Mikael Forsberg was recently appointed as Greencarrier Freight Services’ first new Head of Global Sales. He is located at the Headquarters in Gothenburg, Sweden where he is just beginning to find his feet. But with a strong track record and extensive experience from working internationally, he is hardly a newbie! With some ambitious growth targets, he is ready to take on both the organisation, as well as the customers.
Hi, Mikael! You are the new head of global sales at Greencarrier and take the title of Chief Commercial Officer. What does your job involve?
I am responsible for the execution and development of the global sales strategy for Greencarrier Freight Services. My primary concern is to ensure the integrated commercial success of Greencarrier. I have been tasked with achieving some ambitious growth targets, and my goal is, not only to reach them, but also exceed the expectations! There is also a technical aspect to my role that involves working together with the organisation, making sure all functions are aligned to meet our strategic commercial objectives. It includes identifying obstacles and processes that do not fully serve their purpose, and replace them with processes that simplify, improve and enhance our work. This in turn, will ultimately result in satisfied customers, which is always the final goal.
I know you are just beginning to find your feet at Greencarrier. What do you look forward to the most?
Yes, I have only been here for about five months, but we have already in this short time taken giant steps forward. I can see how the organisation is starting to mobilize and focus on the same goals. I sense a very positive feeling in the company right now and a willingness to switch gears. I can see that a lot will happen in the coming years and I am full of confidence and optimism. Greencarrier’s employees around the world possess tremendous knowledge in their fields of expertise and I will do everything I can to take care of and nurture that knowledge. That, I look forward to!
You also have a strong track record and extensive experience in working internationally. What is the most important thing you have learnt along the way?
My experience is that you always fall back on the very basic things, such as the relationship to customers, the importance of keeping what you promise, delivering what you are meant to deliver and constantly striving to exceed customer expectations. It requires a lot of patience, strategic thinking and it involves a long-term plan. But when you reach your goals, it feels amazing. At Greencarrier, this is what we strive for!
What would you say is your primary area of expertise?
I have been very well trained in sales and leadership. It is in my DNA to always focus on the customer, no matter what I do! For me, it is important to ask yourself and the organisation: How will this impact our customers? What is the value for them? These questions should be answered every time a decision needs to be made. Our relation to our customers is the most important thing we have. I also believe it is important to have a genuine interest in doing business, and to feel comfortable in a changing organisation and a changing world. It may sound easy, but it can be quite a challenge to get an entire organisation to become fully sales-driven at all levels in the company.
Speaking of challenges, what is the biggest challenge in your job?
One big challenge in my job is to find the right pace in the implementation of work. It makes little sense to run at a speed of 200, when everyone else is running at a speed of 100, or the other way around. It is important to find a level where the entire organisation can move forward at the same speed. It is very much about the communication in the process of change and to constantly keep stakeholders up to date, as well as letting them know which way we are going. I am a person who loves to keep busy and make things happen. But I also know it is important to prioritise and focus on one task at a time. Therefore, I always strive towards completing one project, before moving on to the next one.
I get the feeling that you are a busy man! What do you do when you are not working?
I keep busy at home too! I have a family including two daughters who I spend a lot of time with. Right now, I do a lot of driving to and from birthday parties and other activities, like regular dads do, I guess! We are also extending our house at the moment, which takes up a lot of time. When I have a couple of hours to spare, I go out on the ocean with my boat, and if the water is completely still I do some wakeboarding with a friend. I love doing that, it is fantastic!
You do sound passionate about wakeboarding! What are you the most passionate about when it comes to your job?
One thing I am very passionate about, and have previous experience from, is when you manage to build a team or an organisation that interacts so well that you succeed to solve problems you thought were almost impossible to solve. When working in an environment where every person knows what the other is doing and understands each other’s strengths and weaknesses, the leadership is very simple and very delegating. You interact as a team member and share the same goals. The opposite is when you get into a vicious spiral and cannot solve the most simple tasks as a team. Adapting my leadership to these different situations is incredibly exciting!
If you were to predict the future of the transport and logistics industry, in which direction would you say the wind is blowing?
In the long term, I think customers will demand freight forwarders that focus on the environment. Environmental issues is a topic that will only continue to grow and become more important to us – just look at organic food and how sales has increased dramatically in only a few years of time, as a comparison. It may cost a bit more for companies to focus on the environment, but it does pay off, and it is now what consumers demand. In the future, I think all companies will focus more on the environmental impact of the final product – an issue where transportation obviously constitutes a big part. Consequently, Greencarrier will continue to keep a strong focus on the environment, no doubt about it!
It sounds reasonable to me. Looking ahead, where would you like to see Greencarrier in the next few years?
I want to strengthen Greencarrier’s position in the market and develop a stronger international profile. I believe we have a lot to offer larger international companies. We are an independent private company with the Nordic and Baltic countries as our domestic market. The position we hold in combination with our interesting niche gives us a golden opportunity for growth!
It sounds like you believe it is possible, just like the Greencarrier slogan “Yes it’s possible!” How important is this way of thinking?
I think it is fundamental. For me, it is an attitude statement and a way of approaching your job, colleagues and not least customers. It is about caring a little extra, respecting each other, never compromising on quality and always keeping your promises – internally as well as externally!
You surely seem like the right man in the right place, Mikael! I wish you the best of luck!
/ Johanna Judkins, Greencarrier