Eastern studies from the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in London. I would say I am an anthropologist who travels a lot with a different background. And I pride myself on all those aspects.
I would say that I am an anthropologist who travels a lot with a different background. And I pride myself on all of those aspects.
What made you apply to Young Leaders Boot Camp?
Primarily because of its combination of the Middle Eastern and the Scandinavian view. Going to the countryside of Sweden really appealed to me. I think many non-Swedes have this idea of this tremendous self-development you can do in the Swedish countryside. That is just the magic of it apparently!
In Denmark, we have many relations to the Middle East, although not all of them are good. To Dubai, we have a lot of good, really positive relations though, and that made the program interesting to me as well.
What did you expect from the program?
I expected something a little different. I thought that it would resemble other professional networks that I have been part of. I was really surprised, and I did not know that this was what I needed. I remember calling my mum and saying: this is crazy, this is something new, and I don’t know what is happening.
Could you tell us a bit more about why you say you needed YLBC?
I was experiencing a big change in my life. I saw it as a structural thing that would soon work itself out, and then I would just get up on the horse and start riding again. What I came to realize during the camp was that it was deeper than that, and that there were others who felt like I did.
It has started this development within myself, which I think I would not have been able to do in a decade otherwise. I feel like I have grown immensely personally.
It has started this development within myself that I think I would not have been able to do in a decade otherwise. I feel like I have grown immensely personally.
Some people push everything uncomfortable aside throughout their careers. At the camp, I finally had the courage to confront those uncomfortable things and truly become part of what determines my career and where I want to go. What kind of leader I will be. For me, sustainable growth in that aspect is to confront the uncomfortable things and grow. Sustainable growth is something people usually use their entire careers realizing.
In which ways would you say that attending YLBC has had the most impact on you?
I would say that it has given me more courage. I would have loved to be part of this earlier, because I think that 18-year-old Ea would really have benefited from it. She could have been just a little bit more confident. Instead of being like, “Oh, thank you. That was nothing”…You know. I think that after the camp I realized that it is okay to be sure of yourself. To be both sure of yourself while at the same time unsure of everything. Realizing those two things, that is real courage I think. That is the courage you need.
I think after the camp I realized that it is okay to be sure of yourself. To be both sure of yourself while at the same time unsure of everything. Realizing those two things, that is real courage I think. That is the courage you need.
Now, it is not just about which stream I want to float down on, but more about what direction I want to go. I am definitely trying to be aware of not just my professional development but also of how my personal growth is part of that development. How the two things interconnect.
How do you see your future? Is your aim to become a leader?
In the longer run, it is my ambition to have my own organization. I really want to work more with prisoners’ rights. I would like to start up something where I can approach the subject from a humanistic point of view.
If you look at the next six months, what are your expectations and needs from the YLBC community?
Perhaps to tap more into people’s experiences. At the camp, it was very easy to share and learn from each other. One of the things that really inspired me was to hear others’ stories and think, okay, I can learn that as well; I can feel better as well; I can finish this course as well. You hear others’ stories and you get inspired.
My expectation is to approach the network and say ”this is what I want to do, how can I learn from any of you guys?”
Do you think the program has had an impact on your leadership abilities?
I do a lot of presentations, and while I never do a presentation without feeling confident in my material, I learned that I apparently touch my skirt after the presentation as if to say “no…you know, don’t mind me”. It was crucial for me to be told that I needed to tone that down and show more confidence. And I think that is such a challenge for a lot of women, that we cover up and hide our body language and our bodies and what we wear. We are often very self-conscious. That was a great plus that I did not expect.
It was also important to experience the diversity and to hear people’s stories. Because if you can’t listen to others and understand how they are feeling, then you can’t help them reach their potential. I think it is a better way to approach leadership.
I never had a place before where I could share the doubts that I have. Because previously it was very professional, and if you ever had doubts or if you were in a slump, there was no one to turn to.
I never had a place before where I could share the doubts that I have. Because previously it was very professional, and if you ever had doubts or if you were in a slump, there was no one to turn to. Yeah, it sounds rough, but that is how it felt.