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Conducting giant leaps for Saab’s future workplace

4 min read

Meet Annette Eriksson, CIO Saab, and head of the team that are taking Saab into a new world.

From the early nineties when Internet was just a buzzword to the ongoing rapid transformation, Annette Eriksson has seen and lived IT and its evolution up close through different companies and industries. The main takeaway remains the same – and today in a stronger sense than before: IT well done and in close understanding to its business is a true enabler and something Saab needs to be on top of, always.

Not an easy task, given that Saab has different needs and sometimes apply to different rules and structures within countries, business areas and business units. Annette is main responsible as CIO and head of Group IT, with around a thousand employees and consultants throughout Saab.
Before joining Saab she held several leading positions at large IT companies such as WM-data and CGI and as CEO at Lexicon.

“To run a company as CEO is incredibly rewarding, not least in terms of personal development. It also really brought clarity to the fact that IT and having the right competence secured is key for all companies”, Annette concludes.

Business development is what makes her boat float, and the scope varies quite a lot between industries.

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IT is evolving rapidly and we are making sure our colleagues progress with it
Annette Eriksson

“The common denominator is that tech is moving faster and faster, and while some companies have covered quite a back track others have a long way to go, you could just check the differences between banking and medical and health care. But if you look at the ongoing pandemic, health care and many other industries have really taken on the task and made some really impressive work.”

Working with IT within the defense and security industry means rigorous frameworks, rules and regulations that need to be followed.

“One thing is regarding our license to operate, we have to live up to certain standards. Also we must be competitive and serve our business by adapting to great user experience. This is indeed a challenge, but then again, I like challenges, and so does my team.”

Leading for new smarter ways of working

Having a great IT structure brings possibilities, and IT is surely an enabler for pretty much all companies. But just by introducing new systems, little is likely to happen. In the end there needs to be an overwrapping consensus within an organization, a specific mindset if you will.

“I consider Saab to be a humanistic company, working a lot with softer values. I sense there is a pride throughout the organization,” Annette says.

Now Saab is setting up a whole new IT organization, evolving the company’s ways of working – smarter, faster and tailor-made.

“What we’re looking at is to create solutions for each need while still realizing as much synergies as possible cross the company. And it’s indeed a challenge. If you’re an engineer you’re not likely to ask for the same stuff as someone working with communication, for instance.”

The ongoing pandemic does not make things easier for anyone and Saab’s IT department is no exception. At the same time, an increased sense of urgency has naturally emerged.

“We’ve worked really fast and achieved more in one year than what we would normally do in a couple of years.”

How is Saab making sure to stay relevant in the future?
”First off we make sure to keep taking care of our existing competence, which is quite impressive as is, but IT is evolving rapidly and we are making sure our colleagues progress with it. Moreover, as Saab is growing we’re hiring and look for people continuously.”

What motivates you?
“To do things together is a typical motivational enabler for me. When something needs to be achieved. And in that I guess you can tell I’m rather competitive and that gives me energy.”.

If you had three words to describe yourself – what would they be?
“If I have to answer straight away I’d say engaged, performance driven and a teamplayer.”

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