Under Håkan Samuelsson’s leadership, Volvo Cars has grown at every level and is expected to break new records this year!!!
Now, he’s being honored as the corporate leader of the year by the business press in Europe. “It’s very exciting and a big honor for everyone at Volvo. I haven’t done it all by myself, of course!” he says.
The European Business Press (EBP), the international organization with some 40 business newspapers in 23 countries, is awarding Håkan Samuelsson with the European Manager of the Year prize “for his way of successfully transforming and digitalizing one of Sweden’s – and Europe’s – strongest automotive brands.”
Three Swedes have previously won the prize since its founding in 1991: Ingvar Kamprad, Percy Barnevik and Cristina Stenbeck.
Håkan Samuelsson has a background in the truck world as head of Scania and CEO for Germany’s MAN, and was appointed to Volvo Cars’ board of directors after Chinese auto giant Geely became the owner in 2010. He took over as CEO in 2012 when times were tough for Volvo and cost-savings were necessary. Sales had declined and the company barely managed to break even.
“Through his goal-oriented and acclaimed leadership, he’s doubled revenues since then, increased sales from 400,000 to 600,000 cars per year, increased profits from zero to what is expected to be SEK 15 billion this year and strengthened the position of a reliable premium car brand,” the EBP’s statement on Samuelsson’s receiving the award continues.
How big can Volvo Cars become?
“We’ve grown about 10 percent per year. It’s not impossible for us to continue to do so in the future if we do it in the right way. If we offer electrification and cars that customers want to have, self-driving technology and new ways of access to cars. It means that Volvo will be a significantly bigger company and above all, a profitable company in a class with the best in the market,” says Samuelsson.
You turned 67 in March, how long do you expect to continue as Volvo CEO?
“Until they fire me,” he says with a laugh before continuing. “I don’t know. There are many exciting things happening now until 2020, as we reach our goals and release all the cars. So I’ll be continuing until then in any case. This is the job I’ve had the longest, which is nice. When I started, people complained that there had been so many changes and new managers but now they’ve gotten someone who’s broken a personal record in this position.”
Volvo Cars has a goal of selling 800,000 cars in 2020. The owners are also moving further with plans for an IPO. What’s your opinion as CEO?
“I don’t believe that it’s a feather in my cap. I think it’s incredibly exciting to work with Volvo with all the challenges we have and with the people who work here. Then it makes no difference if we’re privately owned or listed on the stock exchange. I don’t think one is better than the other,” says Samuelsson.
How would you describe your leadership?
“Openness is something I see as important. I tell it like it is and try not to make it complicated. And I’m very curious. I am always wondering how we compare with others and have a lot of questions when it comes to the details. That’s the secret. To be genuinely interested and not just pretend to be interested. The questions then should follow naturally,” he says.
“Then I can actually change my mind about things. It requires a certain self-confidence to dare to do that, and that’s something I’ve realized over the years.”
During a ceremony on Thursday evening in Copenhagen, Håkan Samuelsson received the prize from EBP’s chairman Hans-Jacob Bonnier and Lotta Edling, head of journalism development for Bonnier News. Dagens industri and Veckans Affärer, both part of Bonnier News, are members of EBP along with the Wall Street Journal Europe, the France’s Les Echos and Germany’s Handelsblatt, among others.
KARIN OLANDER/DAGENS INDUSTRI
European Business Press Prizewinners from the past 10 years:
2016: Christina Stenbeck - Kinnevik
2015: Attila Doguden - DO&CO
2014: Tom Enders - Airbus
2013: Matias Doepfner - Axel Springer
2012: Luca di Montezemolo - Ferrari
2011: Ilja Laurs - GetJar
2010: Wolfgang Mayrhofer - Lufthansa
2009: Matti Alahuhta - KONE
2008: Wendelin Wiedeking - Porsche
European Business Press statement on the Award:
Håkan Samuelsson is named “European Manager of the Year” for his way of successfully transforming and digitalizing one of Sweden’s – and Europe’s – strongest automotive brands. When he took over the role as CEO in 2012, Volvo found itself in a difficult position. Through his goal-oriented and acclaimed leadership, he’s doubled revenues since then, increased sales from 400,000 to 600,000 cars per year, increased profits from zero to what is expected to be SEK 15 billion this year and strengthened the position of a reliable premium car brand. Samuelsson has succeeded in being a link between Volvo’s Swedish heritage and the visions of Chinese owner Geely. As he shortly leads the company in an IPO, it’s a grand finale to one part of his story – and the beginning of a new chapter.