Diary of an MBA #7: Being Jonas Samuelson

25 February 2011
Chris Atkins, author of Supply Management's Diary of an MBA blogI wonder what Jonas Samuelson has on his plate this morning? Skyrocketing raw material prices? The financial instability of leading retailers? Concluding a massive global restructuring of production facilities? Promoting the increased use of recycled plastics with his product design team? Mr Samuelson is the chief financial officer and chief operations officer major appliances at Electrolux, the global household goods manufacturer based in Sweden, and the current focus of my thoughts. The latest activity on my Durham MBA course is the “boardroom simulation” exercise. We're assembled in to groups and asked to play the role of a board of a major multinational company, researching and formulating suitable strategies for our company ahead of a board meeting early next month. The business school invite one of their friends from the corporate world with board experience to assume chairmanship and provide us with an authentic experience as possible. We're grappling with many common themes; environmental concerns, energy use, the rise of competitors from China and a shift to low-cost locations for operations. We're also keeping abreast of the situation in the Middle East as Electrolux have had to put on hold an acquisition of an Egyptian manufacturer. There's an expectation that we'll be able to react to any last minute updates. At the same time I'm tackling an assignment I have to write following my international human resources course, a really interesting few days looking at national cultural differences and how they impact upon organisations. The guru on this sort of stuff is a guy called Geert Hofstede, and I'd highly recommend perusing some of his findings on national characteristics. It is interesting to note the UK and the US score very low on “long-term orientation”. Perhaps our banks could have benefited from a more culturally diverse management team in recent years.
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