“Humanizing Technology”

Pernilla Wikman, Head of Global Business at Telia Company in Stockholm

Pernilla Wikman is obsessed with two things – to keep moving forward and to make technology more human. She is an energetic whirlwind who is always on the move. To keep her work life agile, she has established a self-managing team structure without leaders. And her team is proving themselves time after time. Let’s get to know this woman at a moment when we managed to pin her down and make an interview.

Pernilla Wikman

Making tech human

“I think that by making things understandable and intuitive, everything can be improved. Basically, the techier we are, the more human we need to become. And by humanizing technology more individuals will connect to it and it will be valuable to more people and companies. This is my mission and what I truly believe in.”

What makes a business fly?

“This is the key question I keep on coming back to. And I never accept techy and complicated answers. I am a nerd when it comes to understanding a business and to explain it in a way that the real value comes through. When we can explain business dynamics in simple and human ways, we get people on board and we can develop the solutions we need to make businesses fly. This doesn’t mean that the solutions have less complex technology, it just means that the technology is there for the right reason, serving the right purpose and creating value for the right people.”

The wilderness is part of my nature

”I was born and raised close to mountains and nature. Out there, I learned at an early age that I am part of an eco-system. And everything in the system plays an important role, regardless if you are a small flower, a big tree, a bear or a human being – you should treat everyone and everything else with respect. During my upbringing we went outside as often as we could, we were hiking, skiing and berry picking together. And I still have a strong need to break out of my daily routines and head out into nature to find peace of mind. To exercise or simply meditate for a while. This notion of how everything is connected in a massive eco-system, is something that I have brought with me over the years. And something I find as true for business as it is for life.”

A humanist in the world of tech

“I have studied at universities in the north of Sweden and have degrees in both Media & Communications and in Economics. Still, I have spent my whole professional life in the tech industry, in telecoms and in IT. Don’t get me wrong, I am passionate about technology. But I am also convinced that we need to integrate technology, people, nature and society into one co-existing eco-system. Only then can we get the best out of everything.”

The power of movement

“I am an active, curious person and I always want to move forward. To ensure that me and my team are developing fast enough to stay relevant, we have created and a new learning platform. To me, staying curious and keep on learning are fundamental to staying competitive as a company. And personally, I think it is an inspiration in our everyday work life environment. One part of the platform is self-managing teams.”

Leaderless doesn’t mean directionless

“My responsibility in the self-managing team is to set a clear direction, be very clear on why it is the right direction and set at frame for the team. The team decide how to get there and make sure that we deliver. But that visionary contribution, doesn’t mean that I take on a daily leader role – on a day-to-day basis, I am just as any other member of the team working to find the best way forward together. I have a belief that this builds true leadership; to point out direction and support others to grow. This is early days, but I do believe that leaderless teams are the way forward where we move from a “control – react to sense – response” behavior.”

I am also here to tear silos a part

“I love to see people step up and perform at their best capacity, and my role is to make that happen. One way I do this is by being meticulous in composing the teams. I try to mirror the society in the way I put together teams and I always embrace diversity. When the teams are in place, I work for tearing silos a part in our business to make more teams comes together – then magic starts to happen. Nothing is sacred – units, control systems, processes, old ways of working, are all under scrutiny. But I also support people by providing new ideas, new ways of working, new perspectives and new colleagues to be inspired by.”

Creating a world for humans by humans

“Moving forward, we need to get back to the roots and understand that a business is built by people for people. I want to be part of creating new businesses, build for humans by humans.”

 

infographic Pernilla WikmanWhen business dynamics are clarified in simple and human ways, we get people on board and we can develop the solutions we need to make businesses fly. This doesn’t mean that the solutions have less complex technology, it just means that the technology is there for the right reason, serving the right purpose and creating value for the right people.

Advice I wish I got when I was at university

  1. Be yourself
  2. Stay curious
  3. Keep on learning

Facts


Education

I have a Bachelor’s degree in Media & Communications and a Master´s degree in Economics.

Life before Telia

During my student years I had several jobs but the two I enjoyed most was with elderly people as they
have got so many perspectives to share and as a spinning instructor because I had the opportunity to get people to give a little more than they think they have. But my first job after my studies was at Telia in Sundsvall where I lived
at that time. After that I worked for several years in IT – always in an international context and almost always as a leader.

Life outside work

Family, friends, painting, writing, reading and being out in nature. I have a strong need to learn and try new things, which makes my life outside work very varied.

Family?

Twins who are seventeen years old my biggest mentees in life and an entrepreneurial husband who is my
greatest coach.

Something you didn´t know about me

One of my goals this year was to attend a movie production to learn how it´s done, so I got the opportunity to join as an extra on the new Smart Cash movie. You will probably not see me on screen, but I learned a lot and I met amazing people that I would not have meet with if I hadn’t attended.