To move between different industries is often regarded as difficult, but Åsa Svedenheim, Interim Manager within international sales and marketing, knows that it brings benefits such as experience and knowledge from various types of processes that are applicable in many businesses. New perspectives, an outside-and-in-view and a unique competence gives new energy to an organization.
Åsa is results- and customer-oriented and driven by problem-solving. Her experience in international management roles makes it easy for her to move between the strategic and the operational. Her strengths lie in her expertise within complex sales and digital solutions, and the ability to apply these in various companies and industries.
Her career began as a trainee at Ericsson, and during her more than 20 years there, she got the possibility to lead and build businesses in both Switzerland and the USA as well as run many pioneering businesses in new segments.
“It was a messy but incredibly educational period as the IT bubble burst. We had to go back to basics and find out what the real customer value was.”
Leading successful changes attracted her and she wanted to apply her knowledge in other companies. She left Ericsson and got her first interim assignment at Siemens, supporting them in their digitalization.
“It was exciting to see how much of my experiences and my toolbox that was applicable here. I could quickly analyze the situation and contribute from the first day. My next step was to move on from the big to the very small, start-ups within KTH Innovation.”
In 2019 she came via Nordic Interim to Olympus in the role of Sales and Business Unit Manager for the largest business area, Medical Endoscopy. She was also part of the Swedish management team. The group had gone through a turbulent time with many changes on the personnel side. In the assignment it was important to focus on leadership, to gain trust and keep the teams together while reaching the challenging sales goals. New salespeople were recruited, new processes were set up and the teams were given the right conditions to succeed within their areas of responsibility. When Covid broke out, they ended up in a whole new situation. How should they meet the customers and doctors and demonstrate the products?
“We combined the team’s expertise about Olympus’ customers and products and my experience from working digitally to quickly solve how we could find new ways to demonstrate the products and educate customers in a functional way. We put together teams of salespeople and technical experts who supported the customers, and it turned out really well! I could use my knowledge in complex, technology-heavy sales combined with innovation. In addition, we saved a huge amount of travel time and costs by having digital meetings.”
Today, Åsa has an interim assignment at Brighter, a listed company within innovative digital solutions for diabetes treatment, as Global Head of Sales and Marketing. This assignment also focuses on leadership, sales, and go-to-market, but this time in a smaller growth company. This means completely different types of challenges and Åsa says that the most fun part of working as an Interim Manager is to enter new companies with new challenges.
“Once again, I get to use my skills in leadership, business development and change management in a context where I can also benefit from my skills from the telecom industry. It feels fantastic to work with innovative digital healthcare solutions, an area that is needed and useful! The combination of leadership, business development, sales, marketing, and a technical understanding has been extremely successful.”
Åsa’s view on leadership
“I have the advantage of working close to the customers with sales. This makes it easy for me to explain to the team that if you do not have a working business and customer focus, the business has no raison d’être. It is important to clarify the goals and ensure that everyone understands where we are going. Different skill levels must take responsibility for their areas. The organization knows their products best and my role is to support them and give them the right conditions to reach the set goals. I do not give them the answers, they must come up with the solutions themselves. As a leader, you must dare to make demands, be clear about what you expect and trust the team and their solutions and specialist skills. Ask yourself what the company needs to succeed? Goals, clarity, personal responsibility and feedback are the key to a working business and committed employees.”
What value does an Interim Manager add to an organization?
“To hire an experienced person to solve the problem is a much faster solution than to use an internal resource or to wait for a permanent recruitment. An interim is loyal to the assignment and the client, you do not have to be liked by everyone in the organization in the same way as in a permanent role. As an interim line manager, I am part of the team, have the mandate to push through the changes and I feel a great commitment.”