Meet Louise Hallqvist
Taking on new challenges does not come naturally to Louise Hallqvist. But she has gotten increasingly comfortable saying "yes" to new opportunities throughout Skanska, and as a manager she strongly encourages others to do the same. Here, she shares her perspective on why managers should be generous in encouraging team members to broaden their Skanska experiences.
Louise Hallqvist joined Skanska 10 years ago in the accounting department of Skanska Financial Services. After three years, she accepted a role with Skanska AB in Group Support Unit Controlling, eventually becoming Senior Vice President of Controlling. In that role, she directly supported Skanska’s Senior Executive Team (SET). Then, she took on her current role as Chief Financial Officer of Skanska Commercial Development Nordic (CDN). She did all of this while remaining in Stockholm, and while further broadening her Skanska experience by serving on several short-term task forces of up to six months.
How have you benefited from your wide range of experiences at Skanska?
By working in various parts of Skanska, you gain broader understandings of the company and our business and make connections – all of this helps you in other roles. As Skanska Commercial Development Nordic’s CFO, part of my role is keeping track of what is happening in other parts of the Group to understand how it could affect this Business Unit. It is easier for me to do that having had various Skanska assignments. I think everyone can benefit from taking different roles in Skanska.
Why do you recruit from other parts of Skanska?
When we recruit people to Skanska Commercial Development Nordic’s Finance Department, we often recruit from other Skanska units. It is always easy to get them up and running and contributing to our team because they know Skanska. We benefit a lot from their Skanska experiences, networks and knowledge.
Likewise, I encourage people from my team to work in other parts of Skanska. We should see ourselves as Skanska employees rather than seeing ourselves as belonging to one Business Unit. I certainly see myself like that.
As a manager, isn’t it challenging when a team member leaves for another Skanska assignment?
In the short term, it will create a hole in your team. But in the long run, you need to be generous. Part of that is people want to develop in their careers, and managers need to help them do that.
How have task forces helped you learn about the Group?
From time to time, Skanska sets up internal task forces that typically last three to six months. These involve people from different parts of the Group who are charged with developing recommendations to help with a challenge. This is a really powerful approach because it results in solutions based on experiences within Skanska, which helps others to accept them, and it develops the people who are taking part in the task forces. I have broadened my Skanska network and knowledge through being part of several task forces, including those about long-term forecasting, external reporting and procuring new auditors.
What advice do you have for managers regarding enabling their team members to broaden their Skanska careers?
Don’t be selfish as a manager – encourage people to experience more of Skanska. To grow professionally, people need to stretch themselves with challenges that make them a little bit uncomfortable. It is fine to start with small things to get people out of their comfort zones, like being part of a task force.
Each new challenge for me has gotten a little easier because I am more used to stepping into the unknown. I have had more practice. So I recommend that managers train their people early in their careers to take on challenges. That will help them later on.