When Frida Rustøen joined IESE Business School she wasn’t enamored by the idea of being an entrepreneur, she just stumbled upon it. The IESE MBA equipped her with the confidence and business knowledge to throw herself at a venture and make it work.
It’s one of the ways the MBA shaped her personally, as well as her career, she explains.
The business is Mingl, a software company that makes it easier for people to exchange and organize contact information. Frida is the cofounder and COO. She cofounded the business with Daniel Fossum and Sindre Seppola, who are Mingl’s CEO and CTO respectively.
She randomly bumped into Daniel at a conference and after one conversation the idea was incepted. She knew she wanted to be a part of it, and the rest is history.
Why I chose an MBA
Frida began her career in finance, after a graduate degree in economics from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology. Her first role after graduating was in investment banking.
It was an interesting role, she says, but there was something missing. She wasn’t doing what she was passionate about, and knew she had to make a change.
Frida says she chose an MBA because she didn’t know exactly where her career path would take her, but knew she wanted to broaden her business understanding and knowledge.
“I wanted to learn more about the softer side, coming from a very theoretical, finance and economics background. I wanted to learn about leadership, operations, marketing, psychology; that was my motivation to get an MBA.
“Also, what better way to get that inspiration than to study with a bunch of people who have work experience from all over the world, different backgrounds and education.”
She initially looked at studying an MBA in the US. When she was younger, she lived in California while her mum completed her PhD—she says her mum’s ambition and hard work has inspired her own determination—and was looking to return to the US for business school.
After extensive research though, the IESE MBA prevailed.
The school’s diverse student body stood out to Frida—the current class is made up of 85% international students and over 55 nationalities—and when she had conversations with the admissions team she felt a connection with the values emanating from the school.
Learning to run a business
The IESE MBA presented Frida with an opportunity to learn more about herself—she says her favorite class was Personality, Self-Leadership, and Happiness.
Though it would be a couple of years after graduating in 2016 that Mingl was founded, the MBA gave Frida the confidence she needed to eventually run a business.
When she bumped into her friend serendipitously, she was working as the head of Nordea Ung, with Nordea, in Oslo. Her friend was working for a company that created digital business cards. They decided to spin that idea off and create Mingl—three months later the company was launched in Oslo.
“I’ve lived in various different countries and know people in a lot of places, and value the network and people I know,” she says. “For me networking has always been important, and I wanted to be a part of Mingl because of that.”
The MBA gave her the broader perspective of how to run a business. She says she now understands a little about all the parts that make up a company, and how they interlink, adding that business school also gave her the feeling that it’s possible to succeed on the journey as an entrepreneur.
So, what’s life like as an entrepreneur?
“It’s busy in a very different way than working for a bigger company […] as you are always doing so many different things,” Frida explains.
“It’s very hard at times to see what you are actually creating. It’s all about still being able to pat yourself on the back and say you’ve had a good day even if it doesn’t feel very productive.”
It has been a challenge Frida has embraced since cofounding the company in 2018—though she is now looking for her next big career move. She says taking that leap was one of the biggest challenges she’s overcome.
“I think for me it’s been about realizing that you can make changes. I think making the big decision to go and get my MBA, it’s a decision that involves a lot of risk, as you are leaving something that feels safe and you are wandering into unchartered territory and don’t know what to get out of it.
“I think every time I go outside of my comfort zone and make a big change in my life I know it’s risky, but next time I do that it’ll be a little bit easier.”
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