Life as a leader at Saab

What is it like to be a leader at Saab? We met with four managers from different areas of the organization to explore this question. The meeting culminated in a conversation about challenges and inspiration, and the satisfaction gained from working with very knowledgeable colleagues and co-workers.

Beatrice Kärnborg, Carl-Fredrik Hammarbäck, Karen Brown-Ek and Malcolm Arvidsson sat down with us to explore these areas of leadership. In this brief interview we discussed how they feel about working at Saab, inspiring both personal and technological development.

Picture: Beatrice Kärnborg, Carl-Fredrik Hammarbäck, Karen Brown-Ek and Malcolm Arvidsson


A diverse workday

What’s it like to work as a manager at Saab?

Carl-Fredrik: The first thing that comes to mind is our varied workday. It is very exciting to work with such a wide range of products and this is true across our entire business.

Karen: Working with talented individuals and high technological products is a fantastic combination.

Beatrice: We get to work with incredibly skilled and talented people who are very enthusiastic. This challenges and encourages our leadership to improve all the time.

Carl-Fredrik: It also inspires us to be professional. There are constant changes in our market. We need to keep up with developments and also do so in a way that encourages profitability.

Opportunities and individual responsibility

What role does development and personal responsibility play in leadership?

Malcolm: A diverse range of products and an international environment can provide plenty of opportunities to grow and develop. But the company must provide a great deal of freedom for personal development, and many career paths and options.Beatrice: Faith must be placed in an individual's abilities to develop. A lot of responsibility can often be placed on the individual in different roles. This requires  the leadership to support that person, but it also allows each employee to grow and achieve excellent results.

Karen: We want to cultivate an environment in which employees as well as managers want to take responsibility. We set clear company goals and compartmentalise them in order for everyone to own their responsibility and to be able to say: "I contributed!"

Malcolm: The majority desire clear goals and want to deliver good results, and we have the right conditions to succeed together with our talented employees.

Open-minded atmosphere

In what ways does the company support you to implement strategies and accomplish your goals?

Malcolm: Perhaps the most obvious example is the broad spectrum of internal courses and training available to us. But equally important is the shared pool of experience within the group of managers within the company. Everyone is willing to share their experiences and support each other. There is a notable unpretentiousness at Saab and that helps.

Carl-Fredrik: We have management teams in which we engage in valuable discussions about leadership. There is an open-minded atmosphere in which one is allowed to take a step back and have the freedom to think outside of the confines of the workday. Overall, I feel that Saab devotes a great deal of time to issues regarding leadership and employees.Beatrice: There is also good support from the HR department. They make room for questions relating to leadership and work with them in a structured way.

Modern leadership

Saab is a company that has been around for many years but is known for its modern and progressive approach to people management. What defines its leadership culture?

Malcolm: I think the culture at Saab is characterised by an open and attentive attitude up and down the hierarchies. It’s positive and stimulating for everyone in the entire organisation.

Carl-Fredrik: I have worked at Saab for fifteen years and I have noticed a shift toward an increasingly modern and dynamic leadership. To develop the leadership has been a conscious and focused effort at Saab.

Karen: I feel there is an abundance of energy within managers these days. Thanks to this, and continuous evaluation and feedback, we can identify potential development areas to further boost our personal leadership.

Leaders also strive to develop further

How can one develop as a leader and be an example to employees

Carl-Fredrik: It is all about being receptive and trustworthy. You must be able to listen and you must live what you preach.

Beatrice: I think it is imperative to always want to develop further as a leader, people never stop learning. I strive always to be a better leader, and I have a constant drive to evolve. To be able to succeed in this, I believe in having an open atmosphere and continuous dialogue, and to be prepared to give, as well as accept, feedback.

Malcolm: I consider the message one delivers to be very important. Often we lead change. This can be a new business deal or a restructuring, and in order to get everyone on board we must deliver the right message and have faith in what we do.

Karen: You also need to be humble. If an individual or group has done a good job, they should have the opportunity to present it and receive the honour, not me.

Work-life balance

Managers also have a life outside of work as well. How is the work-life balance if one is a leader at Saab?

Malcolm: The measurement of a good leader isn't based on how many hours one works. You can fetch your child from preschool and still be a good boss. It has a lot to do with trust, and it applies to managers and all other employees as well. You should be sensitive to an individual's personal situation, and this is something we discuss often.

Karen: We often speak about balance. I feel we have created a shared responsibility to ensure that everyone in the group is satisfied.

Beatrice: There is a degree of flexibility in the company as well as an acceptance that one can work a little differently sometimes. The most important thing is that one delivers.

Carl-Fredrik: I am now going on paternity leave for six months. We have great working conditions at Saab, and we are very open-minded with regard to these matters. I have received support from all levels in preparation for my time off. That feels great!

Incredibly fun!

In conclusion, who would like to sum up how it is being a leader at Saab?

Beatrice: It is incredibly fun being a leader at Saab!