ISB Updates

Managing the boss well, is the key to success, Ericsson's Head

For a handball champion turned corporate honcho, Hans Vestberg fitted well into an auditorium sharing his insights with group of aspiring business leaders and entrepreneurs at the Indian School of Business (ISB) recently.

On an exclusive trip to the School during his busy India tour, Ericsson President and CEO Hans Vestberg charmed the audience with his casual, grounded, and easy to talk to approach. He talked precisely for 40 minutes like a business faculty. The ISB students listened in utter silence, almost holding their breath for fear of disturbing the current of his thoughts, or losing one of those inspired words.

Hans Vestberg spoke fluently on technological revolution, transformation of the Swedish firm, leadership challenges, diversity in workforce and his dream of becoming a professional handball player. (He played in Sweden’s top national league. While working abroad for Ericsson, he played for a league team in Brazil and for a Chilean championship-winning team).

A peek into the technological revolution
The audience was engrossed in his talk as it interwoven with jokes and anecdotes. His talk on the Networked Society allowed a peek in the fast changes that the technological industry is witnessing. He also spoke on the connected world and how it is going to change the way we live and the way businesses conduct their business.

Hans, the first non-engineer to head the company since it was formed in the year 1876, said that Ericsson was constantly working to create a truly networked society - “connect everything that can be connected and provide the same connected experience” to consumers.  Hans Vestberg termed this wave of transformational change that’s disrupting the world as ‘technological revolution triggered by mobility, broadband and cloud’.

Next generation of wireless access - 5G - services
Though Hans is from a non-technical, non-engineering background, but his vision about 5G services is crystal clear. He spoke eloquently about the next generation of wireless access – 5G – services. He said, “5G is set for commercial availability sometime around 2020.”

He explained that Networks will need to provide connectivity in a way that is both highly scalable and programmable. “Traditional cellular networks and their one-size-fits-all approach therefore need to be adapted to these future demands, many different subscriber types and varying app usage can not only be met, but delivered efficiently,” he added.

Thoughts on Leadership
Like the super Spiderman’s, Uncle Ben dictum, ‘With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility,’ the CEO shared a similar thought, as he cautioned the future business leaders and entrepreneurs, “It’s not easy to be a leader. Leading people is a difficult thing.”

He further defined “Effective leadership is an art of managing people above and also on the sides”- a 360 degree concept of leadership. He said from the very start his credo has been defined by “If I do something, I do it 110 percent. If not, I don’t care a sh-t about it.”

Hans Vestberg also shared quickly his experiences in different assignments across the world - from China, Mexico, Brazil, Sweden, the US and elsewhere as an Ericsson employee.

On diversity and inclusion
Hans Vestberg talked about how he believed in diversity and inclusion. He said, “Diversity has been high up on my agenda from the start and I believe diverse teams are the best teams. They are high-performing and innovative, with a variety of perspectives, experiences and reference, all of which helps make them the most creative.” From its inception in 1876 till 2008, the Ericsson always had leaders who were from Sweden, all based there and with only one woman working in the leadership team. Hans said, “We have decided to change this and bring in diversity. By 2020, we want to have 30 per cent women in our workforce. In 2014, it was 22 per cent.”

Hans amiably fielded questions from the PGP students. He joked about his ambition of being a handball player. The audience applauded enthusiastically throughout the session. The session concluded the students clicking selfie with the graciously obliging CEO. It was fun, informative and ‘networked’ evening for the ISB community. On the wings of inspiration, the audience was carried to the height which seemed to be the natural abode for the CEO.