Interview with Håkan Persson, incoming CEO of Smoltek

Håkan Pers­son, with many years of expe­ri­ence from lead­ing and devel­op­ing list­ed tech­nol­o­gy com­pa­nies, will take over as CEO of Smoltek. He will join the com­pa­ny no lat­er than Octo­ber 15, maybe soon­er. In antic­i­pa­tion of his acces­sion, we have had a short Q&A with him.

Q: Can you pro­vide a short descrip­tion of your pro­fes­sion­al back­ground and chal­lenges you have been drawn to in the past?

A: I have worked in the IT indus­try my whole career. Both large and small com­pa­nies. Start­ed once at IBM as trainee. I have broad gen­er­al man­age­ment expe­ri­ence and capa­bil­i­ties from var­i­ous posi­tions as CEO, Sales & Mar­ket­ing Direc­tor and Busi­ness Devel­op­ment Exec­u­tive from large, mid-size and small orga­ni­za­tions. I have been CEO for Aspiro, Day­dream, Scal­a­do, Pre­cise Bio­met­rics and Neon­ode Inc, com­pa­nies work­ing with new and nov­el tech­nolo­gies try­ing to find their place in the mar­ket. In addi­tion, I have been Pres­i­dent Emea at Tele­l­og­ic and Coun­try man­ag­er for IBM Soft­ware Group in Sweden.

Most of my assign­ments have been cen­tered around change and growth, estab­lish­ing new busi­ness­es, or turn­ing around busi­ness­es that not yet have found their way to the market.

Q: What was it about Smoltek and its tech­nol­o­gy plat­form that made you inter­est­ed in becom­ing the company’s new CEO?

A: I like work­ing with excit­ing tech­nolo­gies. My edu­ca­tion­al back­ground is marketing/​sales and finance, but I have always had a good abil­i­ty to under­stand the val­ue of dif­fer­ent tech­nolo­gies, and this is what trig­gers me, how to make com­mer­cial use of the tech­nol­o­gy and to cre­ate cus­tomer and company/​shareholder value.

With respect to Smoltek I believe they have a dis­rup­tive tech­nol­o­gy and plat­form that can play an instru­men­tal part going for­ward in sev­er­al indus­tries to cre­ate more capac­i­ty in a small­er foot­print with less resource con­sump­tion cost effec­tive­ly. Prob­a­bly the chal­lenge here is not to find appli­ca­tion areas, there are many, but to decide on which to focus on.

Q: What are the main per­son­al strengths and expe­ri­ences you will bring to the Smoltek team?

A: I have worked a lot with commercializing/​industrializing tech­nol­o­gy com­pa­nies in the past, find­ing the rel­e­vant use cas­es to pur­sue and how to struc­tural­ly “pack­age” them to make an impact and to find the right customers/​partners to address.

Q: Can you give some exam­ples of what you have learned from your pre­vi­ous roles as CEO for list­ed tech­nol­o­gy companies?

A: To my expe­ri­ence the key ques­tions nor­mal­ly boils down to

What – what is our val­ue propo­si­tion, what prob­lem do we solve?

Who – who are the customers/​partners we should address?

How – how do we address them most efficiently?

and the over­ar­ch­ing question

Why – why are we rel­e­vant, what is it that makes us stand out, our unique sell­ing points?

If you can answer these ques­tions cor­rect­ly and build the accom­pa­ny­ing mate­r­i­al, plan and actions around these, you have cre­at­ed a good plat­form to become successful.

Q: How will you pre­pare for your new role before join­ing the com­pa­ny in October?

I will try to read up on the com­pa­ny and technology/​offering and meet as many peo­ple as pos­si­ble before I start so I can come in “fly­ing” with a view of my own when I start.

A: Based on your expe­ri­ence, what are the most impor­tant chal­lenges to over­come for small tech­nol­o­gy com­pa­nies when tak­ing dis­rup­tive new tech­nol­o­gy from con­cept to commercialization?

In my expe­ri­ence many com­pa­nies that I have worked with didn’t have clear answers to the ques­tions list­ed above but were too broad in their approach with­out a clear focus. A small com­pa­ny is very small in this con­text, so you need to focus, do the analy­sis, decide where you want to pri­or­i­tize, decide where to tar­get, get an angle and pur­sue it the whole way through.

Q: What is your view on the dis­rup­tive poten­tial of nan­otech­nol­o­gy in areas such as semi­con­duc­tor appli­ca­tions, ener­gy storage/​conversion and biotechnology?

A: I need to more about the com­pa­ny, the team and the tech­nol­o­gy to pro­vide a good answer to this ques­tion but, gen­er­al­ly speak­ing nan­otech­nol­o­gy is a “hot” top­ic and have been so for some time. Nan­otech­nol­o­gy pro­vides the capa­bil­i­ties that every­body is look­ing for, more capac­i­ty in ever small­er for­mats con­sum­ing less pow­er. Prob­a­bly the appli­ca­tion areas over time will be end­less, hence the need to focus to get an inroad and plat­form to build from.

Q: What do you enjoy doing when not working?

A: I like to exer­cise, be with my fam­i­ly and to trav­el. I have my daugh­ter and grand­son in Gothen­burg, so I look for­ward to meet­ing them more frequently.

Q: Any­thing you would like to add that could be of inter­est to Smoltek’s shareholders?

A: I am very much look­ing for­ward to tak­ing on this assign­ment. This is the kind of com­pa­ny I real­ly enjoy work­ing with. I see the poten­tial in the com­pa­ny and the tech­nol­o­gy and is look­ing for­ward to the jour­ney mak­ing the com­pa­ny a suc­cess and to cre­ate sub­stan­tial val­ue for all stakeholders.

As I am liv­ing in Höl­lviken, out­side Malmö, I will find an apart­ment in Gothenburg.

The Smoltek team wel­comes Håkan, and is looks for­ward to work­ing with him.

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