Meet Clara Bodin, Global Lead Diversity & Inclusion at Telia Company and Agent at Agentum

At the core of Agentum you’ll find our agents – the 1500 people who hold our entire business model up and running. They are the people who give us insight into their networks and share their knowledge of great people, so that we can reach out with open positions to the right ones.

Therefore we want to introduce Clara, who, with a sense of justice and a mind for business, has reached the position as Global Lead Diversity & Inclusion at Telia Company. Here’s a taste of what she has to say about inclusion, innovation, age-discrimination and door-opening.

Clara, tell us about your position, the company you work at and your journey getting there.

I am globally responsible for diversity and inclusion at Telia company; a very fitting company with regard to this question, for the world is communication, right? And everybodycommunicates in their own way! The world is diverse, Telia is part of the world and therefore we have to recruit and retain talent from all kinds of backgrounds in order to succeed and be at the forefront. When the telephone became commonplace in homes and offices after the First World War, it was the women who obtained the hundreds of thousands of jobs as switchboard operators in the world. Now, IT and telecommunication float together through digitization, robotization and automation and suddenly, there are new groups making their entry into the labor market. Since the geriatric EU has few young people (who also reject technical training programs), developers and engineers from other parts of the world instead make their entry. These come from populous regions with lots of young talented people.

A group I think will mean a lot for innovation in the industry in the future is people with neuropsychiatric function variations that are rejected today, already in school, as they do not fit within the “framework”. There is much underestimated talent here; Greta Thunberg, to name one example. Then we have all our elderly people who, with an increased retirement age, we have to stop age-discriminating. You’re not undevelopable after 55 years? Research shows that discrimination in some cases begins already after turning 40 – this is hardly anything we can afford in our geriatric EU. 

So, how did I nail the best role in the world for me? I’m a youth politician who then got stuck to the Russian language, I studied economics and went into business. I worked in the former Soviet for 15 years as an entrepreneur and HR director, finally to land as an “internal politician” in a global company. The circle closes itself. Lovely!

Tell us about what motivates you and your goals for the future.

The motivation to work for equal rights for underrepresented groups comes from a sense of justice that I’ve had since childhood.Personal experiences from exclusion, discrimination and bullying are present as an extra fuel. My goal is for Telia to take the obvious choice in telecoms for women – based on the post-war history mentioned above – but of course as an inclusive workplace for everyone. My personal goal is to open as many doors as I can. Not only by building open-minded recruitment processes at a large company, but also by functioning as a door-opener in my spare time as well. As I speak fluent Russian, I regularly meet immigrants/newly arrived from countries in the former Soviet Union and consult them on how to get employment, give them tips on education and connect them with people in my network. Especially women from the East are so wonderfully driven and well educated and can give Sweden so much power. 

What is your latest important learning? 

I think the issue of built-in bias in AI is interesting and scary. Virginia Dignum, Professor of Social and Ethical AI at Umeå University, is the real nestor here to follow. For those of you who want to get involved in integration issues and have some time on your hands – share your network and knowledge about how the labor market in Sweden works through www.yrkesdörren.se! A simple digital tool for meeting new Swedish talent who want to contribute to our society, but do not have the contacts to come in and show what they have. This summer I will read Melinda Gates’ Women Change the World and Youval Noah Hararis’ 21 Questions for the 21st century. That is, if I have time, with two little playful children who just want to swim!

Meet Fredrik Engdahl, CCO of DanAds and Agentum Agent

At the core of Agentum you’ll find our agents – the 1500 people who hold our entire business model up and running. They are the people who give us insight into their networks and share their knowledge of great people, so that we can reach out with open positions to the right ones.

As one of our most appreciated agents, we wanted to have a chat with Fredrik Engdahl to hear more about his inspiring position, his motivations, goals and his most recent relevant learning. Here’s what he shared.

Fredrik, tell us about your work position and your journey getting there.

I hold the position as Chief Commercial Officer at DanAds, who offer a self-service advertising platform which enables our customers such as eBay, TripAdvisor and Bloomberg to sell digital ads to smaller advertisers as simple as Facebook and Google can do. In my role, I am responsible for revenue, partnerships and profitability. I am also responsible for a client success team that works with helping and increasing our customers’ business on the platforms we provide.

I started my career as a management consultant focusing on media and telecoms; industries I find incredibly exciting considering the technology changes that are taking place, but after some years as consultant I became eager to try work on the “other side”. The idea was then to go to a small company within an industry that underwent rapid change, which I had also worked against earlier as a consultant. Doing so, I ended up at the Swedish video streaming and start-up company Magine in a role that was about building up their B2B business. From there I ended up since 6 months back at DanAds and in my current role.

Tell us about what motivates you and your goals for the future.

What drives me and what I enjoy to work with are roles where you constantly learn, where you get to create something new and challenge old truths, and work with people who are smarter than myself and challenge me to develop. Professionally, my goal is to be involved in building something new and growing it into a world-leading company, but above all to have fun!

As a father since three months, my everyday life has changed quite so radically, and what was previously important does not feel at all as important anymore. Privately my main drive and goal is to spend as much time as possible with my wonderful new-born daughter and wonderful wife, something that does not always align with the goals you might have with your job, a challenge I’m sure many recognise.

What is your most recent important insight?

I think my most important insight after having worked as a consultant before, and now in SMEs within a line function, is how important culture and people are for a company’s success. When I worked as a consultant, my focus was often on technology, quantitative data and “hard” factors, and I thought corporate culture, mission and vision were rather unnecessary. It might sound obvious, but I realised that the only way companies can become successful is through their employees, from top management to customer support, and a company will only get the best employees by having good corporate culture, a clear vision and goals that permeate the entire company.

Meet Estelle Westling, Founder of Grace Health and Agent and Agentum

At the core of Agentum you’ll find our agents – the 1500 people who hold our entire business model up and running. They are the people who give us insight into their networks and share their knowledge of great people, so that we can reach out with open positions to the right ones.

With an ambition to improves the lives of the many, Estelle is a co-founder of the Stockholm based femtech company Grace Health which gives women from all around the world access to instant health services. Here’s some of her thoughts on scalability, UX and design for the next billion users.

Estelle, tell us about your position, the company you work at and your journey getting there.

I’m one of the founders of Grace Health – a digital women’s health clinic for the next billion users. We started Grace Health one and a half years ago when we wanted to design smart, relevant and affordable services for women in emerging countries to get access to healthcare, understand their bodies and make informed decisions. I’ve always been dedicated to creating impact for the many with the work I do.

Tell us about what motivates you and your goals for the future.

Something I find very engaging is scalability. I am inspired by the fact that with smart technology such as machine learning and natural language processing we can provide access healthcare for millions of women worldwide.

What is your latest important learning? 

We need to adapt both our business model and our tech to be relevant in emerging markets. I love our ideas on how to apply methods for building products and services with the same technology and passion but for the next billion users.

We can all apply our competence and knowledge to creating smart services for the many. Though, we need to rethink business model, go to market strategies and design from the start. I love our ideas on how to apply methods for building products and services with the same technology and passion, but for the next billion users. Google has some great tools on this topic. https://design.google/library/ux-next-billion-users/

Meet our Relationship Manager Frida Malm!

We are happy to introduce our relationship manager Frida Malm who with pace, passion and impeccable social skills manages the Agentum network.

Frida, tell us about yourself and why you decided to take on the position as Relationship Manager at Agentum.

After graduating from the Service Management program at Lund University, I started my career with an internship at EF Education First. Eventually, that lead to the position as sales intern and later product manager, where I stayed for a couple of years. When I was recommended to the position at Agentum, it felt like a great chance to step into a smaller and more agile organisation. The position also allowed me to maintain focus on relationships, people and meaningful exchange; not too far away from what a position within sales offers.

As a person I am enthusiastic, outgoing and adventurous but also have a considerate and calm side. I think that is the reason I enjoy a people-focused, high-paced job but highly value exercise and nature for balance. I am a big fan of skiing and I spend most of my free time either up in the mountains or training for the next time I go. It is my happy place.

What does your position entail?

Agentum has two main pillars. The first one is the recruitment agency, which is the part of the organisation that is more available to the public. The other pillar is the network, which consists of approximately 1500 professionals that we call our ‘agents.’ With our business model, these professionals are key to the recruitment process. As a relationship manager I am responsible for the network and I make sure that the agents are heard, seen and engaged. It is about maintaining a balance of mutual giving and taking; it is my job to make sure that the agents benefit from and enjoy their membership in the network, but also to make sure that the network benefits from the agents. In this sense, one could say that I have a position within management.  Two other main factors are social interaction – face-to-face conversation, feedback and meaningful discussions – as well as developing the network and hence the ‘product’ we are selling.  In this, my position falls within the intersection of business and people, which is exactly what I find exciting.

My goal is for agents to think of Agentum as an inspiring complement to their current colleagues, as we provide cross-industry contacts, opportunities to create new bonds and of course a chance to help people in ones’ surroundings. If the network is not sufficiently engaged, or if they feel neglected, the business idea falls. In sum, my position as a relationship manager enables me to work with people in a way that generates a win-win situation for agents, Agentum and the recruiting companies.

What is your vision with the company? 

A vision that I have is to create a generous and giving environment within the network, where agents can share knowledge, create new connections and feel equally included. I am amazed by how inspiring the people from the network are, and I am working on enabling them to meet each other more often as well. Our breakfast seminars are a good place for that; they provide an opportunity for agents to share, discuss and learn from each other’s different skill sets. Ultimately, I believe that the referral business model is a forward-thinking way of approaching the traditional recruitment industry. I hope that Agentum becomes the top-of-mind recruitment agency and network for finding great people.

Lessons From A Digital Nomad

The past few months, I have been able to live in Indonesia while working remotely at Agentum. Being my first time as a remote worker (or as many like to call it, a “digital nomad”), I was surprised by how easy it was to adapt to the new lifestyle and carry out my work in a reasonably normal manner from across the world. But I also learned some lessons about myself and about remote working in general, which I have summed up below.

Lessons for the remote worker

  • Your discipline will be tested.

Although I had confidence in my discipline before heading off to the tropical life, remote working showed me wrong. First, it took time to get used to the climate, the jetlag, the lifestyle, co-working spaces and the heat. Second, it took discipline to develop routines that worked in that environment. Getting there, life quality peaked and I managed to find a work-life balance while staying on top of both work tasks, my master’s thesis and surfing classes. Lesson learned: Don’t expect to be your normal, disciplined self the first week or two. Adaptation takes time.

  • Pick a place and settle down.

Remote working – great. But I do believe that all kinds of work require at least some sort of office; a calm place where you can focus, have your coffee and a functional desk (or at least a table). Coworking spaces and some cafés are great for that. But once you start to compromise your routines with a “I’ll finish this on the go” mindset, your work will start to suffer. Neither mind nor body understands how to travel, focus and experience a new environment simultaneously and especially not when it is supposed to be part of your ordinary life. If you want to travel or experience the surroundings while away, try to make it a vacation from the vacation. Lesson learned: Plan ahead and get things done before you go on adventures. Don’t underestimate the energy it takes to travel.

  • Understand the importance of efficiency.

You most likely don’t do remote working for the sake of the working, but for the change in lifestyle. Suddenly, there is so much to experience outside work that the importance of efficient working hours becomes extremely evident. As I didn’t want to compromise neither quantity nor quality of my work, every little pause became time that I could have spent at the beach or exploring the city. In other words – inefficient time was narrowed down to a minimum. In that sense, I believe remote working is actually more efficient than office working. Lesson learned: efficiency.

Lessons for the company

  • Communication is key.

Don’t cut down on communication while your employee is away. Although it might be easy to think in terms of ‘he/she is so far away, I’ll ask X instead’ – try not to. In fact, emails, phone calls, video chats and all other means of communication enhances discipline and efficiency for the remote worker. It makes us feel that we aren’t that far away. Constantly updating on the tiniest details brings us closer to our teams and more dedicated to our work. Use Google Hangouts, Teams, Skype, Trello or other platforms to communicate at least once per day, even if it’s only a three-minute call. Lesson learned: Communication is key.

  • Develop clear working policies.

Freedom to work remotely requires knowledge of exactly what needs to be done and in what timespan, so a clear working plan is essential. Further, the employer needs to lay down some policies for availability: what hours the office can expect to reach the employee, when to have team meetings or group chats and what exact time to expect the next delivery. Also – if you need to have a group meeting between time zones, the remote worker will probably be fine dealing with some inconvenient meeting hours in exchange for freedom the rest of the day. Lesson learned: Communication is key, again.

  • Give it a try!  

Finally – don’t be afraid give it a chance. If it doesn’t go well, your employee will have to return to the office. If it does work, both parties will benefit: the employee will feel more content and trusted, thus improving performance while create a lifestyle that he or she desires. The company will improve employee satisfaction and hence lowering employee turnover, attract talent that demands flexible work arrangements (read: millennials & gen Z) and gain more efficient working hours. As a bonus – if you can’t compete with the big companies’ salaries, remote working could be your hook: studies show that 36 percent of employees would choose the ability to work from home over a pay rise. Lesson learned: none, until you try for yourself.

Text by Alexandra Teorell, Project Manager and remote worker at Agentum

Meet our new CEO Madeleine!

We are excited to introduce our new CEO Madeleine Celander, who joined the Agentum team in October. With a customer-focused mindset and a hands-on approach, Madeleine has delivered a brand new Agentum 2.0 in only a few months.

Madeleine, tell us about yourself and why you decided to take on the position as CEO at Agentum.

After graduating from Uppsala university, I started my career as management trainee at Modern Times Group. I then continued working within media at MTG for a couple of years before heading into the position as sales manager at EF. With EF, I got the opportunity to move to Switzerland, where I have been located the past couple of years. Last summer I was recommended to the position as CEO for Agentum and I felt that it was a great next step. I moved to Stockholm and since then it has been fast-paced and super exciting.

As a person I’m outgoing, energetic and passionate about people. I love networking and the whole concept of trying to find the best fit for a certain position via contacts. This interest of mine was established already during my time as head of Uppsalaekonomerna, where I spent a year doing exactly that. My passion for people has always been a driving force, and now I get to work with it on a daily basis. I’m often fearless in the way that I put myself out there and expand my comfort zone when presented with a new opportunity, especially with a cause that I believe in. Considering how much time people spend on their careers, I believe that finding the right position is essential for one’s wellbeing and personal development. Therefore it feels great to be a part in the process of matching great people with their futures.

What is your favorite thing about Agentum? 

The simple but brilliant business idea, and how it generates a win-win situation for all parties. It’s an easy process: We have a network of credible and trustworthy professionals – the Agents – who recommend people to open positions. Companies inform us when they are looking for new employees, and we ask our network for recommendations. The agents know their fields, they have relevant sector-specific networks and they are high-achieving in their lines of business, which makes them great at finding the right person. Being in the midst of an otherwise recommendation-based society, I think it’s only a matter of time before we apply this line of thinking to colleagues as well. Besides recruitment, our agents are able to connect with each other via our internal agent network. Running a professional network on top of the recruitment function gives my position as CEO an extra element of meaningfulness and sociability.

What is your vision with the company? 

My vision is to become leading in the recruitment industry, primarily in the Swedish market but eventually the Scandinavian or even international market. Our model is smooth, efficient and easy to scale so I’m really looking forward to this journey. We want our network to thrive with inspiration, new connections and great people. Also, it is hugely important for me to create a positive and encouraging corporate culture in which our own employees flourish!

Three HR Essentials of 2019

A recent survey found that 60% of employees plan to look for a new job in 2019, leaving HR with a clear chance to up its game in attracting and retaining the best talent.[1] It becomes more and more common to switch from one job, or even industry, to another. The global remote workforce is growing by the day and top talents are demanding benefits that previously were ‘nice to have’, but now are essential. As Forbes provided their HR trend report for 2019, we have listed our three main findings below.

  1. Understanding the importance of corporate culture.

It is said that HR joins Marketing in defining the company brand, as customer satisfaction and top talent go hand in hand. Your brand is to a large extent defined by your employees, who ultimately build the company’s culture. Therefore, you attract the people you are looking for by creating a culture that conveys the right message. In today’s transparent environment, you have to walk the walk. Implemented corporate values, a clear mission and vision, internal communication platforms, mentorship programmes and events are key in creating a corporate culture that shines from the inside and out. People value purpose – and corporate culture provides just that.

2. Redefining ‘diversity’.

Funnily, the terms “diversity and inclusion” have become more inclusive in themselves.[2] Diversity no longer refers to gender, race, LGBTQIA status or religion; that kind of diversity is obvious, and taken for granted. A diverse workplace now also incorporates factors such as:

  • Geographic location. Diversity includes an interaction of remote workers and onsite team members. Flexible hours, digital projects and private responsibility are key words in this kind of environment. [3]
  • Generational diversity. For the first time in history, the modern workplace embraces up to five generations and their respective skills sets and communications. [4]
  • Education levels. Modern companies, especially tech giants, no longer require a four-year university degree. Rather, they look for the necessary skills and personality traits that suits the position.

3. Supporting a flexible work culture.

Connecting the two abovementioned points, a modern corporate culture that includes geographic diversity inevitably involves a positive attitude toward a flexible work culture.

As technology evolved, work pivoted from 9-to-5 to a 24-hour cycle, in which employees have the liberty to design their own preferences based on their lifestyles. Of course, this is based on a steady communication between employees and managers to arrange meetings, deadlines and division of work. All in all, however, the individual is free to decide his or her own hours, whether that’s the ability to work remotely or work during off hours.

Allowing remote work has shown to attract more top talent, with higher engagement rates and more employee satisfaction. [5] A recent study found that 78% of employees feel more productive in a flexible work arrangement.[6] Ultimately, your employees will stay longer, provide you with better outputs and lower office costs. The price? Using video call instead of face to face meetings.

By driving initiatives that address and anticipate the team’s needs, and pays attention to each individual, HR will play a pivotal role in developing a modern, successful workforce.

Author: Alexandra Teorell, 19/3-19


Sources:

Balkhi, Syed. Want to Find the Best Remote Talent This Year? Here Are the 5 Best Job Sites to Try (2018). https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/309994

Noyes, Jesse: 7 Big Statistics About the State of Flexible Work Arrangements, (2018)https://www.zenefits.com/blog/7-big-statistics-about-the-state-of-flexible-work-arrangements/

Harte, Zoe: The Future Is Now: Three HR Trends That Will Transform Your Organization In 2019 (2019)https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbeshumanresourcescouncil/2019/01/30/the-future-is-now-three-hr-trends-that-will-transform-your-organization-in-2019/#69897b85e9ce

Fry, Richard. Millennials are the largest generation in the U.S. labor force (2018) http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2018/04/11/millennials-largest-generation-us-labor-force/

Farrer, Laurel. Remote Working: Is It More Than A Trend? (2019) https://www.forbes.com/sites/laurelfarrer/2019/02/01/remote-working-is-it-more-than-a-trend/#50cb22f37fdf


[1] Harte (2019).

[2] Harte (2019).

[3] Farrer (2019).

[4] Fry (2018).

[5] Balkhi (2018).

[6] Noyes (2018).