May 2022

If you want to make your mark in the world, you must meet other people

Lifelong learning differs from one person to the next. We interview life science professionals about the meaning of lifelong learning for them and what formed their path of development.

Diana Arsovic Nielsen is part our series of talks about learning and competence development. She is CEO of Danish Life Science Cluster, the activities of which are focused on bridge-building, innovation, and networking between businesses, knowledge environments and organisations within life science and welfare technology. To her, lifelong learning is about being curious and about daring to venture where you don’t know the answers.

Development in meetings with others

A hairdresser’s salon and summer school at the elite university, Stanford, are just some of the elements that have contributed to shaping Diana Arsovic Nielsen’s development path – a path where collaboration and dissimilarity have been recurrent themes. In her childhood home, she learned that if you want to make your mark in the world, you must meet other people. And it is precisely in those meetings that Diana Arsovic Nielsen has developed the most.

”My personal experience and my most important message as a leader is that development takes place when, in the meeting with other people, we open ourselves to being challenged by their world-view”, she says.

She holds a degree in architecture, which she has supplemented with a project manager education, a Bachelor of Commerce in organisation and management plus immersion in innovation at Stanford in California. In other words, formalised learning and continued education have played major roles in her development path.

Diana Arsovic, Atrium, Lifelong learning

…and around the dinner table

But, according to herself, it is her upbringing in an entrepreneurial family, characterised by two different cultures – Danish and Montenegrin – that has shaped her view of learning and development. Bouncing ideas around the dinner table, collaboration across generations, plus lending a hand in her father’s hairdresser’s business were natural elements in her daily life.

”Supplementary education is fine, but it is in the meeting with life that you develop your talents. From my earliest years, I was repeatedly told that if you want to achieve something, you must be prepared to meet other people. This applies across cultures, but also across professional boundaries and attitudes. Stepping into new universes, which is what you do when changing professional areas, has taken courage, but it is also in these situations I have learned the most”, Diana Arsovic Nielsen explains.

Personal development as a connecting thread

Although it’s in the meeting with new assignments and colleagues that Diana Arsovic Nielsen has found her way, continued education has also been important. In addition to providing new knowledge, it has also opened doors to new perspectives, networks, and collaborations.

”In connection with my project management education, I truly realised the power of assembling teams of individuals who think and reason differently. I was fascinated by this, and it inspired me to study organisation and management. Working with people and change management – the path of development we humans may follow when letting ourselves be challenged by one another’s view of the world – has become my connecting thread”, Diana Arsovic Nielsen continues.

Supplementary education as an implementation strategy

The Bachelor of Commerce in organisation and management provided leverage for working with innovation and development in hospital construction, and Design Thinking at Stanford provided a set of tools which became useful when innovation was to be incorporated in a municipal context.

”In my capacity as head of innovation in the Copenhagen municipality, I intended to develop an innovation tool focusing on implementation rather than development. How do we create changes rather than just majestic words? Here, supplementary education became an implementation strategy. We introduced 1,487 employees to various innovation courses which enabled them to actually create changes”, Diana Arsovic Nielsen explains.

Take a leap into life

When, at the age of 50, Diana Arsovic Nielsen’s father had to shelve his hairdressing scissors due to arthritis, this also became the beginning of an entirely new life. He changed his line of business, supplemented his education and opened a new business.

”My father’s will to find a way is a great inspiration to me”, says Diana Arsovic Nielsen, continuing: ”I see life as a decision tree with a wealth of opportunities, where no one path is more fitting than others. Education and the courage to take a leap into life will lead to new assignments and colleagues, and here you will find your way”, Diana Arsovic Nielsen concludes.

Inspired for more?

Diana Arsovic Nielsen is a teacher on our Masterclass in Innovation and business development within Life Sciences. Also, you are always welcome to contact us: We are enthusiastic about lifelong learning and, on a daily basis, we help life science professionals find the right competence development for their path of development.

Read the interview, ”Leave the comfort zone, and enter the learning zone”, with Peter Drøidal, Danish country manager and Head Nordic Market Access at Novartis plus chairman of the board of the Danish Association of the Pharmaceutical Industry (Lægemiddelindustriforeningen (Lif)).