Three top ranking Saab women

This year, Swedish business journal Veckans affärer's list of the 125 most powerful women in Swedish industry includes three Saab managers: Lena Olving, Gunilla Fransson and Marie Bredberg.

Gunilla Fransson, Lena Olving and Marie Bredberg at Swedish business journal Veckans affärer's event "125 most powerful women in Swedish industry"

Image: Gunilla Fransson, Lena Olving and Marie Bredberg at Swedish business journal Veckans affärer's event "125 most powerful women in Swedish industry". Photo: Eric Roxfelt.


For the 13th year in succession, Veckans affärer (a Swedish business journal) has ranked the 125 most powerful women in Swedish industry on the basis of position, financial responsibility, sector and trend (potential). Lena Olving took first place in last year's list and has been seen as a role model for women in industry over the year.

Lena Olving, Chief Operating Officer and Deputy CEO at Saab. place 3 in this years list, how would you sum up your year as the most powerful woman in Swedish industry?

"In one way it was no different from any other year – a lot of work and a lot of professional challenges. But in many ways, it was very different. I think being the host on the Summer programme on Swedish radio is one of the most frightening things I have ever done, but at the same time it was a unique opportunity to speak freely on a subject I am very engaged in, namely creating equal opportunity in industry between women and men. Being in this position has also allowed me to debate important issues such as the allocation of quotas or not, and perhaps even raise some provocative points of view concerning equality."

How will you continue to work with the question of equality?

"As I did prior to the award – by ensuring that it is always on the agenda, being involved and setting goals, placing demands and following them up, continuing to coach women and hold talks (perhaps not as much as over the past year), motivating and discussing with my children and their friends. And I shall continue to voice my opinions, which are sometimes provocative, in order to rock the boat and get people to think in new ways."

Marie Bredberg, CEO for Combitech, you have entered the list for the first time in 57th place; what does this mean to you and Combitech's work to achieve greater equality between women and men?

"It is, naturally, an honour and very exciting to be there on the list. I think that women role models are needed to show that there are already a lot of women in leading positions, but also to show that you don't need to be a super woman to take these positions. If I can inspire other women to dare to take on the challenge and grab opportunities when they arise, that will be very gratifying."

"I hope that the attention inclusion in the list has brought me and Combitech will result in us being able to recruit still more women and thereby get closer to our 30/70 goal. I have a lot of faith in volume. Through increasing the number of women at Combitech, we can achieve permanent changes and more easily achieve the goal of a management group comprising 30 % women. This exposure puts extra pressure on us to live up to expectations and ensure that we keep up our equality work."

Gunilla Fransson, Head of Saab business area Security and Defence Solutions (12th place in the list), you have been ranked among industry's most powerful women for several years. How do you use your work experience to create a more equal Saab?

"Well, let's say that I know what it's like to work in a male dominated industry. It has made me very aware of the structures that can work against the advancement of women, even though no malice is intended most of the time. Being able to see behind these structures allows me, in my daily work, to strive to address them. I feel that Saab has taken several good initiatives, such as the mentor programme for women and the goal of having 30 % salary-setting women managers. Saab's top management signals clearly that it would like to achieve sexual equality in the company."

Striving to obtain a more equal distribution

Saab has worked actively for several years to increase the proportion of women personnel and managers. The goal is to have 30 % salary-setting women managers by 2015. Since 2006 the proportion has increased from 13 % to the present 19.5 %.

 "We have formulated a goal and anchored it in the group management, just as we do with other questions. This also ensures that the goal is followed up every month and held active," says Mia Nilsson, Head of Employer Branding at Saab.