Degreed’s Conor Gilligan talks to Malin Svensson about her people and culture strategy after the pandemic.
Tell us about your role as Chief People Officer at Axis Communications and how this came about.
I have been with Axis for nine years, first as the HR director for our global sales organisation and since 2018 CPO for Axis group. Before Axis I had a role as HR director for a European based business unit at a Swedish industrial company, Trelleborg AB and before that I spent 12 years with Adecco in Sweden, eight years as HR Director for Sweden and four years Regional Director.
Driving sales and operations together with seven Branch Managers in the biggest cities in Southern Sweden. The latter an experience what has been very valuable when going back to HR again.
I was intrigued to learn more about your culture, I know this is something you are very proud of.
Our core values have been strong from the start of the company in 1984. It is part of our history and identity, to not only focus on what we do, but as important how we do things.
What makes us tick is passion for what we do, that we are allowed to be ‘nerds’ in our respective areas, that we love technology and relationships and that we are at our best when we solve problems and work together. Being a global growth company, our values is the glue that keeps us together worldwide and that we all lean on both for our successes and failures.
Trust and respect are increasingly important with technical distance.
Our values are closely linked to our vision and together they are the base for our culture. This is one of the key reasons for our success. Openness, transparency, trust, ambition and teamwork is what forms our culture.
We are growing with a lot of new colleagues every year and we keep the culture at Axis through thorough recruitment processes, spending a lot of time onboarding new colleagues in a sound pace, giving all the chance to learn. And having colleagues and leaders leading by example, all being core values ambassadors.
Given the current COVID-19 crisis, what will be some of the learnings you will take back to the office when you return?
Life after corona will have many faces. I believe there will be quite a lot of learnings which can lead to new ways of working, selling, travelling, interactions with customers/partners and probably a lot of new innovations and solutions.
Many old truths are up for evaluation and discussion in many of our different teams as well as in our management team and we are still humble towards what will stay as the next normal, after corona. It is too early to say.
One thing we all still believe in and we feel even stronger now, is that working together is our thing. Being together, creating new innovative solutions for our customers will continue to be just as important, it is part of our culture.
A learning to bring with us is that collaboration over all kinds of digitals tools works well. However, it is not the same thing as working together face to face. Trust and respect are increasingly important with technical distance.
We find comfort in that our way of working, emphasising the importance of our culture, building trust among colleagues’ abilities and giving well intended feedback, continues to be the right way forward for us. The more technological and digitalised our work become the more personalised and human we have to be.
How are you planning to take the positives back into the business?
Digitalisation of HR in general is a driving force that is helping us also move forward within the learning and development area. The Covid-19 pandemic has forced us to move even quicker in these areas, especially for learning and training.
We moved over to digital platforms with all training both internally and externally (we have a global training Academy for customers and partners) and have since end of February had thousands of hours training performed.
During the years we have prioritised training face to face, which we still believe has great value. But one learning will be to probably keep some training digital. As I said before we will definitely bring with us many other learnings as well from this unfortunate situation.
I know future skills are a top priority for all businesses today, tell me more about how you are approaching lifelong learning and supporting your people with knowledge, when they need it.
In a fast changing business environment continuous learning and development is crucial for us. We have a strong belief in that people want to develop, contribute and that they are competent to drive their own development.
We trust everyone at Axis to take responsibility for their learning, to share with each other and together create the learning culture we strive for. To support that we create programmes for e.g mentorship, leadership development, Axchange programs (our version of exchange), focused skills training etc.
We also try new and different ways of distributing and sharing learning, training and inspiration. From using different digital tools available, to sitting around a campfire sharing experience. A learning environment can be achieved no matter if you are in the office, at home or travelling.
When it comes to upskilling your employees, how are you approaching this and what are you plans to scale this in the future?
As an organisation we have assumed a growth mindset, it is well aligned with our culture of sharing information, collaborating, being innovative, asking for feedback and looking upon failure as gift to learn from. Thriving in Axis also then means believing in this for your own, your colleagues and the company’s development.
So, for the future we will continue to focus just as much at continuously recruiting the right people for Axis, people who thrive in our culture, as we will support our teams and people to feel empowered to drive their own development, upskilling and building more specific competences for their future needs and potential.
To succeed, a key parameter is to create an environment where people can take responsibility for their engagement and happiness, supported by their managers, and sense great leadership skills.
About the interviewee
Malin Svensson is chief people officer at Axis Communications.