The Swedish-Australian Notebook: Part II

Last time I started talking about some of the interesting (and fun) things that I have noticed while working in Sweden. Apparently I had a lot to talk about (it’s pretty exciting being over here), more than a single blog post can handle, and so this is now part two!

A weekend walk to Mälaren emphasised that Sweden is a beautiful country

The Audible Notification Principle

Saab Australia has a bell stuck on the wall of the cafeteria that is rung, usually during company information meetings, when work is won and a contract is signed. There are also bells like this all over Saab’s offices that are all used for the same purpose. Our very own Johan Emberg has even rung one himself when his project’s contract was signed and if you’re lucky he might share the photo with you. Maybe someone should try to document ad photograph all the bells in Saab’s offices?

Home Customers

It’s no secret that Saab does a lot of work in Sweden and Australia for the Swedish Armed Forces and the Australian Defence Forces, respectively. These are not Saab’s only customers by far but it is clear that for a lot of employees there is something special about working for your own country’s defence forces. Working in both countries makes it obvious what this means for Saab and how proud we are to serve our countries. We have a long history of understanding what the customer wants and needs and delivering on that. We understand their strengths and how to work with them to ensure the “boots on the ground” get the best capability they can. This is as true in Australia as it is in Sweden and represents how important our core value of Trust is to the entire company.

Our "home customers" are certainly not our only customers but we're incredibly proud to serve them both in Sweden and Australia

Informational and Nutritional Co-dependency
C2S, where I currently work, has a weekly “stand-up”, which is used to provide information about various things happening in the business unit and beyond. It provides good insight in to the organisation beyond your immediate project and team but importantly there is also fika and the good kind, buns full of carbohydrates and sugar. In Australia we have a monthly “company information meeting” on the last Friday of the month where you can learn a lot about what’s happening around the company and can ask our senior management questions (often about progress on a new building to accommodate our rapidly growing workforce or when the car park will get more parking spaces). There is also the Social Club BBQ. The Social Club BBQ is probably the highlight of each month, a wonderful time to enjoy good food and good company before seeing what you accomplish with the rest of your Friday before the weekend arrives. Clearly there is some important link between learning things and eating things!
Looking Internationally
To quote our annual report quickly “it is outside Sweden that Saab has the biggest opportunity to grow” and internally we have an overall employee focus on “becoming more international”. Sometimes people here in Sweden state this goal (half-)jokingly as “being less Swedish”, however I don’t think the responsibility belongs solely with the Swedes. Over here it is clear that Swedish armed forces are a very important customer and are “Saab’s main reference customer” (to quote our annual report again) but there are also a lot of international customers that everyone thinks about a lot. Historically, the Australian office was started to support the Australian customer and so they have been a major focus for Saab Australia for many years. We do contribute to international projects and have always had a strong relationship with New Zealand, but as one of Saab’s new Operational Countries I think Australia, along with the UK and the US, has an incredible opportunity to contribute to the continued international growth of Saab. We have a responsibility to make sure we also think internationally and that the products we develop for the Australian market can be integrated into the global Saab organisation and provided to Saab’s customers around the world.
The Social Structure Scale Factor
In Australia we have a social club that most people at the company are a part of. You pay a small annual fee and the social club committee organises regular social events, ranging from family fun days to go-karting, and Christmas drinks, as well as coordinating the monthly social club BBQs. There isn’t an equivalent organisation here in Sweden but instead the larger organisation has all sorts of sports groups, clubs, and competitions (including a board game group here in Järfälla that has welcomed my nerdy self). In some ways I miss the smaller, closer social club of Australia but there are definitely some nice advantages to working in a larger organisation, including having a gym on-site.
Working Together for Efficiency
One of the most exciting parts of being part of the Graduate program is getting to see all the amazing things that Saab is doing around the organisation. A theme that emerges from this is the cross-organisational value that we can continue to tap into by continuing to encourage collaboration and cross-business innovation. This is true for the various parts of Saab in Sweden but also makes me realise the opportunities we have in Australia. An example of where we do this well is in developing 9LV, Saab’s Naval Combat Management System. Development of the base product is split between Järfälla and Adelaide and we have a regular exchange of software developers to help support this collaboration. This provides good insight into how software development is going in both offices and helps us align our efforts and makes our developers more efficient as they get to know the local experts in both offices. We could do something like this in our other teams that are working on similar problems as well. The Combat System Integration project I am working on is very similar to many Australian projects. Our engineers sharing their experiences, tips, challenges, and successes is a great way to benefit all projects and improve our overall efficiency. (As mentioned, this is a great upside to the Saab Graduate Leadership Program, in case you still needed to be encouraged to apply.)
The Fiscal Nyquist Theorem
This is a quick final one but apparently everyone in Sweden is paid once a month on basically the same day? The 25th I think? Back home pay frequency and day varies from company to company and at Saab Australia we get paid every fortnight on a Thursday. This blew the mind of my co-workers. (A finance grad, who shall remain nameless, was also quick to point out that this improves your personal cash flow situation.)

I have really enjoyed finding my path here in Sweden, sometimes literally and sometimes metaphorically
That, in too many words, is what I have noticed so far in Sweden and at Saab. With that, it is time to say goodbye for now. Hopefully some of you reading may apply for the Saab Graduate Leadership Program and get your own opportunity to observe Saab around the world!