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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