Since 2019 Pernilla Nissler is the CEO of Blocket, the largest online marketplace and a key facilitator within the circular economy in Sweden. With a growing competition, they are now standing in the middle of a growth journey affecting both leadership and working culture. We met with her to talk about her view on leadership.
Raised within the telecom- and gaming industry, she has extensive experience from fast-moving products and tech industries. Her career started within Nokia where she was, among other roles, Program Manager Next Generation of Mobile Gaming, placed in Canada. After Nokia, 11 years at Tele2 followed, where she worked within sales and customer services until her last role as CCO/COOTele2 Business Sweden. “My most exciting journey within Tele2 was the acquisition of the Danish company TDC B2B-business. That was amazing!”
“People do as you do, not as you say. As a leader, it is important to be a good role model. Everything starts with the leadership.”
In 2019 she was recruited as CEO to Blocket, the largest online marketplace in Sweden. With 25 years on the market and 200 employees, they are now present in 20 countries.
I’m a people-driven leader
Pernilla describes herself as a people-driven leader. She emphasizes the importance of KPI’s, follow-ups and numbers, but the most important thing is that all the employees feel motivated. “A strong leadership leads to engagement which leads to great results. You build strong leadership by living the company’s values, that is immensely important.” Their value-driven leadership is evident during Covid-19. “On the 11th of March we were told that everyone who had the possibility should work from home, and one day later our whole organization worked from home, the readjustment happened very fast. We take responsibility by working from home to diminish crowded public transports so that the people who cannot stay at home can travel safely. The leadership is important here, as people do as you do, not what you tell them to do. As a manager you must lead by example. Everything starts with the management.”
Performance and results must be achieved, but it is not the ‘what’, but the ‘how’, that is important to work long-term. Pernilla says that it is crucial that everything that has with leadership to do, starts from the top. To Blocket it is important that the employees take care of their health when working from home, having lunch breaks, walks outside and they have also increased the time for health care/wellness. Also, here the managers must set a good example, communicate and check-in with their subordinates. “I take many walk-and-talks myself!”
The growth process
Blocket is now in the middle of an exciting growth process and is also celebrating 25 years this year. “We have had the advantage of operating on a market with little competition. Now we have many competitors, such as Tradera, but also small start-ups. But this makes us better as we have to step up our game all the time to continue our growth journey.” Her assignment is to secure growth and add even more value to the users and clients, and to add more functions.
In a growth phase, change is inevitable. “Blocket was already purpose-driven as I started as CEO, but the company didn’t live by it’s values. We have worked very hard to clarify our values and show that we can lean against them in the decisions we make. The key has been to explain what we stand for in a very clear way. Many employees didn’t know what it meant to work with values, and in the end, it is all about lifting the good behaviours.”
The new generation has different demands
In an organization with many young employees, it becomes clear that the new generation has totally different demands compared to the co-workers of yesterday. “The new generation is much cooler than we are. It will be much more movement and they will change jobs more often. A value-driven organization is a must. They will look for companies that do something good for the community.” Pernilla says that Blocket has a considerable community engagement, for example Blocket Bostad (Residence) which mediates tenancies in an easy way, and they work actively with inclusion and equality. “There is a large rotation of employees and that makes it even more important to have a culture where you directly feel as one in the team. You must have fun at work and feel like a Blocketeer.”
The growing movement on the labour market will lead to an immense growth of people working with interim roles and gigs, Pernilla says. “More and more people are interested in interim roles, it is a fantastic way to work between two employments, to test a new industry or just as a new way of working.”