Finalizing my American Experience


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Seven months ago, I arrived here in North Carolina for my third assignment as part of Husqvarna Group’s Global Trainee Program (now named Global Pioneer Program). Today, I got special permission to go to the office one last time and clear out my American-style cubicle. I have been working from home in isolation for the last couple of weeks and it’s time for me to return to Europe. Quite the different working scenario than I had in mind when coming here, but nobody else knew that a worldwide pandemic was going to happen either.

I’m at the end of my assignment where I’ve had the great opportunity to work with sales excellence development within the North American sales organization. It is a truly fantastic experience to move to another country and live and work there. While the cultural difference between northern Europe and U.S. might seem small, there are still disparities that can affect how some decisions are made. It’s very hard to predict and explain without experiencing it first-hand, but it can be business critical, especially if one of your main undertakings is stakeholder management. One of my targets I strived for was to primarily use the information provided to me by the local U.S. organization for the sales excellence assignment. This was in order to tailor the solutions to the market, keeping it recognizable to the individuals undergoing it, and capitalizing on the pride of everyone contributing to joint development. In my view, this has proven to be even more successful than I initially expected. The process of collaboration culturally and altering the product after influential differences has been one of the key learnings and will continue to bring value to me in understanding new situations and sentiments.     

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there has of course been a multitude of changes and challenges arising in everyday life and work. Luckily, I had most of this assignment completed before the more serious disruptions occurred. The last great challenge is to get back to Europe, but so far, the flights are still going, let’s hope it continues that way!

A big thank you to all the wonderful people I have worked with and everyone I have met, and I’m looking forward to seeing you all again under better circumstances!

Charlotte, North Carolina.

Desolate highways and a clear message being sent out.

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People don’t buy WHAT you do, they buy WHY you do it


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Simon Sinek, a motivational speaker, said “people don’t buy WHAT you do, they buy WHY you do it.” when talking about how great companies describe why they exist, instead of what they do. As an engineer, you might be preoccupied with the daily work of product development and what you do, but to be successful you should think of the whole customer journey. Because aftermarket is not the end but rather the beginning of the customer relationship. I think taking the front end perspective of your business is a great opportunity to reflect on why you do what you do. Husqvarna Group has constantly changed what they do, but not why they do it. That remains the same − to create great customer experiences.

I am now 3/4 into my global trainee program at Husqvarna Group and I am recently home from a five-month rotation in Charlotte, NC, USA. I had the privilege to spend time with the Brand & Marketing function there working on how we continue to serve robotic lawnmowers to the North American market. I worked on everything from GTM-strategy to prepping material for product launches. A truly unique experience that I can thank the global trainee program for (now called Global Pioneer Program).

Charlotte, NC – Where Husqvarna’s North America division is represented.
GIE+EXPO in Kentucky: The biggest lawn and garden show in North America.
On a weekend trip to NYC.

Next up for me is with product management, robotics back in Sweden. Hopefully, I can apply some learnings from the NA market and the great people I’ve gotten to know. With a renewed sense of why I do what I do.

Until next time!

Best regards, Erik Jilnö

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Connecting in China


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Ni Hao,

As I am writing this post, I am sitting at home working and will only be back in the office next week Thursday. What happened? Last week, I ended my rotation in China prematurely because of the Coronavirus and went back to Sweden. The last couple of weeks, I will finish my rotation remotely and already transition into my new rotation.

At Husqvarna Group, we follow a local production strategy meaning that we try to produce products for the local markets tailored to the local needs. We produce many entry level products in Changzhou for the global market and some semi-professional products for the APAC market.

Me in a temple in Changzhou

I was in Changzhou to learn more about our manufacturing plant in China during a six month rotation. Once again, I had the opportunity to discover a new culture, a new environment and meet new people. But this time was different. Relocating to China, even if it is only for some months, brings a lot more challenges than moving to Sweden.

Visiting Japan

Our factories are tightly connected and supply many components to each other. As a matter of fact, our Japanese factory in Kawagoe is one of our biggest suppliers and vice versa. And since I came to learn all about the manufacturing in APAC, I went to Japan for two weeks talking about our business together and visiting suppliers. Our plant in Japan produces mostly for the Japanese market and mainly the brand Zenoah (Red Max in the US).

Testing our japanese ride-on mower

After two months in China, Japan felt like the opposite in many aspects (a little bit like Sweden if you ask me). Especially business meetings with suppliers are certainly an experience in Japan. There are many etiquettes one must stick to. For example: Before the meeting formally starts, everyone will introduce themselves to everyone formally handing over their visiting cards (hold them with both hands and study the content when you receive them). Then hand over your card and say a few words about yourself and your title. I really should have been more aware of that and I should have packed my visiting cards when I went to Japan. It was quite awkward to tell everyone that I do not have my visiting cards with me. But I am a trainee to learn, so it’s fine.

Learning to adapt in China

What you need to know about me is that I am fairly self-reliant. I have learned from early on to manage by myself. But with a strategy of being self-reliant you run into a wall in China. That is for two reasons: 1. You cannot manage on your own there. Even the most trivial things become major challenges. How do you find a supermarket? Google maps? Doesn’t work. Then the Chinese maps. Search term? It will not find supermarkets for you. But if you translate supermarkets into Chinese you get results. But then you get like 100 results and most of them are these super tiny kiosks. Long story short: I learned to rely more on my colleagues. 2. The Chinese are very happy to help out. Asking for help also helps making friends there. They want to build a trustful relationship and if they can help you with something, it’s a start. Also in a work context I rely on team work much more in China than I used to in Sweden.

There are obviously many more dimensions that require adaptation when you move into another culture that I will not mention here but I think it is important to adapt, not assimilate. I, for example, will always keep my personality and my directness or bluntness at times but I can carefully choose when to show it. If you want to read more about this I recommend the book “The Culture Map” by Erin Meyer.

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What it’s like moving from Charlotte, U.S to Huskvarna, Sweden


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I started my second rotation at Husqvarna Group in Test Engineering before moving on to Product Management and my third rotation. Both of these placements have been in Charlotte, North Caroline. In the Product Management rotation I worked with robotic lawnmowers and battery-handheld products. I worked with a couple of different universities, attending field days and talking to professors about different research opportunities. Also assisting with the launch of robotic lawn mowers in North America.

I helped build a few displays, like shown in the image, for Lowes in the Charlotte area as well as one in our Research and Development office in Charlotte. For the battery handheld part of the assignment I focused on the current landscape of battery handheld tools and the different trends in the market.

In November 2019 I moved to Huskvarna, Sweden and started with Drive Systems Engineering. As a part of the Drive Systems Engineering team I am working with new battery development from a hardware and systems perspective.

So, what is it like moving to Huskvarna after living in North Carolina and Georgia USA? After living in two places that are not very cold in the winter and normally sunny meant quite a change to Sweden in November. However, whatever I lost in terms of lack of sun and the cold weather, I gained in a very warm welcome from my Swedish colleagues and fika. I was able to walk to work with the snowy view portrayed in the photo.

Then Christmas time came and I was greeted to this amazing tree.

For the rest of my trainee journey I will join the Primary development group for robotic lawnmowers. I am excited to see what this rotation will bring. Until then I look forward to learning and being able to provide my input in the battery development.

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Being a Global Trainee at Husqvarna Group


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Hi readers!

It is time to give you an update of my trainee journey so far. Let me tell you what has happened since my last post in February.

Doing E-Commerce in the UK

Straight after my time in the E-Commerce team at GARDENA in Germany, I went to the UK for my second assignment, working for the Flymo sales team. Besides our core brands Husqvarna & GARDENA, our Group also has strong additional brands as Flymo in its portfolio. Flymo, which is mainly active in the UK, has not only invented the first ever hover mower, it is also arguably UK’s best-known lawn care brand!

During my stay there, I mainly worked on the set-up & launch of a direct-to-consumer business for the UK market. I was involved in all relevant functions from Supply Chain & Logistics to Sales, Marketing and even Customer Service, which was overall a great opportunity. Besides working on the project, I supported the marketing team in some promo and trade show events and even helped out as a photo model! If you live in the UK & want to buy fantastic Flymo products just go to www.flymo.com .

In a nutshell, I had a great time in the UK. I was part of a fantastic team and together we successfully launched a new Consumer Website.

Top Management Meeting in Stockholm

This year in May I had, as one of us Global Trainees, the privilege to participate in this year’s Top Management Meeting in Stockholm, where the whole Group Management was gathering for some days.

Yes, you’ve read it right. Being as a Global Trainee on a Top Management Meeting. You can imagine, how inspiring that event was for me. I met all the Executives from the divisions, got to know our strategy for the upcoming years and even had fruitful conversations with our CEO. I am very grateful to have had that opportunity.

Testing Zero-Turns in the US

After my assignment abroad in the UK, all trainees gathered for a training week at our US offices in Charlotte, North Carolina. There we met the whole management team, got introduced to our US operations and visited also our factory in Orangeburg. We even made time for testing thoroughly the Zero-Turn lawnmowers, which is one of the most popular lawncare products in the US. All in all it was very interesting to see how different the US market is in some respects to the European.

Posing with a zero-turn lawnmower

After the training I went back to Germany, starting my third assignment in the Digital Marketing team of the GARDENA division. The team is leading globally our digital marketing initiatives and engages with our customers in the online environment. I’ll keep you updated on that!

If you are interested in the Global Trainee Program and consider joining Husqvarna Group, check out http://trainee.husqvarnagroup.socialmediabranding.se/. We are already looking for a new generation of pioneers, starting in September 2020!

All the best

Stefan

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The trainee program from a personal perspective


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Ni Hao!

Last time I wrote a post, I sat in my brick house in a small picturesque town in northern England. Today, I’m writing to you from a skyscraper in one of the world’s biggest cities, Shanghai. Contrasts!

Me at The Great Wall of China

I want to continue where I left you the last time, what the trainee program means to me, foremost, from a personal point of view. My home manager encouraged me to write down some key insights from my time at Husqvarna Group, and I would like to share two of them with you!

Cultural commonalities

It is very popular to talk about cultural differences. The importance to be able to adapt to different cultures. Maybe I’m naive and young, but from my perspective, I think it is more about what is common. I have had the privilege to work with people from all around the world. New Zeeland, Brazil, Spain, Morocco, the UK, China, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Singapore, Thailand, Australia, Lithuania, Sweden, Germany, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Poland, okay you get it… And I would say it’s not the differences that have caught my attention, but our commonalities! Of course, there are some differences in experiences and also different environments, but on an individual level, not too much of a difference. After all, we are all humans, and this insight I will carry with me for my whole life. 

Expanding my comfort zone

Another key insight is how important it is to constantly step outside of my comfort zone to develop. When I moved to the UK, I felt like I was really stepping outside of my comfort zone. Moving to a new country where I knew nobody… But, compared to moving to China, that was easy peasy… Here, the most simple things are an adventure in itself. For example ordering food in a local restaurant. First, you need to find a reasonable place while trying not to get hit by a scooter, they are EVERYWHERE… Phuu. When that is done, you need to explain, with your body language, that you want to have a look at the menu. When you have the menu in your hand, it is time for the translation app to work. Often, the app is working quite good, but you never really know what you have ordered. Then the last step; to pay. You just give them your credit card or some cash? Nope. Now you have to explain, with your body language, that you don’t use Ali pay or WeChat pay, but that you want to pay with cash. The first times, when I went out to get some food, I was actually a bit nervous, I stepped outside of my comfort zone for the smallest thing, to buy food. After a couple of times, you get used to it, and now it’s a part of my everyday life. You just have to put yourself out there. So China, bring on the next challenge.    

Shanghai Tower

What’s next?

The program is not over yet, I have roughly eight months left! Next on the agenda is a trip to our Japanese site just outside Tokyo, and then I will finish up my rotation here in China before Christmas. My last rotation will be in the robotic sales team in the US, fun! There, I will be working with commercial sales to customers like universities and golf courses. I’m moving away from sourcing to the other side of the business, I think that will be a really good experience.

…And don’t forget to apply for the brand new Pioneer Program, the Global Trainee Program 2.0! http://trainee.husqvarnagroup.socialmediabranding.se/

Regards,

Caroline

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Husqvarna Group Around the World: My Latest Year in Review


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Hi again blog-readers!

It’s been a year since I last wrote a blog post and in Husqvarna Group’s Global Trainee Program, a lot can happen in 365 days.

Assignment 1: Finishing up in Stockholm

My first assignment working in Stockholm as the Global Social Media Coordinator culminated in me participating in the Husqvarna Forest & Garden division’s two biggest product launches of 2019 – a pair of 50cc chainsaws, and a game-changing robotic lawnmower. We showcased the new chainsaws in the wintery forests of Huskvarna, while the latter product was introduced at the Mobile World Congress in sunny Barcelona. My task was to document these events in photo and video and distributing the content to all my social media colleagues throughout the globe. As I’d worked with the social media communication plans for both of these campaigns, it was a perfect way to end the assignment.

At the MWC in Barcelona

Trainee week in Germany

Between assignments, the trainees meet up for a week for presentations, factory tours, trainings and more. Trainee week #2 took us to Ulm, Germany, where the headquarters of the Gardena-division is located, and where the brand was born. Fun fact about Ulm: despite being quite a small city, it is home to the tallest church in the world – the Ulmer Münster! Also, Einstein was born there. 

Ulmer Münster

Assignment 2: Digital marketing in Paris

Assignment number two brought me to Paris, where I would spend six months working with the regional marketing team, focusing on digital marketing for the French market. This included creating Facebook campaigns for several different products and optimizing the French website – optimizing content and continuously improving the user experience. The highlight of the assignment, was that I was given the task to create, plan and run my very own campaign! To formulate an idea of my own, plan it out, execute and then measure the outcome was a huge learning experience, and lots of fun!

The Eiffel Tower celebrates 130 years

Assignment 3: APAC Regional Marketing in Kuala Lumpur

Fast forward to today – I’ve now been in Kuala Lumpur for roughly three weeks, doing my best to understand the vastly diverse and different market that is Asia-Pacific. My core project here will be to plan the Husqvarna Forest & Garden Division’s participation as main sponsor of the Asia Pacific Tree Climbing Championships, where this region’s best tree-climbing arborists will compete. I’ll also be supporting different ongoing marketing activities within the APAC markets, such as India, Japan and China. At the time of writing, I’ve just returned from a week of meetings in India, where our sales company was started about three years ago. At 330 years old, Husqvarna Group is still new in some parts of the world. Exciting times lay ahead, for Husqvarna Group and for me!

The Petronas Towers

Thanks for reading

/Oscar

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My great time in Sweden – at the robotics R&D


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Working at the robotics R&D

Hej! So it’s time for an update! Since my last blog-post I’ve had the great opportunity of being abroad for almost six months. More specifically in Huskvarna, Sweden – the place where Husqvarna Group was once founded!

On the professional side I’ve made a shift from the development of irrigation controller software to the development of robotics hardware. So the first thing, when I arrived at our office in Huskvarna was to receive a detailed course about everything that one has to know about robotic lawnmowers. Starting at the product range to the details of the embedded system, which can be described as the brain of the robots.

I started my period in Huskvarna in 18th March and it turned out that I arrived at just the right time to be part of developing a new robotic lawnmower model. Since I’m an electrical engineer my task was the development of the mainboard for this product. For me this was a great chance to gain a very detailed knowledge about the components and technology that is used in our robots. It was a very good experience for me to really participate in a bigger project. It gave me the opportunity to learn the processes and of course more about the Swedish lifestyle. The office culture in Sweden is definitely characterized by a so called Fika, which is having a coffee and chat with colleagues or friends.

Additionally during the project I was able to join a workshop in our factory in Aycliffe (UK). It was really instructive, because I could really see and learn how our robotic lawnmowers are built and what the challenges in the production lines are.

Except for three small weekend trips home to Germany I stayed the whole period in Sweden. Thus I had really a lot of time to spend in, around and outside of the city. So I really felt like I got to know the place. One of the things I liked most about it, was the closeness to nature – even in the city there a lot of small parks with lakes and behind the factory of Husqvarna Group there is a beautiful waterfall.

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Business Development and Personal Development at Husqvarna Global Trainee Program


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Hi/Hej/Hoi readers!

I am Henrik Wallander, and I am the Global Trainee in Business Development for the Husqvarna Division. Connecting to something that my fellow trainee Raphael mentioned in an earlier post of working in a different country than you were born: I am originally from Sweden, but I am based in the Netherlands, just outside of Amsterdam, as Husqvarna Group offered me the opportunity to make my home base Dutch, instead of Swedish.
During my masters studies in Innovation and Industrial Management at the School of Business, Economics, and Law at the University of Gothenburg, I realized that what suited me best would be a dynamic career, requiring me to own dedicated projects with the associated responsibilities and somewhat fight for the possibility to support and drive change and improvement in an organization. That last part might seem discouraging or negative, but it is actually the opposite. I want to be challenged, and when I have the support from my manager and team to positively affect the organization I work for in a meaningful way, I thrive.

For my first six-month assignment, I got the responsibility to drive a project investigating online sales opportunities, with a lot of helpful support from my team, my assignment manager, and my home manager. With the golden support internally, I was given the chance to progress professionally and personally with more responsibilities and trust than I could have ever hoped for going into this position. For the various stakeholders, the assignment was successful and created valuable insights which I can only be proud to have been a part of.

I am currently on my second assignment within the Global Trainee Program, working on another Business Development project in Global Sales and People & Organization. What is extremely exciting about this project is that it is nowhere limited to a single country or region, it’s focused on global employee development, which is a topic I have not worked with extensively before.

Evidential for the delegated responsibilities for this assignment, I can highlight that I am currently finishing this blog post from my hotel room in Olathe, Kansas. I am here for a week-long business trip to gather and share experiences with our colleagues in the Construction Division in the US. To explore and collaborate on what they have done related to the project, input that I can bring back to Europe and share with our division, fostering and strengthening global collaboration.

Outside the Husqvarna Construction Products Headquarters in Olathe, Kansas.

Working at Husqvarna Group has led me to take on more responsibility than expected and capitalize on professional development opportunities, all thanks to remarkably supportive and engaging coworkers and managers. However, one should always remember that in order to achieve what one wants, continued effort and dedication is needed to reach one’s goals. Bring it on!

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What can I do as a Global Trainee at Husqvarna Group? A lot!


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When I write this I have been part of Husqvarna Group’s Global Trainee program for a little over seven months. Before I joined the Group I studied MSc in Industrial Engineering and Management and BSc in Design and Product Development at Linköping University, Sweden.

What made me apply? When growing up I have always been exposed to Husqvarna branded products. My dad owns an Automower (robotic lawnmower) since many years back and he praises it much more than he ever did when I cut the lawn as a kid. I think this speaks to how Husqvarna make customers love their products and services, and this was something I felt I wanted to be a part of.

Once I joined I started to realize that the great products and services we offer are actually the result of a more important resource, the people. All the colleagues I get to meet are supportive and as a trainee, you really get a unique insight into the whole of Husqvarna Group’s business.

A key behavior here is to take ownership and ask yourself: What can I do? For me so far, I have had the opportunity to do the following:

  • Run a handheld battery development project as a project manager.
  • Contribute to our process development by interviewing and looking at how to work with resource management.
  • Spend time in R&D labs taking apart (and trying to put together) every product.
  • Training modules in Stockholm (Sweden) and Ulm (Germany) with all Trainees.
  • Work at Husqvarna’s Automower production site in Aycliffe (UK), where I am at the moment.
  • And so much more!

With that, I leave you this time with a picture of the latest and greatest Husqvarna Automower 435X with an all-wheel-drive!

Thanks, dad, for not praising my lawn cutting abilities. Until next time!

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