Charlotte Bendsøe is a Partner in Financial Services Advisory, who are responsible for advising clients in the financial sector. Previously, Charlotte worked for a reinsurance company, and it was a bit of a coincidence that she ended up at KPMG in the first place. She didn't think the job as a consultant was for her: 

Reading the job add it did not at all catch my interest. Then when I went for the interview, for some reason I was won over, and afterwards I was sure that it was right for me. The human aspect, interacting with a lot of different people daily, is what I value most of being a consultant.

Charlotte has now been with KPMG since 2013, with a brief detour to the industry. She was, therefore, also part of KPMG when we started up again in 2014. Today, she spends most of her time leading large transformation projects for both banks and insurance companies and in November 2023, she reached a major milestone when she was promoted to Partner.

Charlotte Bendsøe
Charlotte Bendsøe

Having the courage to believe in yourself and dream big

Charlotte says that the partner title has never been a goal for her. She has always had a “go-with-the-flow” mindset, so it wasn't until she was promoted to Director that she suddenly realised that the partner title was within her reach and that there was good reason to dream big:

"Maybe I've always had the dream but didn't focus on it as a goal. I think many people can probably recognise this. At one moment, I realised that this was something I wanted to aim for and openly started to work towards that goal.”

What many may not realise is that the process towards becoming a partner is a long one. For Charlotte, the initial conversations began a couple of years before she was appointed - but in the autumn of 2023 the moment came when Charlotte was asked to prepare a partner case. In this, you share your vision for KPMG, including what you would like to contribute with in relation to clients and management, among other things.

Therefore, Charlotte is also very clear about what she would like to focus on:

"An important thing on my agenda is to emphasise that you can have a job like mine even if, like me, you have a big family at home - in my case two children, two bonus children, a husband and a dog. It is possible to make it work and take on that responsibility, even if you sometimes have to leave at 2 pm because your child has a school concert. There has been a positive development in this area overall.”

In this context, Charlotte stresses the extreme importance of daring to stand up and show that it is possible:

There is a need for someone who dares to step up and do something to change things - not solely on behalf of themselves, but also on behalf of others. It's a good example to set, and you don't necessarily have to talk about it. It's just as much about walking the talk. Employees notice when you take the time to leave earlier for example. I like to set that example and be open about the fact that I'm leaving at 3pm because I have to pick up my children, and then schedule business meetings around that.

Don't want to look back and regret anything

It is no secret that being a partner in consulting can be a time-consuming job. However, Charlotte emphasises that the consulting industry is more flexible than many other industries:

"The consulting industry is actually a great place to balance work and personal life. There is a lot of flexibility in being a consultant in terms of when you work. Many people think the opposite about our industry. It is a real shame and something I would like to change people's views on."

So how does Charlotte make it work? For her, it's a year-long pact she has made with herself that often comes into play when she is unsure of how to prioritise:

Many people believe that you cannot combine family life and a job like mine. When I had my first child, I made a pact with myself that I would insist on being able to do both. I still have an ambition to achieve something in my career. Often, when I need to make a directional decision, I make it dependent on that pact.

In her spare time, Charlotte spends most of her time with her family. If time alone needs to be prioritised, she often goes for a run or walk with the dog - and this can easily be done during the workday:

"I have had countless of meetings while I have been walking the dog.” 

Charlotte Bendsøe
Charlotte Bendsøe

Development happens outside your comfort zone

Charlotte exudes an energy and drive that is contagious. When it comes to the question of how she continues to develop professionally, her drive is an essential part of the answer:

In the past, I've taken a lot of risks by assuming responsibility for projects or clients that are a bit outside my comfort zone, considering my background and my education. It helps to push me. I think it's incredibly exciting to throw myself into a project where I might only know I can master 80% of it, but at the same time believe that I can also manage the last 20%. It gives me a drive to know that the last 20% must succeed.

Therefore, Charlotte's best advice for women aspiring to leadership positions is to be brave and, most importantly, believe in yourself. Furthermore, Charlotte mentions how crucial it is to find the people who truly support you.

As a leader herself, Charlotte has two major focal points: being open and involving all employees - even when challenges arise. There is, however, also one more thing that she finds important to elaborate on when talking about leadership:

"One thing I think we rarely bring up in conversations about leadership is how to cope when faced with a challenge. For the most part, I think it's something you can practice with yourself. If you are aware of your own reaction when faced with challenges and know how to move on from them, you might be able to deal with the next one faster. As a leader, you will face many challenges, so training it is a good thing."

Thanks to Charlotte for sharing insights about herself and her inspiring career!