Entrepreneur Nora Bavey found herself “chasing the Nordic dream” after her family fled the war in Iran in 1986, relocating to Sweden when she was a small child. Through Unitech, the company she founded, Bavey seeks to expand access to technical education for underrepresented people, particularly citizens of the Nordic countries [Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden] with foreign backgrounds like her own.
Recognizing the need to connect investors with minority founders, Bavey is a partner in Unconventional Ventures, designed to make change by nurturing and representing a broad pool of international talent. Speaking to PMI during the Virtual Experience Series (VES), she talked about working on projects that can make a positive impact on social good, and the moonshot idea she would like to make reality in this exclusive interview for PM Network®.
PMI: What is the most challenging project you are managing right now?
Bavey: My most challenging project right now is navigating the launch of the Nordics’ first-ever digital accelerator focusing on underrepresented founders [a platform to support entrepreneurs and connect them with investors]. It has proven to be extremely challenging due to the range and diversity of stakeholders, but also because there's no blueprint for this project; no one has ever done it before. It's really exciting to navigate it, as well as trying to maintain a multitasking version of myself—I truly believe that I can, but in reality, it is not always possible. So, I would say that it is a continual challenge. But, at the same time, it has the potential to make an incredible impact.
PMI: What's the most significant project you've ever worked on?
Bavey: A few years ago, I was responsible for project management for one of the bigger tech companies in the world. I was engaged in the planning for sending its employees to a remote conference. This happened to coincide with the eruption of a volcano in Iceland, which disrupted air travel and impacted the whole trip. So, I had to manage to get 12,000 people traveling during a time when traveling had mostly stopped—kind of like the pandemic that we are now experiencing—and get everyone to five different destinations within 48 hours. But that's a very long story.
PMI: While working on the project above, what was a key lesson learned?
Bavey: One of the key lessons that I’ve learned and still hold on to, that applies to any project, is the real value of communication and the importance of teams being able to support each other and ask each other questions. Trying to solve problems together, rather than trying to solve them alone, is one of the most important lessons that I take with me in all aspects of life.
PMI: Could you share one piece of advice to help our community manage projects better?
Bavey: If I would share one piece of advice, it would be to really engage in more knowledge transfer. Within our networks and communities, we have so many people who we interact with who can support us with their knowledge and competence. And if we're able to share it between us, I really believe that it will also create better outcomes for a better culture. It would just be a better work experience in general.
PMI: What is your moonshot idea that you would love to assemble a team around and make reality?
Bavey: It’s funny that you should ask me that question, because I’ve been thinking about how we can create more access to education. My moonshot idea is to make education free everywhere in the world. I kind of started my career by focusing on education and I haven't let it go. At the moment, however, I'm focused on trying to make it possible through the support of investment capital. Making education accessible and free is my ultimate moonshot idea that I would love to solve for the world someday.
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