Stockholm, Sweden



Upon arrival in Stockholm, it was apparent that the Swedish culture remained strong, even in a bigger metropolitan city. At Keolis, a transportation company based out of France, has become the first bus transportation company to utilize fossil free fuel (they are using biodiesel such as HVO, ethanol and gas) in Sweden. Keolis currently has a human driven, scheduled and route based operation. Their goal is to be computer driven, on-demand and ad-hoc to be more flexible.  Although the office we visited in Stockholm embraces Swedish values such as collaboration and group consensus in decision making, the company is headquartered in France so their way of conducting business encompasses both cultures. It was insightful to take a peek at how 2 international companies work with each other. What tied both cultures together was their motivating statement which was to “think like a passenger” and by doing so, Keolis has secured contracts around the world which has positioned them to drive past their competition.

In addition to Keolis, we also visited a niche newspaper company (Society Today), a company that wants to turn mobile phones into the modern version of credit cards (Seamless), a creator and distributor of digital media (New Media TV), the first central bank in the world that was founded in the 1600’s (Sveriges Riksbank), a lithium battery company that utilizes Sweden hydroplants to run their operations therefore being the lowest energy cost in the world (Northvolt) and last but definitely not least, a music streaming company (Spotify).

Music to my ears: Spotify

For me, the main highlight of all of our visits in Stockholm was indeed Spotify, a “value-based” company. Hearing Spotify’s CHRO, Katarina Berg, talk about the importance of company culture and equality in the workplace was most definitely inspirational. Spotify currently has 2,400 employees, with 44 offices in 60+ markets and are in constant growth mode since they are hiring approximately 100 people per month.

Their Talent Acquisition team hires the “right talent” with a focus on culture. Spotify’s culture is all about growth and innovation  (business and personal). Their talent development model encompasses 70% on the job learning, 20% feedback and 10% structured learning. In order to remain a good fit for Spotify, employees “own” their growth opportunities /development so they must be autonomous, honest, demonstrate a sense of belonging and benevolent. By hiring and retaining employees in such a manner, Spotify is able to distinguish themselves from their competitors by dancing to their own beat.