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SSE Corporate Partners join top 50 leaders in tech

Leaders at several Corporate Partners have been named top 50 leaders in tech in Sweden 2022 by IDG. Two of them are Vahid Zohali, CEO at IBM Sweden, and Liselotte Andersson, working in Strategy and Business Development at Coop.

Vahid Zohali, CEO at IBM Sweden

SSE is proud to have a long-standing partnership with IBM and we are thrilled to see that Vahid Zohali, CEO at IBM Sweden, was named one of the top 50 in tech in Sweden 2022. Vahid was nominated for highlighting how diversity and gender equality can lift businesses to new heights. According to Vahid, diversity is crucial for businesses:

If you actively and consciously work to build multifaceted teams and to encourage a culture where differences and thus different ideas are welcomed and taken advantage of, you have the conditions to deliver the absolute best to your customers, each other, and society at large”, he says. “It is simply impossible to offer the best products and services to a society that you are not reflecting”.

Vahid argues that diversity is also about creating a sustainable work environment in which all employees feel welcome.

When you as a company reflect the society you are a part of, you create stronger trust and commitment among employees. A workplace with diversity that you recognize yourself in, where you can be yourself, where you get a chance to speak and develop, where you thrive and which you want others to be a part of – that itself is the key to success”, Vahid says.

Education is key

IBM has invested heavily in education in order to create a diverse and equal workplace. This aligns with SSE's vision and mission of fostering research and science-based education.

Many may expect that our time is mostly spent on technical education when much of our time is actually spent educating ourselves on issues of humanity. For example, everyone at IBM is expected to actively work for an environment that is free from discrimination, harassment, bullying, etc. We very clearly outline everyone's responsibilities when it comes to creating a good work environment in our Business Conduct Guidelines. We see the leaders as extra important in this work,” Vahid explains.

Additionally, leaders at IBM are measured by how well they work with diversity and inclusivity. This means that a leader’s involvement in these issues has a direct impact on their compensation.

On an external level, Vahid explains that IBM sees it as their responsibility to help counteract long-term social injustices, accessibility gaps and growing socio-economic disparities – both through technology and partnerships. Education is key in this area as well. IBM has several initiatives in Sweden aimed at increasing inclusivity and diversity, such as educating youth and teachers across all 290 municipalities in cyber security as part as part of #290CyberSecurity, partnering up with War Child in the initiative focusing on educating newly arrived girls in the field of IT, and Call for Code where developers from Sweden and across the world team up to address the biggest social injustices with help of technology and open source. These initiatives contribute to IBM's commitment of educating 30 million people by 2030.

SSE's educational mission FREE outlines these same values and this similar mindset gives our students, representing some of the future employees of our Corporate Partners, the keys to creating a better future and being more responsible leaders.


Vahid’s top tips for leaders in the digital age

  • As a leader, you should always ask yourself: how do I ensure a business that is socially, economically and environmentally sustainable?
  • Stay up to date on what opportunities diversity provides, how you can get it in place and how you manage and maximize the impact of diversity. It is an ongoing work and you can never do enough as a leader or company.
  • And last but certainly not least - stay up to date with the latest areas of data, AI and the cloud. Previously, it was possible to outsource technology to other departments or even external consultants. But today, technology is so closely associated with innovation, and since innovation is crucial for corporate survival, you as a leader need to embrace technology and innovation as part of your main mission.

Liselotte Andersson, working in Strategy and Business Development at Coop

Liselotte Andersson, previously CIO at Coop and now working with Strategy and Business Development, is nominated after going through the IT attack that knocked out 90 percent of Coop’s stores in the summer of 2021. Liselotte has been generous and open with the lessons learned after that experience. As a Corporate Partner and member of the Retail Club, Coop is an extremely valued partner for SSE and we are proud to see Liselotte receive this accolade. Liselotte has been in the tech industry for many years and sees a constant change:

What has characterized recent years is, among other things, the entire digitalization journey with a focus on customer and value delivery, a more agile way of working and faster and shorter time to market. We also see an increased focus on cyber security and life cycle management in recent years”, Liselotte explains.

Therefore, it is essential for SSE to work closely with Corporate Partners, like Coop, in order to understand the constant changes in different sectors, like the retail sector in this case, and prepare and educate our students to be able to face them in the best possible way.

Tech for the future

Coop works continuously with strengthened IT security protection, which also goes hand in hand with issues concerning personal privacy.

The latter also means that in recent years we have placed greater focus on ensuring that we follow regulations that have arisen around these issues, compliance has become important in a different way than before”, says Liselotte.

On her own part, Liselotte says that much focus has been on implementing large migration programs to get out of older systems that limit the development of Coop’s abilities, while also ensuring the possibility of a more agile development.

There are several programs within Coop. For example, implementing new membership offers and new ways of working with AI. We are also currently building a fully automated warehouse in Eskilstuna and developing new platforms for certain core processes”, Liselotte explains.

As an SSE Corporate Partner, Coop organizes several workshops for our students where the students get to hear firsthand what companies like Coop need and look for in future employees - digitalization and AI being key areas.

Liselotte’s top tips for leaders in the digital age

  • One of the most important things is to develop employee skills and attract new ones to have the very best conditions for success in the implementation.
  • It is important to continuously ensure that we have the right tech partners with us in the implementation so that together we can achieve development with the help of new technology and new ways of working.
  • A new form of leadership is required today. It is about making self-organized teams work and that we as leaders need to find a new leadership role that will support these teams. It creates new opportunities - both for the teams and the leader. A digital way of working creates opportunities to develop on several fronts - an incredibly fun job!
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