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Leading project driven business demands knowledge of the whole value chain

Andreas Bergvall has always been interested in technique and was determined to study at the Chalmers University of Technology. After his education, he was employed as a constructor at Rotork Sweden and discovered that technology was exciting, but that people and leadership were more tempting. In only two years he advanced to a role as Head of Development.

The common factor in Andreas’ career is the manufacturing industry and project-driven companies, often with EPC-contracts (Engineering, Procurement, Construction) and customized solutions. After Rotork 4 years as Head of HVDC-valves at ABB and 3 years Business Area Manager at Aker Solutions in Gothenburg followed. They were broad roles with responsibility for project lead, production, construction, purchase, and logistics. At Aker Solution the business area grew by 30% during the first six months, much thanks to the company’s growth strategy and focus on recruitment of the right competences.

”At ABB I was responsible for about 20 projects together with six direct reports and 170 co-workers in Sweden, India and China. I did not know the industry, but it was easy for me to get control over the situation very quickly and win trust. I know that the expertise lies within the organization and the individual team members. You have to give them freedom in their work and the right conditions to succeed.”

As he wanted to work more flexible, he took his first interim assignment as Program Manager at Consolis in 2017. The new owners, Bain Capital, had a strong change strategy and Andreas was engaged to create a common construction process for ten local companies in ten countries.

”All countries had their own ways of designing the different products. My assignment was to get them to work in the same way. It was tough to get everyone along, ten different cultures and ten different ways to work, but we managed to set a construction process which all the construction managers approved. My role as a change leader was important and my focus was to listen to them and find compromises.”

In 2018 Andreas was engaged as interim Production Manager at Quintus Technologies via Nordic Interim where he was responsible for montage, logistics, warehousing, and shipping. The regular Production Manager hat resigned, and the company needed a replacement urgently during the recruitment process. Four months became a year and a change journey. He did an analyse of the current situation and an analyse of the desired goal and identified 75 areas of improvement. Within six months they had closed 20 of these, recruited two new managers and made a change in the organization to manage continued growth.

”My manager was brave who put trust in me when I was only 24 years old – the leadership role felt natural to me.”

Today Andreas is an interim Regional Construction Manager within the infrastructure company IP Only. The assignment focuses on delivering fibre connections according to plan, costs, and time. It demands active project follow-up and the ability to analyse project budget and delivery plans. Andreas is also involved in the work of implementing new ways of working and developing the delivery process.

”Just as Consolis, IP Only is owned by a PE-company, EQT, who has expectations that we deliver according to our forecasts. It is a big challenge, but we are moving forwards. I am proud of my team!”

How do you lead a team in a complex change situation?

”To me, it is all about leadership and to set clear expectations. In my current role at IP Only I focus on project follow-up and to secure that we follow our prognoses. I need to make demands at the same time as I need to be humble and listen. I give my team a lot of freedom, but with responsibility. They know the industry better than I do.”

What is your experience of leading a new team on distance?

”I have not met most of my direct reports personally yet! But it exceeds my expectations, and I am fascinated by how well it goes even though we do not meet physically. What I miss is meeting my colleagues in an informal way between the meetings. It is hard to know how they are doing when I only see them on the screen. We have an employee system which is a great help. Every other week the team gives feedback, and I can see how they are doing and how they think that the projects move on. I receive both praise and critic, but that is the way it is when driving large changes, everyone does not like it.”

When is it important to create a PMO (Program Management Office)?

”A PMO gives the organization a vitamin injection and lift the project issues from the line managers so that they can focus on the business. The Program Office focuses on driving the projects forwards according to time plan and budget, with high quality and with the right competences. A PMO unburden the organization and makes resources available for other important matters.”

What is the advantage of engaging an Interim Manager to lead large projects?

”By doing so, the organizations get access to a competence which they lack internally or that they cannot make available. It is hardly ever about just managing a role, the interim drives improvement programs with a clear agenda. Interims are experienced leaders and provide the organization with stability.”