On November 24th Mercuri International will be hosting The Sales Conference 2022, the Nordic region’s largest event for B2B executives, offering guidance and insights for sales and marketing leaders as we all assess the last year and look to the future. With five great keynote speakers and thought-provoking presentations, the event promises to be truly unmissable.

In this series of blog posts, we’ll be talking to several of the most prominent attendees and discovering their views on where we are now – and, more importantly, where we’re heading.

Elin Hauge is a futurist and artificial intelligence expert with a background in mathematics, physics, and business. She’s a fascinating speaker who provides actionable takeaways that give pragmatic insights into (among other things) the way that AI can provide real impact upon business and organizational growth – but also convey a message of caution.

This digital transformation of which I have been such a strong proponent, for so many years, is leaving behind a trail of alarming environmental problems. And the more that I dig into the flip side of digital, the more I become concerned about the price that our planet is paying for our habits, ambitions, and addictions.

Elin Hauge

You talk about the flip side of digital at the sales conference – why do you think this topic is relevant for sales and marketing today?
We tend to think that anything digital is sustainable, because data is just floating wirelessly around in the air. In sales and marketing we collect a lot of data. Actually, 90% of the data currently collected on this planet is never used again after three months. It becomes digital waste, with a very tangible environmental footprint. In addition, sales and marketing functions have a significant responsibility for how data is used. For example, are customers being treated fairly and without bias – and are we using personalization for the best for our customers and not for manipulative reasons?

Do you think leaders in sales and marketing devote enough time to learning and professional development? If not – why not?
No, most of us don’t, in general. Technological development is moving fast, and to stay relevant for an entire career of perhaps 50 years, upskilling and reskilling is essential. But that requires dedicated time, focus, and mental energy, and it is so much easier to go with the flow of the everyday hustle and blame lack of time.

What are you most proud of in your career?
That I have upskilled and reskilled myself continuously for 25 years, and will continue to do so for the next 25 as well. There is no way that I’m going to become “fifty, fat, and forgettable”. At 45, I consider my career to be at an early stage.

What’s been the most challenging moment so far – and how did you deal with it?
That must have been about a decade ago, when I had my second day in the role as sales manager in an insurance company, and the internal investigator called me and told me I had a very serious harassment case in my team. I had to deal with the perpetrator, the victim, and all the rest of the team, plus the union and HR. I remember standing in the restroom at work, looking into the mirror, and reminding myself that I had somehow survived the passing of both my parents, and so I would survive this as well.

You have had an impressive career – what is your best career tip for other leaders in sales and marketing?
When faced with challenges, stand tall in your integrity and do what is right in the bigger picture, even when that has a personal price tag. Then you can look back at your career and with honesty say that you did your best.

What is the best thing about The Sales Conference?
The Sales Conference is a very professionally organized event where the organizers dare to think differently about the content. They manage to attract some very interesting speakers with fresh and inspiring ideas and perspectives.

The theme for this year’s conference is ‘The New Era of Trust’ – what does ‘trust’ mean to you in business terms, and how do we go about earning it?
Personally, it is about whether I trust the companies to which I give my personal data to handle that data with my best interest in mind, and not abuse it for their financial gain. From a professional perspective, the issue of trust is very much about transparency. This is particularly important with respect to the application of artificial intelligence. The coming AI Act from the European Commission will provide a solid foundation for how to work with data and algorithms to protect the rights of the individual.

Tell us something that can’t be learned from reading about you…
My father was a survivor from the German WWII concentration camp Sachsenhausen. War history has been a part of my everyday life since I was born. He taught me the importance of standing up for freedom and fairness. He often quoted a line from a poem by the Norwegian poet Arnulf Øverland “You must not tolerate so sincerely the injustice that does not affect yourself!” I think that is such a powerful and timeless reminder.

Elin is just one of the great speakers joining us at The Sales Conference 2022. Make sure that you don’t miss out on what promises to be a fascinating event and buy your tickets now!