TJ interviews: Atlas Copco’s Dorna Eriksson Shafiei

Conor Gilligan from Degreed talks to Atlas Copco’s Dorna Eriksson Shafiei.

Tell us how you ended up in talent management.

I have a background in psychology and started my career at the employment services, coaching and developing government officers and assessing long-term unemployed candidates for job fit. I was passionate about leadership early on and wanted to work closer to the business which is why I ended up working as a consultant at Korn Ferry in the area of leadership and talent consulting for seven years.

I loved to meet and support clients from different industries, big and small, to build a talent management strategy linked to business strategy and help deploy this internally. 18 months ago I took the opportunity to join Atlas Copco as Group VP of talent management.

A great new adventure and an opportunity to build something from scratch as this was a new role on a group level.

Atlas Copco has a very interesting history of over 146 years, tell me a little more about the organisational design at the company.

It has indeed! Atlas Copco is a 146-year-old global and industrial company. Our customers are active in a wide range of businesses in more than 180 countries. We have our own operations in more than 70 countries and employ close to 40,000 employees.

We are a decentralised and diverse group with four business areas and 22 Divisions with full P&L responsibility that develop their own objectives, strategies and structure within the scope of the business area. Divisions generally conduct business through product companies, distribution centers and customer centers.

Continuous learning and knowledge sharing are key parts of personal development

We have a global presence, with approx. 1/3 of operations in Europe, 1/3 in the Americas and 1/3 in Asia. The decentralised nature of our group supports innovation – I would say that we are very results focused and performance oriented group with a caring family culture.

Our leaders have a lot of ownership and opportunity to learn at an early stage in their careers as one of our main beliefs is ‘The one closest to the problem is the one closest to the solution’ – where we push accountability down. You can see this belief mirrored in the operations very well.

How does L&D play a pivotal role in this?

Employees drive and own their own learning journey and as a company we are proud to offer learning in different forms and shapes to help them build that journey. It starts with your mission, where employees together with their manager develop what the three to five year mission is, what to accomplish and how.

Employees are then encouraged to drive their own development, by being curious and open for new challenges and opportunities that will help them grow towards own professional and personal goals.

Our leaders play a pivotal role in nurturing this culture of accountability. We define leadership as the ability to create lasting results and seek to develop future ready leaders who demonstrate key behaviours aligned with company values.


Our internal job market is a key foundation for our success of retaining and growing talent. Continuous learning and knowledge sharing are key parts of personal development, and for us mobility is one of the key means to accomplish this.

I know that Atlas Copco has taken part in the artificial intelligence challenge between Finland and Sweden. Could you explain more about this and the results it yielded for you?

We took on the challenge to raise awareness and promote basic and fundamental knowledge in AI within the group.

The challenge originally started by the Finnish government towards the Finnish people and then the Swedish government joined the challenge and encouraged companies headquartered in Sweden to do the same in order to upskill people in one of the most high in-demand skills of 2020.

We opened up the course to all of our 40,000 employees globally through our LMS and also have a virtual community in place for this course, chaired by one of our local subject matter experts. We currently have 700+ people who have taken the course.

We are now also designing a two-day f2f module, called AI for decision-makers, which is a spin-off from the virtual course where we deep dive into practical implications of the technology to raise awareness and understanding among our GMs. 

I realise the AI challenge was on a national level, how is Atlas Copco currently focusing on new skills as it pertains to digital disruption and transformation?

As part of our newly designed Group Leadership portfolio targeting our GMs/VPs and consequently leaders reporting into these roles, we have mapped both f2f and virtual modules to our five key competencies; our Talent Framework.

One of the competencies is called ‘Improve business Success’ and is broken down into behaviours such as driving innovation, embracing change and disruption. To give an example of a virtual module we are offering to our leaders in this area, we are currently piloting an 11-week digital learning course called ‘Leading Digital Acceleration’.

This is a virtual consortium program, where our leaders learn and interact together with leaders from other companies to share and exchange ideas and best practices. As mentioned, we are in the pilot phase as we speak and I´m very excited to evaluate the feedback and impact of this module.


About the interviewee

Dorna Eriksson Shafiei isVP Talent Management at Atlas Copco.



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