Imagine finding yourself living in a new country, on the other side of the world from your family, and then being faced with a life-changing diagnosis. What would you do? How would you find the support you need to face this challenge?
Far from an uncomfortable hypothetical situation to contemplate, this is a reality that Nynne Toft Rasmussen recently had to face.
“In May 2021, I was diagnosed with aggressive breast cancer. I had just turned 28, moved to another country, and started a new job.”
Due to COVID-19 restrictions, Nynne’s family back in Denmark were unable to fly to Perth to provide their support. Having been in her role as the Lead for Operating Model and Business Planning at South32 for only a few weeks, Nynne felt anxious about what might happen next.
“I was diagnosed with cancer, having been with the company for less than two months. But people of all levels – even senior leaders– reached out personally to help, and they all made good on their promises. That’s when I realized I had joined a great organization of compassion and competence.”
We asked Nynne to share how South32 supported her through her experience.
Would your leaders be this empathetic?
Nynne says she wasn’t nervous about telling her manager about her diagnosis because she knew she had “great empathetic leaders”. And she was right to feel reassured as, immediately after sharing her news, her manager set about “mobilizing any help she could think of” both within South32 and outside of the company.
“I felt relieved to know that I was not going to be left without support and that South32 would do everything they could to help.”
Despite being with the company for only a short time, South32 supported Nynne to make sure she took the time off she needed. Then, during the times she felt well enough, she was able to work flexible hours and complete “tasks that could be managed while on chemo”.
Does your employer truly live the values they put on the website?
It wasn’t only from her management team at South32 that Nynne received continued support. Nynne says even employees she hadn’t met before pitched in and made her feel like she wasn’t alone.
“Everyone at South32 offered their help in any way they could. They established a food roster for me and took turns bringing me food since I was too weak to cook and constantly nauseated – most of these kind people did not even know me at the time!”
Such a demonstration of goodwill, support, and practical assistance – especially towards a new employee – makes Nynne feel proud to work for a company like South32:
“I am incredibly grateful to be part of a culture where everyone, from the executive leadership to graduates, cared enough to personally drop by with food or help, even if they did not know me. It was a great display of truly living our values of care and trust.”
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Would your employer maintain such positivity?
After undergoing surgery and chemo, Nynne is now feeling hopeful for the future and is back at work full time.
Something she urges everyone to do when considering a new position is to take time to research the company and the people you will be working for. For Nynne, a positive working environment is the key to feeling fulfilled and appreciated at work.
“Be selective of who you choose to work with – good leaders and teams are more important than anything else.”
As well as supporting her through her treatment, South32 demonstrates their continued support for Nynne and others through fundraising and campaigning:
“South32 increased their efforts in raising breast cancer awareness and has raised a considerable sum for research.”
Would your employer continue to nurture your ambition?
From hearing Nynne’s story, it’s abundantly clear she is a woman full of ambition, determination and compassion, and she feels she has found her fit at South32:
“I am proud to be a part of a high-performing team that delivers exceptional work, but never compromises on our values.”
When it comes to her own career journey, Nynne continues to re-evaluate her progress to ensure she’s on the right path and readjusts her targets along the way. Through checking in with yourself as you progress along your professional path, Nynne says you will set yourself on the road to success:
“When you reach positive outcomes, adjust the goals you set out initially. Do things right and push for excellence.”
Describing herself as “adventurous, driven, curious, and creative,” she encourages others to adopt a similar approach when it comes to life and their career.
“Work in different countries – it broadens your horizon and your understanding of others. Work in different industries – you learn to flex and adapt and will recognise patterns to solve.”
It is an ethos she encourages in her team too and feels motivated by seeing her team “challenge the status quo for the better”.
So, after the ‘hardest year of your life’ how would you feel about your employer?
Having been through a truly testing time that would have pushed anyone to their limits, we asked Nynne to reflect on how the support from South32 made her feel:
“South32 went above and beyond in helping me through my cancer journey. I am lucky to have had a great group of friends and colleagues to help me through chemo and surgeries, making the hardest year of my life a little bit brighter.”