Being a Woman in Finance - Susanne Rothstein

Being a Woman in Finance - Susanne Rothstein
21 September, 2023

We were honoured to welcome Susanne Rothstein, Vice President Finance Hydro Building Systems at Norsk Hydro, onto the EMEA Recruitment podcast.

“When I have the opportunity to help young women in their careers, I take that opportunity.”

To kickstart the episode, Paul Toms, our Founder, asks Susanne about the last thing that made her smile. Susanne is generally a positive person, however, receiving photographs of her nephew never fails to make her smile. Positivity is something that comes naturally to Susanne; she always strives to see the positives in the smaller things.

Delving into Susanne’s career, she explains that Finance was not an ambition of hers while growing up. Before attending university, she gained a realistic view of working after high school and enjoyed the prospect of a career in an international setting.

Susanne began working in Finance, then moved into Strategy, and became the VP of Sustainability CSR, working with branding and internal communications. Five years ago, she decided to return to Finance.

At Norsk Hydro, Susanne’s amazing team challenges her to become the best version of herself. She thoroughly enjoys her role, along with having the opportunity to constantly learn in a dynamic function that touches everything in the business.  

In a global organisation, new things appear often. For example, having previous experience with sustainability helps when the business model is anchored in sustainability and circularity. 

Susanne has had nine different roles within the past 16 years at the business and credits the company for rewarding good work and providing opportunities. Susanne really enjoys manufacturing and dealing with a physical product.

Her advice for those contemplating staying or moving to another organisation is to consider that, if you stay, you are building knowledge and competence in an industry that becomes transferable, you also get to know the people in your network and identify those who can move the needle behind the scenes. Alternatively, jumping between industries, you start from zero. Although this provides an opportunity to reinvent yourself, you will have to formally follow the hierarchy for support before you get to know people.

We discuss how Finance remains a male-dominated discipline. In her first position as Business Controller, Susanne’s original contract used the pronoun “he” and Susanne was the only woman in the room. As a female, you are more visible, which you can sometimes use to your advantage, but Susanne admits there have been challenges.

In the past, she felt like she had to fight to have her voice heard, but has had plenty of good managers who didn’t care what gender you are, as long as the job is being done. She stresses the importance of choosing the right type of manager for you.  

Reflecting on the progress within the organisation, three out of four Business Unit heads are women in Susanne’s division. She feels proud to have the opportunity to help young women in their careers and has removed the gender pay gap she experienced when she joined.

Discussing an efficient and effective recruitment process, Susanne explains that she works in collaboration with a Human Resources Business Partner. Diversity is important when recruiting, as a balance of different perspectives and viewpoints is crucial for good team performance, she adds.

Personally, Susanne prefers to focus less on what people have done and more on what the person has the potential to do; what allowed them to achieve the things they have done is maybe not what will be needed to take them to the next level.

She adds that people in the organisation shouldn’t view the career journey as a ladder, but instead view it as a jungle gym – it is not always up and down, sometimes there are side steps.

Paul and Susanne explore the true cost of the wrong hire. Firstly, it is rare to hire a rotten person; the issue usually arises when it’s a bad match to the role or the manager’s expectations.

The real cost of the wrong hire is more difficult to measure when the job is done insufficiently. As a result, the team and manager usually have to step in to pick up the workload and de-prioritise other tasks. It is important to take the time to complete the recruitment process correctly the first time around – that, in itself, is a skillset.

We uncover Susanne’s strategies for managing and prioritising her workload. She cycles to and from work, which helps structure her mind for the day. Susanne wishes someone had told her sooner the importance of prioritising health and delves into the benefits of physical exercise on the brain.

Paul ends the episode by asking Susanne about her goals for the future. She shares a personal aspiration of tackling a challenging hike next summer. Her professional goal is to always continue learning.

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If you’re interested in a particular part of the episode, please use the timestamps below:

01:40 – The last thing that made Susanne smile
02:25 - Susanne’s positive attitude
04:15 - Why Susanne chose a career in Finance
07:15 - The importance of always learning
09:00 – 16 years at Norsk Hydro
11:20 - Advice for those contemplating a career move
13:20 - The fear of missing out
14:55 - Women in Finance: how it has changed
21:30 - Being the only woman in the room
28:35 - An efficient & effective recruitment process
32:44 - The true cost of the wrong hire
30:30 - Prioritisation & structuring time
42:30 - Susanne’s goals for the future

EMEA Recruitment is proud to support Operation Smile through this podcast. Operation Smile’s volunteers deliver life-changing surgery to children and adults with cleft lip and palate around the world. If you’re interested in finding out more or would like to donate to this cause, please visit:

The podcast is hosted by Paul Toms and Rose Jinks.

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