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AQ - Building success through people

Mattias Östlund.jpg

Following Alumni's recent rebrand, we speak to Mattias Östlund, Country Manager Alumni Sweden, about digital leadership, the Nordic ecosystem and what the future holds.

AQ: What is at the top of Alumni's clients' agenda right now?
MÖ: There are four major areas where we are being asked to support and advise our clients and those are digitalisation, sustainability, diversity and innovation/disruption. We see this a lot, both in terms of the need for board competence, but also in terms of the CEOs, owners and management teams that we advise. These are the major themes that we're working on - dealing with the transformation from the old to the new.

AQ: How is Alumni doing and what's coming up?
MÖ: We're doing great. We've grown every year but two since we started 27 years ago and had a record year in 2016. Similarly, 2017 is shaping up to be yet another good year, potentially one of the best so far. In addition, we're seeing new people come on board to the company, at all levels of seniority, bringing new experiences and perspectives, so we're in an intriguing place at the moment, with a new generation, together with people who have been at Alumni for many years, shaping the next phase of our evolution.

AQ: We hear a lot about 'Digital Leadership' - in what way has the nature of leadership had to evolve?
MÖ: Digitalisation has led to greater transparency for everyone - it has also meant a huge increase in the pace of information flow and how much customers, consumers and clients can see, read and hear about company leaders. So, to me, every company and every leader needs to be extremely credible, honest and ethical in order to ensure that there is a red thread in terms of both the company and individual leadership. Having a firm moral compass, strict ethical standards and a high level of integrity is increasingly important.

Whilst we advise in all executive management team functions, we have experienced a significant increase in digital leadership roles. We're fortunate to have really strong people on board leading and driving that segment. It's at the top of our agenda to continue to be one of the top advisers when it comes to digital leadership. We now have people who are specifically given a much freer hand to look into this area, to make sure that we are seen as the number one in the region. We need to make sure it's always at the top of our agenda and always being improved.

AQ: Could you elaborate on the difference between 'recruitment firm' and 'leadership services firm' for those who don't appreciate the difference?

MÖ: For us, a leadership services firm like Alumni has different elements. One is executive search and another is leadership consulting. The difference between executive search and recruiting is that we make sure that we find the right people wherever they might be, whereas a recruitment firm finds people who are on the market. As a leadership services firm, we support clients not only through recruitment, but also with the development and assessment of individuals, management teams and boards. So, Alumni is a full-service provider when it comes to people development and leadership. It comes back to our company mission - business success through people.

AQ: I'd like to discuss the 'Nordic level ecosystem' - could you explain exactly what you mean by this phrase?
MÖ: Our ecosystem makes us unique and is a key strength for us - we have the opportunity and the capability to work with clients on different levels. We support clients, whether it's top executive search, specialist and middle management recruitment, leadership consulting, or leadership services such as assessments, audits or development programs.

We're also very clear about our own brand positioning - Alumni and Harvey Nash, for example, have a different target audience, a different network. That difference needs to be nurtured and, from a market perspective, be positioned differently. We collaborate and share support functions, but at the same time we're very clear that we're different brands and companies.

AQ: Could you give an example of this differentiation?
MÖ: The difference is in our brand positioning, clients and our network - Alumni works at the top level with owners, boards and CEOs as our main clients. Harvey Nash works with the management teams and recruits mainly at middle management level. That's why we complement each other so well, in terms of the services and networks that we provide. Within Alumni we also have a very strong (and growing) leadership consulting capability, which differentiates us from the competition.

AQ: What are your views of Alumni's recent rebrand?
MÖ: To me, our new brand identity shows and reflects not only our core values, but also our position in the marketplace. It's confident. It reflects passion, excellence, pioneering long-term thinking and collegiality - it's bold yet sophisticated. It reflects who we are as a company and as people - a premium brand, a brand that always delivers the highest quality through our passionate people.

AQ: The firm has been going for 25 years and much has changed. I won't ask you to gaze that far into the future, but where do you see Alumni 5 years from now? What ambitions do you have for the company?
MÖ: I would love to see an even stronger Nordic footprint and I would like to see our ecosystem working even better on a Nordic level. I would love to see us further develop our strong position within the digital and technological arena. Our leadership services arm is growing significantly - over time, this will probably become as big as our executive search business. Whilst evolving our core services, we also need to make sure that we are continuously innovating and allowing ourselves to be somewhat disruptive within the marketplace.

As such, we've just launched something we call 'The First 100 Days', where we are actually taking responsibility to follow and work with our placed candidates for the first 100 days, to ensure that they get the best start and are up and running in an effective way . We take this responsibility since we want to make sure that the candidates that we place are successful, which ultimately benefits our clients.

It all comes back to 'business success through people' - we are a people company at our core. That's why we love working at Alumni.

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Posted on July 7, 2017 9:44 AM |