“To learn, develop skills and boost your knowledge doesn’t only belong in traditional classrooms,” says Tanja Schjellerup. She believes that everyone should learn the fundamental skills, but she also thinks that instead of “equal curricula” and expectations that everyone should learn “the same,” everyone should focus on increasing individual competencies. She goes on to say that the whole educational sector and system may benefit from more flexible learning opportunities, beginning at a young age.
Tanja has worked in education for many years and has witnessed pupils “falling into the grey zone,” risking becoming drop-out students, mostly because they do not flourish in standard school limits and, at the same time, do not belong in a school for children with special needs.
Tanja had been brainstorming ideas for a solution for these students since 2016, and in 2019, she slowed down her work in her sole proprietary company and shifted focus to the preparations for a new business to come. Skolen Online became public in the fall of 2019 and established itself as Denmark’s most creative online school, where the Skolen team combines online technology with offline reality; an online environment that provides online learning opportunities not just for the students described above, but also for students living abroad, home schoolers, and anybody else who needs a flexible path through the educational system.
Tanja spent her early twenties in the private market as a salesperson, as well as 6 years in the logistics industry for DHL, initially with customer service in Ljusdal, Sweden, operations and logistics in Aberdeen, Scotland, and as a key account manager in Albertslund a suburb to Copenhagen, Denmark. In 2005, she made the decision to explore a new prospective career route and began her studies as a teacher while also working as a substitute teacher and attending her classes. She received her diploma in the summer of 2009.
Tanja began her studies at DPU, which is part of the University of Aarhus in Denmark, in the fall of 2009. Because she had two sons between 2011 and 2012, her final examinations were postponed, and she finished in 2014 with a Master of Arts (Education) in Philosophy of Education. She has also followed and finished two single academic courses at Copenhagen Business School online via Smart Learning, one in Project Management 2018/2019 and one in Experience Economy in 2019.
In December 2019, Tanja was certified as an Education Diplomat – 5L Leader via Childhood Education International. Currently, Tanja is finishing her capstone project and is expecting to graduate in spring 2022 from my EMBA studies at Quantic School of Business & Technology.
Tanja has been a business owner since 2010, but this was only a couple of days per week next to her studies and working as a teacher, at grade school as well as, at one point, teaching a class in philosophy for adults. She is running her first business as a sole proprietorship – first as a consultant arranging meetings for other businesses and then transforming it into ‘Philosophies,’ a place for companies and organisations to book speakers and consultants. She recalls, “It was while searching for an online solution during spring 2019 that I found the solution which turned into Skolen Online, which was founded as and is being run as a limited liability company.”
‘Being a Leader’
An entrepreneur by heart and mind with an innovative and flexible working style, Tanja enjoys being with people but prefers working in her own space primarily.
“People tell me that I’m quite the same inside and outside of the workplace,” says Tanja. She needs a WHY for what she does and a purpose for why she does it, be it within the workplace or the more private areas of her life. Tanja is thriving, being proactive and a visionary, searching for possibilities, needs for improvement and ideas. She says, “Confident in my abilities, self-reliant and trust that I’m able to handle anything that comes my way. I’m a logician and a debater with an unquenchable thirst for knowledge, and I have a hard time resisting an intellectual challenge.” Also she states a firm trust in surrounding herself with people she trust will do the job that is needed to be done.
Tanja strives for recognition for her actions as well as for the entire team, without whom she would not be able to function-and she is humble when she has received awards and nominations, as well as when she has been invited abroad to attend a conference and a recognition session to receive an award as ‘Outstanding Leader.’ Outside of work, she attempts to spend time with those who mean the most to her, her family and close friends. She states, “When I need to slow my mind, I prefer a walk in the woods or by the ocean. Sometimes with my best mates—either together or online via mobile. Other times I tend to listen to music or watch sci-fi or fantasy.”
Pushing Own Limits
There has been a shift in elementary education toward an understanding that pupils of this age may learn through online classes and tasks. Tanja makes connections, expands the network, and seeks out possible co-operational partners to keep the firm steady and growing. She makes certain that the team thrives as much as possible. She also delegated responsibility to team members who were better suited for the job than she is. She opines, “The happiest part must be the check up and work with our future delighters—especially the innovative part that adds value and new thoughts to something old.”
Tanja concentrates on expanding her own knowledge and abilities by questioning and studying material, and she recognises that she will never know everything, which is OK because she is surrounded by those who do.
To be an effective leader, you must be able to adapt to unexpected developments. Tanja believes that a leader should not be scared to ask questions such as “how can we best get the task done?” rather than try to figure it all out on their own. She says that you listen to the thoughts and ideas of your team members and encourage them to be inventive. She adds, “Actively search for people brighter than yourself and trust in their ability to make it work. Being able to admit mistakes and use it as opportunities to learn; Stand by decisions and still be flexible to enhance co-ordinations to make it possible for a goal to be reached.”
Tanja observes as many hurdles as she may expect on her path to achievement. She believes that the most crucial must be some of the pre-hand-conclusions she has encountered over the years, that because she is a female, she must require more assistance in sketching and launching concepts and ideas, as well as establishing the firm.
Tanja’s advice to all aspiring leaders is to believe in their ideas and learn to view failure as a friend who can help them find the best answers. She asserts, “Do not stand on the shoulders of other female leaders (only) but stand on the shoulders of those entrepreneurs and leaders that laid the steps for anybody to take on the role of a leader – no matter their gender. Find your core talents, trust them, and use them to boost your role as a leader.”