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Birna Einarsdóttir

MBA 1993

Alumni 100
CEO at Íslandsbanki

In 2008 Iceland's financial system collapsed and Birna Einarsdóttir was asked to step forward as CEO of Íslandsbanki.

To get to the heart of the problem, she knew the insights of those on the ground would be vital. From retail assistants to investment bankers, she brought all employees together to build a new strategy.

As a result, 70% of the Íslandsbanki loan book was restructured. Her leadership marked a turning point for the business.

As if balancing the books wasn't enough, Birna also balanced pay between men and women by 2015. Thanks to her subsequent campaigning, Iceland made the gender pay gap illegal in 2018.

How does it feel to be selected for the Alumni 100 list?

"I am honoured by the selection to this distinguished list."

What made you choose to study at the University of Edinburgh Business School?

"I was impressed by the prestigious track record of the University of Edinburgh Business School in developing effective business leaders."

What are your memories of studying at the Business School?

"Great group of people, both faculty and students, and a lot of new ideas surfaced for me during my time there."

What key thing that you learnt at the Business School do you still rely on today?

"To focus on the things that matter the most and to actively delegate tasks to my colleagues."

Proudest work-related achievement to date?

"Creating a new Íslandsbanki after the financial crisis in 2008."

What's the one thing you think current students need to develop or learn before entering the modern workplace?

"You need to have a flexible mindset and be willing to work hard to achieve your goals!"

Fight for your beliefs. Empower others. Become a leader.