“It’s essential to be open to external influences and get continuous training in order to be a driving force”

With an aim to develop his skills in change management and strategic leadership, Mats Persson, Division Director at Element Metech, will start the Leading IMPACT management program on October 9. 

Hello Mats. You work at Element Metech. Tell us about the company.
Element, whose history dates way back to 1827, is one of the world’s fastest growing companies in the Testing, Inspection and Certification (TIC) sector. We offer accredited services in materials testing, product testing, calibration and certification to industry and government agencies with high quality standards, in industries like aerospace, oil and gas, automotive and engineering, and construction and infrastructure. 

How would you describe your role as division director?
As division director, I lead one of five divisions in the sector we call aerospace. I’m in charge of 27 test and calibration sites that are spread across Europe in Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Germany, the Czech Republic and Hungary. My division has about 500 employees in total and is headquartered in Linköping. 

And you’re also the managing director and chairman of the board?
Since Element Sweden consists of three legal entities – Element Materials Technology AB, Element Metech AB, and a general holding company – I also serve as managing director and chairman of the board of these companies. In addition, Element Metech AB is the holding company for our foreign subsidiaries, where I serve as chairman of the board, and for a partly owned Swedish company called CSM NDT AB. 

How would you describe your leadership style?
Unpretentious and easy-going. I try to build a team that values frank, open discussions the most. I seek to underpin decisions and strategies based on facts and discussions. A mix of streamlining and continuous improvement with stable and robust processes is my recipe for success. When communicating, I am clear about my message and what I want, but I am always open to suggestions and change. I have quite a “red” personality type, so I have to keep this in mind and take the time to listen and see things from different perspectives. 

What challenges do you face?
My biggest challenges lie in time management and communication. At the pace we work, it’s difficult to communicate to the whole organization to an appropriate extent. Communications also need to be adapted depending on local cultural differences. We are making every effort to change the company culture and figure out how to meet future requirements and needs. 

You’re starting Leading IMPACT on October 9. What made you choose Leading IMPACT?
Since I spent many years in the same industry and the same company, I think it’s essential to be open to external influences and get continuous training and development in order to be a driving force. I have previously tried to develop by taking various university courses, but now I felt it was time to take a deep dive.  

And why did you choose Leading IMPACT over other management programs at the same level?
The design and the structure got me hooked – they’re more tailored to reality and the business as opposed to theory and the literature. 

What do you look forward to developing most in the program?
Two things, mainly: change management and tools to help me keep up with a changing world, and developing my strategic leadership skills.