Lots of people have been asking how I have enjoyed my job here so far. I haven’t talked about it much – mostly because, like any job, its pretty boring to read about. If you’ve read the “sun” blog, you know that I’ve been working a little later than normal lately. But the last few weeks have actually been pretty fun.
When I was offered the job, I was told that it would give me great visibility throughout the company. This has definitely been true on this latest project, where I have been building the Services presentations that will be given to the Ericsson board (services is pretty much anything from Ericsson that does not involve telecom equipment). I did a quick check the other day, and the board includes the former CEO’s of Volvo and Electrolux (same gentleman), DirectTV, British Telecom, the founder of Vodafone, and most impressively, a member of the Advisory Board at University of Rhode Island (rhody in da house!)
Needless to say, putting together a board presentation gave me and my manager reason to talk to people throughout our organization. While normally I work closely with the strategy managers in each product area, now I was part of the working meetings with the heads of each product line. We only have 3 of these lines in the Services business, so they are pretty busy folks. Once we worked out all the details with this team, we then moved on to have even smaller working meetings with the head of our Services team.
Services generates over 40% of Ericsson revenues, so it was even harder to get time with him. When we did, it was my manager and I, the Services CFO, the Services head and one other member of their team. It seemed like a very closely knit group that was more collegial than I had expected – they even managed to take a fun little dig at me when talking about the impact of currency fluctuations caused by the banana republic that they do business with (‘merica), followed by a wry smile. We spent this meeting talking about how the presentation we had originally pulled together matched what the head of our group wanted to present to the board. In general we were very much in line, but the hard part was finding the balance between granular details and high-level strategic views.
After updating the presentation to reflect some of these changes, Services management was walking through the presentation with the CEO of Ericsson. I wasn’t able to be part of that meeting, but within an hour my manager was emailed with direct comments on our deck from the CEO. His target for the presentation was slightly different from what the Services goal was, which required another few nights of updating things. Once we get to this level, pretty much any comments are not requests to be discussed, but line items to be completed. At the end of this batch of revisions, we heard that our presentation was the best of the 3-4 presentations being given to the board, which pleased a number of people, including my boss, my bosses boss, my bosses bosses boss and the CEO. I'll take it.
Overall, being part of small meetings with so many of the top folks in the company is interesting. Even when I am dealing with just the top management at Ericsson, it is fascinating to see how each tier has a different point of view on what is really important and needs to be stressed to the board. Hearing how each group thinks about things, how they wants to present things, and what they feel is relevant to the board members is something I wouldn't be able to experience at many places.
When I was in consulting, I did a lot of really interesting projects, but mostly interacted with mid/high level managers. I figured that when I left consulting to go to a corporate gig, I would lose that management access, but instead, even at the earlier stages of this project, I was dealing with much more senior executives. It really has made the last few weeks fun, even if I have seen a few too many Swedish sunsets from my desk…