10 things I did not expect to experience as a Saab Graduate

The graduates summing up their year and their gained experiences at Saab.

1. Cooking for 150 orphans in the township of Saulsville
I could not imagine that I would travel to South Africa and cook for 150 orphans together with the graduate team. The support project is called Children on the Move and is initiated by Saab Grintek Defence. This experience has been one of the most incredible so far and has given us perspectives that we will bring with us for the rest of our lives.


Photo: Elisabeth Schröder, Stuart Angas, Tanika Hogan Marais and Victor Kohle with the children in Saulsville, Johannesburg.


2. Understanding the importance of networking and the concept of Just-in-Time
I never expected to gain so much subconsciously. Throughout all the networking, training, learning and development it was easy to see obvious growth in ourselves and in each other. After 14 months of this intensive schedule, it was also evident that we had evolved and developed in other ways entirely as a by-product of the program. We became much more worldly, in tune with global politics, the global influences that shape our society and most importantly how late you can arrive at the airport whilst still making your flight.


3. Meeting the Swedish Ambassador of South Korea
With a jet lag feeling similar to the hangover after the university exam parties, I arrived at our Saab office in Seoul on a Monday morning. The newly appointed Swedish ambassador was on tour in the City to introduce herself to Swedish companies. There she was, with an aura of intelligence and grace, walking into our office and shaking my hand. Slightly star struck, I thanked myself for making the decision of being a bit overdressed for my first day.


4. Seeing the Collins classed submarines at an Australian shipyard
When I got this position, I realized that the year to follow would be like nothing else I had ever encountered. My time abroad in Australia was for sure an amazing experience. Thanks to nice colleagues and a bit of luck, I got the opportunity to visit the Australian shipyard called ASC, a shipyard in charge of the maintenance of the Australian Collins classed submarines. Being able to visit one of the big halls and see one of the submarines on land was truly amazing and impressive. 


5. Attending the largest Army exposition in North America
I could never imagine that I would one day find myself attending the largest Army exposition in the capital of the world, Washington D.C., together with our American colleagues. Walking around among world leading technology, discussing business with the biggest players within the industry, as well as getting leadership advice from a former, extremely experienced, Commander was definitely an experience I did not see coming.


Photo: David Kovarik, Kevin McEntee, Brigitte Aungier, Ebba Nilsson and Johanna Nilsson summing up a day at AUSA in Washington D.C.


6. Exploring Brazil and learning about our biggest export order ever
We got the opportunity to visit Brazil and to learn more about the Gripen for Brazil deal, Saab’s biggest export order in history. In fact, one of Sweden’s biggest export orders ever. Close cooperation with our Brazilian colleagues increased our understanding of industrial cooperation, technology transfer, the business environment and culture. I could never imagine that I would experience this only a couple of months after graduating. Suddenly, all the years of studying were quite well invested after all.  


7. Understanding the complex business environment and the importance of culture
What I did not expect to learn this year has been how complex and politically influenced our business environment is. There is no guarantee that the company with the best products will win the deal. Another learning is how much company culture and leadership styles affect the organization. Most of all, I have learned a lot about myself and what kind of role in the organization I enjoy taking.


8. Getting media training in South Africa
I did not expect that we would get the opportunity to spend one week in South Africa, where we, among other interesting activities, had a full day of media training together with a camera operator and journalist who asked tricky questions. A very useful exercise!


9. Realizing the overwhelming level of knowledge within Saab
I never expected to realise the importance of having a good network in Saab. The people I met along this journey have been incredible. The knowledge we have within Saab is overwhelming and having a good network within the company is by far one of my most valued experiences. 


10. Getting friends for a lifetime
This year has been awesome in many ways, but getting to know your colleagues on this level might be the most valuable outcome of the programme. After all, it is all about people.

Photo: Johanna Nilsson, Stuart Angas, Tanika Hogan Marais, Johannes Schygge, Ebba Nilsson, Suzanne Birch, Emelie Håkansson, Elisabeth Schröder and Anna Ahlström.