Claas WallinI’m 49 years old and I live with my family and our dog in Höllviken, south of Malmö.

I’ve been working as Product and Business Development Manager at Skanska New Homes for three years, where I’m part of the management team. I’ve also worked at Skanska International – including some time in Spain – and I was a project manager at JM for five years. But I began as a building services technician at NCC.

In my spare time I enjoy playing golf and riding a motorbike.

What does a normal work day look like for you, and what are the biggest challenges you face?
With employees in Malmö, Gothenburg, Kalmar, Stockholm and Gävle and an organization that extends from Malmö to Umeå, no two days are ever the same.

The challenges are to prioritise for the long-term and to do the things that really add value, while creating a stable and consistently profitable business. People throughout the organization want to make improvements, but I need to have an overview and ensure that all the cogs fit together.

What is most significant for Skanska at the moment and how does it affect you as a leader?
Most important for us are always our safety culture – “to work safely or not at all” – and our business ethic. Right now we’re launching a business plan for 2020 which places high demands on us as leaders of the organisation. If we want employees to strive towards new goals we need to communicate about these goals in a way that they perceive as relevant and compelling. Then we need to follow up and ensure that we all deliver according to plan.

I was introduced to the program by our HR manager. Of course a large company like Skanska, with 56,000 employees, has a wide range of internal training programs available, but we wanted to try out an external program. The SBL program was chosen – and me. It proved to be a very good choice, both for me and for the company. A business thrives on outside influences that can challenge ingrained habits, which is exactly what the SBL program does. And the possibility of building a network through participation in the program also appealed to us.

Please tell us about the program.
It’s leadership training for senior managers in the construction and real estate sector. The program was structured around the themes of business, leadership and management and it was delivered in five modules, from January to October.

In each part of the program there were lectures from scientists, business leaders and inspirational speakers with different areas of expertise. The speakers were extremely professional, both in terms of their impressive knowledge and in the way they conveyed that knowledge. Overall the program was very well designed, planned and implemented. The Program Director did a brilliant job in keeping us all on track.

What was most useful for you?
It’s difficult to point to one thing that was most useful. There were things that we already knew but which we hadn’t been using consciously or in a structured way. The program helped us to see these things in a new context which made me much more aware, especially of how I draw on knowledge and skills when I need to. We also learned a lot of smart tips that I’d not thought of before!

Obviously, I knew a bit about business finance and I thought I was familiar with most of the concepts. But the way the subject was presented to us opened up a whole new world – and suddenly I began to understand how certain things affect our business and why senior managers talk about these things so often. What I might previously have thought of as rather obscure became understandable and relevant.

What was it like to work with the other program participants?
We were 25 participants from twenty different companies specializing in construction and real estate, and we quickly realized that most of us were facing similar challenges. This meant that we readily understood each other and we could be relatively specific in assisting each other. It also helped us get to know each other better than I think we would have done if we’d been dealing with a wider range of issues.

Has the program changed you as a person and as a leader?
I’ve become more aware of my leadership style and I think I now relate to my colleagues in a more humble and professional way.

In what situations do you think you will benefit most from the program?
Every day of the week. And some of the skills I learnt even work at home as well! I gained most in terms of leadership and business acumen.

Who do you think should participate in the program?
Leaders at all levels who want to develop their leadership skills while honing their knowledge of issues related to strategy, brand profiling, risk management, innovation, cultural aspects, networking and market analysis ie issues that affect whether your company becomes – and remains – successful.

What is your advice to people considering the program?
Would you like to get a little better at many things? Then join the program. Once there, get ready for five tough but interesting and exciting weeks – and very beneficial networking.

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