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As a young girl, I had dreams of becoming a chef when I grew up, but there was one problem—I despised berries. A family member, aware of my aversion, pointed out that being a chef would require me to taste everything, including berries. Looking back now, I’m grateful that I didn’t pursue a career as a chef, even though I have a deep love for food. I take immense pride in my role at Schneider. Here is how it started!
Starting from the beginning
Fifteen years ago, if someone asked me whether I would work in Sales at a technical company, I would have laughed. My life has been full of surprises and unexpected turns. Joining Schneider was one of those surprises, especially since I do not have a technical background!
My work life started when I was just 13. I got my first job at a butcher shop, counting and organizing orders before they were delivered. I did this for three years after school and on weekends. Later on, I worked at a clothing and retail store. After finishing school, I wasn’t sure what to do next. That’s when my sister signed me up for a year-long vocational training program in Theater and Fire safety at Karmøy Folkehøgskule (Yes! Two totally unrelated courses! But that’s what it was!). I had a blast in Theater, and Fire Safety posed interesting challenges. Following that, I moved to Stavanger and worked as a Kindergarten teacher for three years.
Then, I returned to my hometown and landed a job at a call center providing customer services on behalf of a TV distributor. It was there that I met Anna Håkansson, who became my colleague and friend – and later on manager. Anna and I had great working chemistry. So, when I joined Schneider later, I referred Anna for a role, and she started her journey at Schneider too! Read Anna’s Schneider story here!
Stepping out of Comfort Zone
I joined Schneider Electric in December 2013, initially working in Customer Services for Fire & Security and Building Management Systems (BMS) on a contract basis. It was a fantastic start, surrounded by a lively group of colleagues. After a few years, I felt a strong desire to step out of my comfort zone, learn new things, and explore different opportunities. I left Schneider and joined another company, also within the security market, for two years. Following that job, I landed myself in ELKO’s Customer Service Center (Schneider acquired ELKO in 1999).
It was my sister, Maja, also an employee of Schneider, who was offered the opportunity at ELKO, but she graciously recommended me instead. The job description had a more technical requirement than my background, but I decided to go ahead with the interview. The interviewers were impressed and mentioned that they were seeking a team player with a thirst for learning, a description of me which I find myself comfortable in!
Learning Piece by Piece
Being in product sales meant I needed a solid understanding of the products. My learning journey began on day one. The offer manager approached me with a thermostat and a screwdriver, instructing me to take it apart. I looked at him with confusion and asked, “How?” He replied, “That’s up to you!”
I meticulously disassembled the thermostat, piece by piece, and proudly presented it to him. He then challenged me to put it back together exactly as it was. I felt nervous, but he explained, “You’ll soon be interacting and collaborating with engineers who are thermostat experts. To grasp their conversations, you need to know the product inside out.”
A newfound curiosity ignited within me. I yearned to comprehend and master each product I encountered. I sought out colleagues who were willing to teach me, such as Ståle Walentin and Pål Christoffersen. They went out of their way to provide guidance and knowledge. I carried a notebook, which I affectionately referred to as my “Bible.” It contained all my notes, drawings, and technical explanations.
The Switch: From ELKO to Schneider
I also got the opportunity to meet customers at fairs as a representative of ELKO. The working days were largely characterized by customer support within sales, problem solving for urgent matters, as well as technical support for, among other things, ELKO smart homes.
My role gave me a glimpse into the world of sales and soon I yearned to pursue a career in it.
Initially, when I approached my superiors about my interest in Sales, there were no available positions. In my search for a Sales job, I received an offer from another company, and I was on the verge of leaving ELKO when Arild Bjørkedal, who oversaw SE’s Secure Power Division in the Nordic Baltics, heard about it. As we discussed, he asked if I would be interested in joining his team at Schneider. I accepted his offer and declined the other opportunity. And thus, my Sales journey at Schneider began!
Making a Difference
In my new role, I had more opportunities to network. As I connected with people and learned about different departments and business units, I realized the abundance of opportunities within Schneider. One could truly become anything they wanted to be within the company – if you are open for challenges and willing to learn.
My experience in the company has shown me that, wherever you are, irrespective of the BU, there will always be colleagues who really want you to succeed and will help you on your way. After joining the Secure Power team, I had new things to learn and understand. And incredible new colleagues who wanted to help me. One of my mentors, Jan Ivar Frantzen, is a good example. He started working in MGE UPS systems (a company SE bought) the year I was born. A technical genius, he shared his knowledge with me to help me understand and grow. Shortly afterwards, I stopped using the ‘manual’, but I started recording formulas and explanations. Sticky notes with essential formulas covered my computer screen, some I still use sometimes.
Being the massive company, that Schneider is, it opens a world of opportunities for its employees to try, learn and grow in various areas of expertise, irrespective of their educational background or prior work experience. From counting sausages at a butcher shop to becoming an Inside Sales Specialist, my journey is a testament to that. As the excitement of my journey continues to unfold, I shall continue to take on challenges and learn!
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Are you interested in a career at Schneider Electric like Julie? Check out our careers website for more information and for available positions to take your career journey to the next level.
About the author
Julie Frosterød, Inside Sales Specialist
Growing up, Julie did various jobs – from butcher shop, retail store to being a kindergarten teacher. Her diverse work experience shaped Julie into an eager learner. Julie’s aptitude to learn, along with the support and guidance of her Schneider colleagues, caused her to embrace a technical career and succeed in it.