For the uninitiated, what do you really mean when you talk about financial management, and why is it important?
“Financial management is just what the word says: managing a company’s finances. This includes monitoring and evaluating how things have gone historically but also involves looking ahead, for example through a budget, costing of new prices or an analysis of a proposed investment. If you don’t know how your business is doing, how will you know what to focus on and in which direction to run?”
For smaller companies and growth companies, a structured model for financial management can probably come across as overbearing. What is your advice for that kind of company?
“Don’t make it more complicated than necessary, but take the need for financial management seriously. In addition to recognizing the need is adapting the financial management to the company’s needs, acquiring basic knowledge, setting aside your own time and staffing resources, if possible, and having systems in place that communicate with each other.”
Tell us about the research you conduct today as a graduate student at the school.
“My research deals with the governance of outsourcing relationships of public outsourced services. My thesis is based on a case study where I study how a larger Swedish municipality that contracted out housing for substance abusers manages the relationship with the private contractor over time and how this is changing. Two important concepts are firmness and flexibility, where I believe that a balance between the two is needed to control and manage an outsourcing relationship.”
Among other topics, your research of course focuses on public procurement. Is financial management in the public sector different than in the private sector?
“With the huge impact of the so-called new public management school in Sweden, there are great similarities between financial management in the private and the public sector. One factor, however, that is different and that I tried to understand in greater depth in my research is how politicians influence the management of outsourced public services.”
You have been a successful entrepreneur since your teens and have worked as a consultant at some of the biggest management companies. How have you benefited from your practical business experience in your current research role?
“For me personally, I see my past experiences as a great asset. Being a scientist is similar to being an entrepreneur. You’ve got to be energetic, independent, structured and, at the same time, think creatively and innovatively. As a management consultant, it’s about taking in and processing large amounts of data and information and finding solutions. As a researcher, the process is similar but it is more important to ask the right questions. In my role as teacher at the Stockholm School of Economics and SSE Executive Education, I always try to bring in experiences from my professional life in order to provide a wider context – something that is greatly appreciated.”