“Taking initiatives and having a solution oriented attitude lie in my genes”

Both on the football field and at Volvo Penta, Stina believes in the strength of having the right person at the right position to get the best potential out of the team. She believes that with the right prerequisites we can accomplish great things together and it is her job to make sure her team members can work to their full capacity. Growing up in the forests of Sweden, Stina Eriksson has always been surrounded by technology and engines. Today, she works as a Technical Project Manager at Volvo Penta and designs technical solutions that help industrial businesses overcome their daily challenges.    

Hi, Stina! Tell me about your experience working with engines?

It all started when I studied Master of Science and Electrical Engineering with a focus on control systems at Chalmers University of Technology in Gothenburg, Sweden. During my education, some of the courses focused on powertrain and vehicle control systems, which led to my first contact with Volvo. Volvo as a company caught my interest with its technology, business challenges and skilled employees. I took the opportunity to learn more about Volvo Powertrain through a summer job, which led me to write my master thesis at the company.  After I graduated in 2005, I started working there full time.

My first role was related to diagnostic function development for engines and aftertreatment systems. Then I became a Project Manager for control system product development with responsibility for engine, gearboxes and aftertreatment system products. I very much enjoyed the Project Manager role and continued to lead different project teams within Volvo Powertrain. In the summer of 2015, I got my current job at Volvo Penta as Technical Project Manager within the industrial segment.

What a great start to your career! Have you always known you would end up working in this field?

I grew up on a farm in the forests of Värmland, Sweden, where my grandparents were self-employed farmers and forest workers. Parts of my family still have their own companies within different businesses, so the spirit of taking initiatives, finding solutions and focusing on the right things lie in my genes. That lifestyle makes you prioritize what you need to do to keep your business running, a mindset that I use in my work every day. Also, I believe my background helps me understand our customers and their needs even more. It is important to be curious in order to see and try new solutions. That requires a curious and solution oriented attitude and a fruitful cooperation with the right people at the right place.

I have always been interested in how to build new technical solutions, teams and organizations. Volvo Penta is a great workplace for me since it is a rather small company where each individual has large responsibility and also has the power to influence. In addition, I am surrounded by skilled and committed persons and we have many interesting products that we offer to many different customers, which makes the job really fun.

Tell me more about your job and the project you are involved in?

I work with a project called Stage V. The Stage V products shall fulfill the upcoming European emission legislation for the industrial business and I am responsible for product development, purchasing and production deliveries. In the beginning of the project it was important to define our customers’ needs to secure our delivery of a product optimized for their daily businesses. We defined what knowledge, experience and technology that was already available within the Volvo Group and then modified the available concepts to meet the specific needs of Volvo Penta’s customers. Once the Volvo Penta Stage V concepts were defined the overall project targets were broken down into specific activities, deliveries and dates. We defined what hardware, software, calibration and documentation development that was required as well as what resources and competences that were needed to make the project a success.

My role includes many different tasks, such as taking technical conceptual directions and having dialogues with product planning and sales. A lot of my focus revolves around creating a good communication between all the team members, defining what methods we need to use and having a clear image of how all the different parts will come together in the end. Another big part of my job is to promote our project message and work with the organisation to make sure everyone is aware of why we are doing this, what our target is and what resources and competences we need. Now, we are at the stage in the project where we finish tasks and close up all deliveries to secure the start of production in the beginning of year 2019.

Sounds exciting! Can you describe the design process of the product?

The challenge was to create one concept optimised for the wide range of different customers and balance the different needs from the different customer segments. Ease of installation and ease of operation are two of the product’s cornerstones. Once the product has been installed, it should be able to operate without disturbing the customer’s daily business. Three other very important aspects when designing the product were uptime, customer features and total cost of ownership. The product we designed is robust, smart and has low complexity. And, last but not least, to design a product that fulfills the new emission legislation is of course an enabler to put the product on the market.  

What is important for you in your role as Project Manager?

One of the most important things in my role as Project Manager is to have a strong team consisting of persons with great attitude. To build a strong team I believe in having team members with different talents, personalities and knowledge. To create a winning team dynamic, the team members need to work together towards the common target. Also, everyone has to be brave and willing to try new ideas and do it in a smart way. In my work, I am inspired by the slogan “Brave and Sharp”, a message that I also communicate to my team. It is also important for me to motivate my team members and give them the tools they need to do a good job. We are all dependent on each other and it is important for them to know why their jobs matter to both themselves, to the company and our customers. Having confidence and trust in each other allow everyone to grow in their roles. Also, one of the most important things is to have fun together     

I totally agree! So, what is the best part of your job?

The best part about my job is that I get to work with such great people. We are a very strong team and we get a lot of energy from each other. Another energy boost in my work is that I have many different tasks, I meet many different persons and I learn new things every day. Together, we design really interesting products and since we work in a small and flexible company, each individual gets a lot of responsibility and has the possibility to influence their work. What inspires me is building a team with different people and characteristics and together build a product from start to finish. The goal is to produce a product that fulfils or exceeds our customers’ expectations in their daily businesses. If we can accomplish that – no one is happier than me.   

You also have a background as a football player. Has that helped you in any way in your daily work at Volvo Penta?

For sure, sports and football has been a big part of my life. I loved being part of a team and feel the adrenaline when we were successful together. I learned that it is much easier to be strong when working as a team instead of being on your own, something that has helped me succeed in my daily work at Volvo Penta. My position on the field was defender, which gave me a great overview of the field and the team. So, there are more similarities to my days as a football player and my job at Volvo Penta than one might think!   

I guess you are right! So, how do you spend your days when not working?

I spend a lot of time with my two kids. We play a lot and enjoy nature as much as we can. In addition to my kids, I get a lot of energy from spending time with family and friends. I think that people really is my thing! I also love working out. I am a firm believer that physical activity is an important piece of the puzzle in order to stay healthy and feel good in general. A mindset that I think is really important to pass on to our kids. I am also a football coach for my son’s football team – so I have not ended my football career just yet!  

It sounds like you keep yourself busy both on and off work! Thank you so much for a great chat, Stina, and good luck with whatever challenges that come your way in the future!

I hope you enjoyed reading my interview with Stina Eriksson. Would you like to know more about Volvo Penta, our solutions or how we work? Please visit our website, interact with us on social media and read more blog articles on our professional power blog.

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