A career with Unit4 –
When did you join Agresso/Unit4 and what impressions did you have back then?
I joined in 1999. At the time I worked for a small Swedish company with about 90 people that was acquired shortly after by Agresso. I joined as Junior Consultant which was my second job and just happened to fall into the IT sector – I hadn’t specifically considered a career in IT. I had limited skills back then but at the time there was big demand for our technology and integrated systems. Many companies didn’t have full accountancy systems and everything was still paper based.
What was happening in the industry then?
It was the year 2000 and the industry was going crazy with everyone afraid of the millennium bug and what it might mean for their business. The years following were tough. The dotcom bubble burst, specialized consulting resources were hard to find and salaries were lower than they had been before Y2K.
How ambitious were you?
That depends on who you ask. Some colleagues say I boasted about aiming for a senior management position. I remember just being happy to have a job at the time.
What experiences stand out that have shaped your career?
Moving into sales was a big step for me. I remember a meeting with my consultancy manager when he, together with the sales director at that time, asked me to become a key account manager for CROM customers. That was a special day, I was over the moon. Sales is where I started to excel. The day was made more memorable as it was the day my father died. It was a defining moment for the rest of my life. I worked mostly with existing customers between 2001 and 2004. Our task was to move as many as we could across to the Business World ERP system. We kept the customers happy and there were a number of big customers with complex upgrades. Others in the business wanted to focus only on new business sales, but I loved working with the customers we had. We upgraded 70% of the bigger customers successfully and it taught me an important lesson – that you shouldn’t always follow everyone else.
What key elements have contributed to your success?
I’d say being honest, hard-working and fun. I do what I say I’ll do and I work closely with my team and make an effort to support colleagues. It’s important to be nice to people. I became Managing Director of the Nordic region, one of the largest within Unit4, two years ago and have been the MD of Sweden for five years. I didn’t get there by pushing my weight around and barging past people. I put a lot of my success down to the people I’ve worked with along the way. It’s important to have the right managers that believe in you. Mine coached me and told me my faults, one of the main ones being that I work too much. Also your co-workers are extremely important. The ones I have had the privilege to work with across the global business but especially in the Nordics are great and I am proud to work side by side with them!
How has the industry changed?
It’s a much tougher industry for vendors today, particularly for new recruits just starting out. We demand more from them and they demand more from us. The industry tempo has increased enormously – the pace of change is rapid. Mobile technology has changed how we work too. There’s more flexibility to work around other elements of your life. Deals were signed by fax not too long ago. You had to be in the office to work. The downside for people now is that people burn themselves out – the pressure of being constantly available is too much for some people. It is important for people to manage their time well. It requires a new type of leadership on both sides. Everyone gets 24 hours in a day, so use them wisely.
How have you changed and what have you learned along the way?