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Stefan Dahlin

Age: 47, regional manager, Hercules Grundläggning AB, Sweden

This article is also available in: Swedish

Route to the job
Having completed my four-year course at technical high school majoring in construction I worked for a pile manufacturer for a year. I then moved into the construction side with Hercules where I worked as a works manager in the Stockholm area till 1989. During this period I also spent 18 months in East Germany on a port project and six months in London as a works manager at Hercules Piling.
I then became a production manager with responsibility for construction operations in the Stockholm area up to 1996. For the next five years I was with the Skanska/Stabilator international section which included two years in the USA.
On my return to Sweden I rejoined Hercules. In 2001 Hercules started its soil improvement division and I was appointed division manager, including its subsidiary company Hercules Trevi Foundations.

Typical day
No two days are the same. I travel a great deal, as our business direction is half Sweden, half international. A working day for me can include anything from customer contact to seeing the guys out on site. As I don't spend much time in the office, great back up is very important for me.

Highs and lows
Naturally a high point is winning a contract in a market where we don't usually work. I really appreciate getting involved with other people from other countries with different values. That is the best part of my job.
On the other hand, the routine work is a bit boring. I stay pretty much on top of paperwork and documentation for projects and know how things are going. But I don't have a great deal of enthusiasm for things not closely related to production.
One downside in this sector is that it is incredibly cost competitive. Quality and "a good job" are rarely appreciated, it is usually the lowest price that prevails. But things are beginning to change in this area, something that is absolutely necessary.

My aim has been to create an operation that works, and from its base in Sweden to be able to work internationally and to find working partners for our company that are not too small to be able to work on their own at various locations round the world. This includes being in contact with many different people, in principle all the time and everywhere. One minute you have to be able to sit down and discuss large contracts, the next day you might be out with the guys and suppliers talking about anything and everything from work related matters to football! You have to adapt to every situation

You need to be flexible. You must have a goal and a direction, but things don't always go exactly as planned and you must be prepared to dart off in all directions. Develop a business plan, how you intend to succeed in something - or at least what goals you have set yourself both personally and professionally. Then you can keep check on how you are doing and if something goes wrong; at least you will then understand your line of thinking at any point in time.