How did I get here?

Jenny Frisk is one of our Head of Production in Linköping, Sweden. The journey there was both winding and variegated – and it wasn't navigated by means of a direct and deliberate career plan. As Jenny puts it: "Technology and people are my driving forces".

Making a career. What does this make you think of? A go-getter with clear career goals? An individualist who is driven by ideas of advancing, becoming the boss and gaining power? Or perhaps more in tune with Jenny – "for me it's all about personal development, that I better myself for the betterment of the company"? Jenny prefers to call this 'competence planning' instead of career planning. She thinks more in terms of "what do I want and what can I contribute?" than "where am I headed?"

An ebullient Jenny Frisk talking about Saab and her career. It all started in the year 2000. She explains, draws and writes on the whiteboard, while fervently gesticulating.

"A specific incident signalled the starting point of my journey to becoming a manager," explains Jenny. "When I was on maternity leave, I received a call about a vacant managerial position, which the workshop manager thought I should apply for. An employer was calling me while I was on maternity leave asking me to apply for a managerial position?! I felt like I had been noticed and it roused something in me."

Jenny didn't get the position. Instead, her springboard came in the form of SPU – an internal programme directed towards self-examination, planning and development. There she received confirmation that "you would fit in well in a leadership role".

"After that, the idea of working in a managerial role really took hold. I was able to discover who I am, and to concentrate on myself and my driving forces." 

Over the 2011/2012 period, Jenny participated in SMK – Saab's mentor programme for women. She received a supportive mentor and started working at Saab Academy, the unit within Saab responsible for the training of leaders and talents. In 2013 Jenny applied for – and secured – a managerial position in the Engineering section of the MRO (Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul) business unit within Saab´s business area Support and Services. 

"Saab gave me a chance," says Jenny. "The head of the department dared to employ me even though I had never held a senior position before. And I've truly gone 'all in'. I've done my homework and have focused on the task at hand. As manager, I'm not required to understand every minute detail, but I must be knowledgeable and inquisitive in the things I do. Only through my employees am I able to lead."

Technology and people – Jenny's driving forces – are both plentiful at Saab. She draws on the whiteboard and explains:

"Difficult tasks are either complicated or complex. Complicated tasks are tasks in which I have to dig deep and eventually uncover one right answer. As an engineer, it is immensely gratifying to work with complicated tasks. Be that as it may, people are my principal interest. I am drawn to complex tasks; tasks that don't have a straightforward answer."

Technology and people allow her to grow and develop. This is important for everybody, on all levels.

"I encourage internal mobility. To give employees a chance to develop and tackle new challenges, and to provide opportunities to undertake new tasks in a new area in the company. I've been there myself and I know what it can lead to."