"Being aware of the need for gender diversity, and overall diversity, is where it starts"

Discover Susanna Norum Lanz's unique journey as Intrum's Global Investment Director Markets. Leading a diverse team, she shares insights on investment decisions, challenges faced as a woman in finance, and her commitment to diversity and ethical values.

Susanna Norum Lanz
We need to encourage people to be conscious of diversity and inclusion in the decisions we make, and we also need to be celebrating successes from time to time...
Norum Lanz

Tell us about yourself and your role at Intrum

I am Swedish but have lived in different countries throughout my life, studying finance and business administration in both Sweden and Germany, focusing on banking and investment. I worked in investment banking in London for many years and joined Intrum in 2018.

I’m in charge of Investment across Intrum’s markets as part of the Chief Investment Officer’s team. That means I have a team of nine investment directors, some of whom cover more than one market, and they have teams of analysts and portfolio managers.

On a day-to-day basis, we review investments, prioritise and discuss new opportunities in investment committees. Some of the factors that influence investment decisions are return levels, track record in a specific market, contractual terms and of course fit with our current strategic priorities. There is a lot of liaison with investment managers and analysts about valuations and operational strategy. I also spend time reviewing how our investments are performing and whether there are any improvements we can make.

What inspires you in your career?

I like to contribute to the success of our business and to know that I can make a difference. The work we do in Investments is important, being one of Intrum’s two business lines. I also like variety - and things in Investments are changing all the time. At present, one of our main focuses is the transition to a more capital-light business model. As a first step, we are exploring a capital partnership, in which we would team up with another organisation to invest together. In the long run, the ambition is to become more like an asset manager. This is exciting and will represent a completely new way of working. Finally I enjoy the commercial and interactive parts of my work; collaborating with the teams and other functions across the company as well as external sellers and advisers.

What challenges have you faced as a woman in your career?

There aren’t many women in finance - there really are too few - but on a normal day I don’t even think about it, I just focus on what I do. Sometimes I’m in a meeting room and suddenly I realise I’m the only woman with eight men! . The finance industry is very male-dominated, and of course, as a woman you can sometimes be at a disadvantage as you may not be part of the inner club, and you don’t necessarily build the same friendships within work. When I come across other women in senior positions it can be easier to bond, although in the end it depends on the people you meet... It can also be an advantage to be a woman in finance because you stand out from the group.

Which career achievements make you proud?

I wouldn’t pinpoint a single event; what motivates me is adding value to the business and feeling that my contribution really takes the business forward. Of course, closing any large and important strategic transactions is always rewarding.

What values drive you in your role and how do they align with Intrum’s vision and mission?

Intrum’s values very much align with my way of working and thinking. Ethics and Empathy are important corporate values, but they are also obvious to me and all big firms should be working that way –in particular a debt collection business which is working with people in financial difficulties. Personally, my favourite Intrum value is Dedication, as that’s what makes people stand out and importantly, drives the business forward.

How do you promote and support inclusion and diversity in Intrum and beyond?

That’s something that comes very naturally. I value everyone’s opinions equally – dedication and contribution are what make the difference and gender is less important in a professional context – it’s always about the strong contribution individuals make. I think a balanced, diverse team has the best chances of succeeding, so if there is an opportunity to promote a woman, that’s a bonus to me. There are women working in the finance industry, but there could definitely be more.

Have you had a mentor or role model who has particularly influenced your leadership style?

At Intrum I’ve had more role models than in my previous career, which was much more client facing. There are several leaders here who have inspired me – I don’t want to single one out as different people have inspired me in different ways. I try to take the best from each of them.

How does this year’s IWD theme ‘inspire inclusion’ resonate with you?

International Women’s Day is an opportunity to pay attention to diversity and take a step back to think about what we do to promote this. The finance industry still has a lot more men than women, especially in leadership roles. Everyone can benefit from being more aware of this and understanding the benefits of diversity. We need to encourage people to be conscious of diversity and inclusion in the decisions we make, and we also need to be celebrating successes from time to time...

What are the most important next steps in improving gender diversity?

Being aware of the need for gender diversity, and overall diversity, is where it starts – making sure it’s not forgotten. Then we all need to act on it, ensuring we always work in that direction. It shouldn’t just be the person you go to football games with that you promote – you need to actively try to encourage all kinds of candidates. This applies across a business, encouraging greater diversity at junior levels as well as senior, sometimes helping more women feel confident and believe they can be part of a leadership team in future.