Managing projects across borders

In a global organization, often project managers are tasked with leading people from many areas of the organization, across different parts of the world. This can be  challenging but highly rewarding.

“You have to be able to lead and motivate individuals and groups,” says Emma Berglund, who is Director of Liaison Management at Saab India Technology Center, SITC. “Being required to lead and motivate places demands on a project manager’s communicative and social skills, so in-depth technical expertise alone is not enough.”


SITC is Saab’s development centre in Hyderabad, India. The company’s various business areas turn to SITC for assistance with a variety of development assignments, such as software development, mechanical development or production support. Emma serves as a link between the business area making the request and the development centre. Her role requires her to collaborate every day with a large number of people in a variety of functions.

“Collaboration across boundaries is essential to be able to innovate and produce products that customers demand,” says Emma. “This can include working across internal divisions within the company and boundaries between different countries and partners”.

Consensus and customer focus

Successful projects require a focused start. Everyone must have a common picture of the requirements and have an identical vision of what is to be delivered, for example, in terms of the correct quality – what criteria or standards must be fulfilled and what are the priorities are when it comes to delivery time versus cost?. This is particularly important in projects across boundaries, where project members have different backgrounds and experience. This often means differing views on what the end result should be and how to get there.

“When we are in agreement regarding the overall objective and what we need to accomplish this, everyone at this point also understands exactly what they need to do to contribute to the result”.

The project manager must also highlight what is useful to the customer. They are the customer’s representative in the project and must identify what needs to be done and what can perhaps be omitted in order to fulfil the customer’s requirements commercially.

“Saab is  striving to work more closely with customers and I believe that as a project manager it is becoming even more important to build that relationship with the customer in order to ensure both delivery and future sales.

“All of this requires a certain amount of work at the start of a project, but the projects that succeed are those where time has been devoted to this in the initial phase,” says Emma.

Project management training with specific tools

Emma joined Saab as a trainee and later participated in Saab’s project management training. The training consists of modules so that employees can complete the component that is most relevant at any particular time. Additional modules can gradually be added as the need arises. The idea is that this  knowledge should be able to be applied directly in day-to-day work.

“You have to really work at the training and be active, which is good since that provides you with specific project management tools. The courses have been excellent, with inspiring teachers, and I have gained many new insights, says Emma. “Saab has been extremely supportive to me in all respects as a new employee at the company. I have been able to take responsibility and make a real contribution. Saab really invests in its new employees”.

India – a dynamic society

Saab’s development centre, Saab India Technology Center, is located in Hyderabad for several reasons. There are many skilled engineers here and India is an interesting market. It is also a country undergoing rapid development.

“India is great,” says Emma Berglund. “It is growing, it is dynamic, and it has verve and spirit. There is great focus on growth, both as a society and within companies, and that filters down to projects and individuals. There is a demand for constant development and to deliver, and I enjoy that”.

Working in a different culture gives you a new outlook on how to accomplish things. It is rewarding and educational,” says Emma. “You are forced to reassess your ingrained ways of thinking and to take on board new perspectives, and I like that.”

Emma together with Sandhya Sasapu who works as a project leader at Saab in India