Home sweet home…


Three weeks back in Sweden, India already seems like a long gone dream, especially last week when the first snow for the season fell in Stockholm. Once again I’m amazed by the ease with which I have adjusted back to life as I’m used to it; no more hotel, no more driver, no more Indian colleagues, no nice weather, just plain old Sweden.

Leaving India

Four weeks ago I did my last working day at Uninor in Bangalore. My last day was in many ways “business as usual”, presenting my last project to 30 people, but in many ways very special. First thing in the morning outside where I lived, I was surprised by a truck (a movable ad) announcing that I was leaving with a big picture of me on the side. Later the same day a radio station called me and had me wish for a good bye song. All of this is the credit of the remarkable Uninor Marketing Communication team in Bangalore; you are the greatest colleagues and friends. Together with the rest of everyone in the Bangalore office you made my half year in Bangalore incredible. The last six months, I have done things I never would have imagined, I have learnt things I never thought I needed to know and I have a change mindset leaving India. India is truly an incredible nation with great potential for a long time to come. I would love to come back and work in India again.

Back home

Leaving Bangalore meant coming back home to Sweden. As every time I have lived abroad before, I’m always surprised by how easy it is to readjust to “the old”, in my case living and working in Stockholm again. And even though I miss India, it’s great to be back home. Since two weeks I’m back working in the Telenor Sweden office in Stockholm, now working in a group called Channel Management in the Consumer Marketing Department. This time my task is to optimize our portfolio of handsets. A task that will continue throughout the whole last module of my third and last trainee assignment, in March I will no longer be a trainee. Even though the Indian and the Swedish cellular markets are very different, my experience from working in marketing and sales in India will come in handy. I’m once again in for new and exciting challenge!

More about that next time!

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Looking forward by looking backwards


Time is flying by and in less than a month I will be in Sweden again! One of the most important learnings and also one of the things I remember the best from the very first of the trainee seminars in Oslo is the power of reflection. Make the most of your learning experience by reflection upon what is going on around you. With only a few weeks left in India it is the perfect time to reflect on what I have learnt here and how that will help me going forward, basically looking forward by looking backwards.

In April I came to India with a lot of anticipation for what half a year in India would be like. Since then I have run three different projects, seen two of my managers quit and learned how to blend in (at least to some extinct) in an Indian work place. On top of everything going on at work I have also gotten used to the Indian culture, the food and not least the traffic. No longer do I find cows in the street that weird :-). What I come back to over and over again is change and the importance of accepting, adjusting to and pushing for it.

All the projects I have run has basically been implementing change. Around me, I have had to adapt to a changing environment, managers and colleagues coming and going. Only if you can cope with change, will you be successful.

Secondly I would say that drive and energy is a success factor. A mindset of everything is possible and a strong will to achieve a goal isn’t enough. Without a drive and push to actually achieve what you have set out to do, you likely won’t. It’s about never giving up.

To summarize my learnings I would say that it’s all about attitude and not competence, and should it be about competence, then all you need to do is learn. 🙂 All those situations I have had to understand and persist through will definitely help me in my next module in Stockholm. In october I’m beginning my last six months as a trainee in the Channel Management team with Telenor Consumer. That is going to be a very exciting half year.

Below are some pictures from my recent vacation to Malaysia and Singapore. In Kuala Lumpur I meet up with Gabriella who is trainee with Uninor in Delhi and with Kristina who is a trainee with DiGi in KL. We had a great week together. Malaysia and Singapore was quite the experience and very different from India.


Tioman Island east of Malaysia; green tropical water, rainforest and awesome beaches


Tioman Island on the left and Kuala Lumpur by night on the right (notice Petronas twin towers in the far distance)


Kristina, I and Gabbi at the DiGi (Telenor Malaysia) office to the left and me in Singapore to the right.

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Life long memories


India never stops to amaze me. During the last few weeks I had the opportunity to explore Kerala, the southwest most state of India, start working with a new group of people at work and celebrate my birthday Indian style. All memories for life.

Before coming to India I had a very simplified view of this country, for even though it is a country I have come to realize that one must think of it more as a continent. My vacation to Kerala, one of the smaller Indian states on the southwest coast of India, opened up yet a new world within India. The nature is greener than I have ever seen anywhere before, yet another language apart from English and Hindi is spoken and the culture seem to be slightly different, may it be because Kerala has the highest literacy rate of all of India, at almost 100%? Anyhow I had a great week in Kerala, seeing how tea is made, travelling the backwater channels along the Arabic Sea coast and relaxing on the beach of the Arabic Sea, all in all a great break from intense work.

Retail 2.0
The last month I have been the project manager for a project we call Retail 2.0; taking the next steps within our retail business. Essentially the project focuses on going from a state of launching new stores into a state of operational excellence, not a very easy task since everyone needs to be onboard and aligned towards the same goal, everyone from store managers and store sales executives as well as backend support functions and retail management. After an initial month we are starting to see some accomplishments but there is still a long way to go. Before I leave India in end of September we will have finished this project and I’m hoping to leave retail in a much better place than it was when I came here. 🙂

Teafish nets

Tea bushes in Munnar and Chinese fish nets in Cochin, both in Kerala.

house boatcanoe

House boat and backwater channel ferry, Kerala.


Indian cab and a lit Mysore palace at night.


Birthday celebration Indian style. No comments 🙂

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Going to work this morning the city was almost abandoned. A few cars were out, even fewer motorcycles and I only saw one auto rickshaw. The yellow and black three-wheeled auto rickshaws are usually the most common vehicle in Bangalore, but not today! In all of India there’s a one-day strike, or bandh, against the high fuel prices. Bangalore is greatly impacted as the political opposition on the national level, who has ordered the bandh, is the ruling party in the state of Karnataka.

Apart from the standstill, today also marks half time for my adventure in India! I have now spent exactly three months here and have another three to go before hitting Swedish ground again. (Maybe the Bangalorians are striking to make me stay longer, or is it to make me leave sooner?!) Therefore it’s the perfect time for reflection.

Lessons learned
1. Expect change and learn to live with it! I keep talking about change in nearly every blog post, and I probably will continue as it’s ever so present. Since my last blog post, a month ago, I have once again changed my main work task. The pan-Indian launch of mobile number portability got postponed till end of October, due to lack of readiness mainly by the state owned operators. This event left me jobless, once again, and quickly I was assigned a new task; to bring our retail stores up to speed with the original business plan. As a project manager I’ll lead a 90 day turnaround which will give me great insight into how to run and operate a retail business.

2. Go outside your comfort zone. Since coming to India I have devised Go-To-Market plans in marketing, improved our procurement process in Commercial and currently I’m heading a project in Sales, but my background is still that I’m an electrical engineer. By doing want I initially thought I couldn’t, I have widen my horizon and acquired valuable knowledge for the rest of my life. But it was only possible by not being afraid of trying.

3. Be patience. Last week Sigve Brekke, Head of the Telenor Asia operations, visited Bangalore and in a Q&A session, he shared his view on Uninor as a long term player in the Indian telecom industry. In the long term perspective patience is important. Many times over I have tried to figure out where I will end up after the trainee program, without much success. Instead I have realized that patience and making the most of the current situation will put me in the best position after the trainee program. But patience is equally important in the short term, something I have learnt here in India; may it be waiting for someone’s input or just the fact that the different work cultures makes my thinking different than my colleagues.

Next time I’ll give a update on the retail project (assuming I’m still working on that by then :-)) and hopefully I have some pictures to share from my planned vacation to Kerala, the southwest coast of India

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Change is for real


The Telecom industry for sure is a fast moving industry! Today Uninor launched its GSM service in Mumbai, the most populous city of India at 14 million people. In the days to come we are launching in four more areas, increasing the population footprint of Uninor by 250 million people to a total reach of 900 million Indians. Almost 10% of the world population now has the choice to call with Uninor. Truly amazing.

My task
Not only the business itself is fast moving, my tasks have quickly changed from one thing to another. In my last post I said I would describe what I’m doing at Uninor. Since then, my tasks have changed completely. I came to Uninor in Bangalore to prepare the launch of Postpaid in Karnataka, the southwest Indian state with 60 million people. Postpaid is simply mobile subscriptions were you pay post your usage on a monthly basis, in contrast to Prepaid, which is what 95% of Indians are using and it is the Uninor product as of now. However the introduction of Mobile Number Portability (MNP) became much more urgent, with a pan-India launch of MNP on July 1. Therefore three weeks ago I was assigned to be the project manager and the marketing responsible for the MNP launch in Uninor Karnataka.

Mobile Number Portability
MNP is a great service; it simply enables customers to switch from one mobile operator to another meanwhile keeping their mobile number. This service has been in available in Sweden and most of Europe for the last 5 to 10 years and in India its implementation has been underway for more than four years, finally though MNP is supposed to launch in just four weeks. The complexity of the overall project is huge since all operators, more than 15 operators pan-India, must be ready to offer MNP for all customers, a total of over 500 million, all at once. My responsibility to is to device a market strategy for Karnataka, to maximize the opportunity that MNP is to a new operator as Uninor. The strategy itself is secret as of now, but the project involves so much more. My responsibility also covers sales processes, the sales organization itself, the customer service organization as well as all our IT systems, which all need to support MNP. The best part of the project is the fact that I will be part of both laying down the strategy, doing the planning and implementing the MNP service in our organization. And now there are only four weeks till launch.

Picture time
That’s short on what I spend my time at work on, to better describe my experience of India so far; I thought I would share some pictures. These are both from work and from my weekend trips.


Market and store visit to one of the exclusive Uninor stores in Davangere, five hours north of Bangalore.


Launching of Dynamic Pricing, a prepaid product with constantly changing discount dependent on place and time.

Inauguration of the new office, we are moving there on Friday.

Sightseeing with Gabriella in Delhi; here India Gate and an auto-rickshaw. (No we are not in Paris, even though India Gate looks much like the Arc de Triomphe)

Sightseeing in Agra; Taj Mahal and the Agra fort. It’s amazing to think that Taj Mahal was built by 20,000 people for 22 years.

That’s all for now! More on India next time.

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Every day a new adventure


Three weeks has passed since I landed in India, I’m starting to settle in, but still every day is a new adventure. I explore new places, new cultural aspects and meet with new people every day and my conclusion has to be the same as the name of a TV show I recently watched: Incredible India.

Key learnings
I thought I could prepare myself before going to India, even though I had never been to Asia before. I think I did my best by taking lots of vaccine shots, trying to imagine what my life would be like and by packing the things I thought I would need. I was wrong. India can’t be understood unless experienced. During the three weeks I have spent here I believe I have experienced as much as I normally do in a year in Sweden. I’ll try to explain by listing my five key findings so far.

1. People are everywhere and they are very friendly, both in and out of the office. Everyone is asking how I’m doing and is genuinely interested in who I am even at the first meeting. In Sweden we can definitely learn from the Indians on this point.

2. Traffic in India = Chaos. At least this is true to a Scandinavian; fortunately I have a driver that takes me where ever I need to go. The best part of it is the traffic signs that read “Follow traffic rules”, they are ironic at best.

3. Food is a lot spicier than I thought was possible. Thanks to the continental restaurants I’m able to slowly adjust my stomach to the Indian dishes. Unfortunately I don’t think I’ll be able to adjust fully.

4. Differences in society in India are greater than in any country I have visited before. In our office and in the central parts of Bangalore, life is very much like any large city in the world, but in the outer parts of the city, in smaller cities and in rural areas the differences are huge. It is hard to imagine that almost half of the population survives on a couple of US dollars per day.

5. Working hours in India are very different. At Telenor Sweden I used to hear from friends that we started late at around 9 AM. When I show up at our office here at 9 AM I’m usually the first person in the office. Some time before 10 AM most people show up and the last as late as 11 AM.

All these findings are off course the result of the Indian culture, which is very different from the Scandinavian or even the European. I’m sure I will continue to learn about life in India all through my six months here.

Next time I will go more into what I’m spending my time doing at Uninor in Bangalore, it’s all about launching postpaid services in the Karnataka region, which is the state in which Bangalore is the state capital. Now I’m off and out into the traffic, you can imagine it by picturing cars and motorcycles everywhere sounding their horns constantly.

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Welcome to my journey

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At the palace in Mysore

Welcome to my trainee blog! In this blog I will write about my life as a trainee in the Telenor Global Trainee Program. The trainee program began in September 2009 and right now I just started my second placement, which is in Bangalore, India. In India, Telenor launched its first commercial service in December 2009 under the brand Uninor. During the coming six months I will drive a project to launch postpaid services in the Indian state of Karnataka, in south west India.

Becoming a trainee
So who am I? Prior to becoming a trainee within the Telenor Group, I finished my Master’s degree in Electrical Engineering from Linköping University. During my university studies I had been an exchange student to both RWTH Aachen, Germany, and to Stanford University, USA, and therefore I had my mind set on becoming a trainee as I wanted to yet increase my international experience. A combination of the company culture, values and vision together with the telecom industry itself and the setup of the trainee program, led me to join Telenor as a trainee.

My first six months
I started my first placement as a trainee in the Networks department of Telenor Sweden in Stockholm last September. During my seven months in Telenor Sweden I worked on three major projects. One of which was the establishment of a Network Performance Management function.

The trainee program
My journey as a trainee will be 18 months long, hence after my placement in India I expect to join Telenor Sweden again, however within a new division. The point of the trainee program is the get to know the Telenor Group in as many aspects as possible. Therefore all of us fifteen trainees meet for seminars throughout the 18 months. So far we have been to Telenor Norway, Telenor Hungary and Telenor Serbia to get to know the different business units, to extend our knowledge of the telecom industry and to build our networks. For more info on the actual program itself, please visit: http://telenor.se/privat/telenor-karriar/trainee/globala-traineeprogrammet/index.html.

My hope is that this blog will give you an insight to the life as a trainee. Don’t hesitate to ask questions; in a year you might become a global trainee in Telenor yourself, don’t miss that chance.

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