THREE QUICK ONES – KERSTIN THULIN

3 quick ones to Kerstin Thulin new board member of SSLBC. She has a long international career in leading positions within IT, telecom, and shipping. Kerstin has worked in Sri Lanka, Oman, India, and several African countries.  

What is your relationship with Sri Lanka?

I first came to Sri Lanka in 1983 when I had the opportunity to adopt one of my daughters. It was an overwhelming experience during the burning civil war. In 1996, I was asked to help set up the telecom company Suntel in Sri Lanka with responsibility for HR, organization and culture. It was an intense two years where I got to meet a competent and language-savvy workforce. Many years later, I was asked to sit on the board of the Sri Lankan Children’s Association (SLBV), supporting vulnerable children and young people to make a difference in their lives and futures.

What are your driving forces?

Basically, I am a curious and stubborn entrepreneur. I have a curiosity for people and cultures – not only corporate culture. I want to help build value-driven organizations, which has been a common thread throughout my career. When I started my career, the HR function was relatively obscure, reporting to the Chief Financial Officer. A lot has happened since then. I have sat on several management teams of international telecom companies with responsibility for HR and Organization. Modern organizations need to value culture and organizational issues as business critical. There is no alternative.

What do you want to contribute to the work of the board?

I hope to contribute with my many years of experience within IT and telecom. Sri Lanka has a growing high-end IT sector. Too few in the Swedish business community are aware of this. I want to help raise awareness, both of the sector specifically and of Sri Lanka in general. I also hope to share my experience of developing corporate cultures and value-driven organizations with our members in various ways.

What is your relationship with Sri Lanka?

I first came to Sri Lanka in 1983 when I had the opportunity to adopt one of my daughters. It was an overwhelming experience during the burning civil war. In 1996, I was asked to help set up the telecom company Suntel in Sri Lanka with responsibility for HR, organization and culture. It was an intense two years where I got to meet a competent and language-savvy workforce. Many years later, I was asked to sit on the board of the Sri Lankan Children’s Association (SLBV), supporting vulnerable children and young people to make a difference in their lives and futures.

What are your driving forces?

Basically, I am a curious and stubborn entrepreneur. I have a curiosity for people and cultures – not only corporate culture. I want to help build value-driven organizations, which has been a common thread throughout my career. When I started my career, the HR function was relatively obscure, reporting to the Chief Financial Officer. A lot has happened since then. I have sat on several management teams of international telecom companies with responsibility for HR and Organization. Modern organizations need to value culture and organizational issues as business critical. There is no alternative.

What do you want to contribute to the work of the board?

I hope to contribute with my many years of experience within IT and telecom. Sri Lanka has a growing high-end IT sector. Too few in the Swedish business community are aware of this. I want to help raise awareness, both of the sector specifically and of Sri Lanka in general. I also hope to share my experience of developing corporate cultures and value-driven organizations with our members in various ways.

THREE QUICK ONES – CECILIA OSKARSSON, TRADE COMMISSIONER OF SWEDEN, INDIA&SRI LANKA

3 quick questions to Cecilia Oskarsson trade commissioner of Sweden to India at Business Sweden about export opportunities to South Asia, support from Business Sweden when exporting to Sri Lanka, and best tips to Sri Lanka – for business and pleasure.

Most Swedish exports still go to countries close to Sweden. How can we get more Swedish export companies to discover South Asia and especially Sri Lanka?

Being near your own market works to a large extent as risk management – you know the culture and how to do business in the area. When you are looking to enter a market further away, you need to get the knowledge on how to act, what constitutes the legal structure, how do you conduct business and what is considered as a complete no-no there.

The Sweden-Sri Lanka Business Council is doing great work and this should be leveraged – Knowledge about Sri Lanka can be spread across by the Council to showcase good business cases. There is huge potential in showcasing the possibilities and for the Council to be a hand to hold in the learning journey. Business Sweden can extend its support for creating long-term and feasible relationships.

There are great business opportunities for Swedish companies, not least because environmental sustainability poses as one of the region’s greatest challenges, leading to a large appetite for new, sustainable innovation. And this, of course, is the hallmark of Swedish companies.

How can Business Sweden assist Swedish companies that want to export to Sri Lanka?

Our cross-cultural teams offer practical assistance and in-depth knowledge about local business conditions. Contact us today to:

Analyse Sri Lanka as your next market

Find local partners

Identify the right distribution channels

Find new customers

Look at strategies for market expansion in Sri Lanka

Accelerate your sales in Sri Lanka

Our cross-cultural teams offer practical assistance and in-depth knowledge about local business conditions. Contact us today to:

Analyse Sri Lanka as your next market

Find local partners

Identify the right distribution channels

Find new customers

Look at strategies for market expansion in Sri Lanka

Accelerate your sales in Sri Lanka

You have visited Sri Lanka several times. What are your best tips?

For Business – have people on the ground. It is imperative to partner up with the right partner. Do your homework well before entering by talking to partners who have local experience. Sri Lanka is a strategically placed island with much to offer and hence can be a lucrative partner.

Pleasure – more than 10 years ago since I was last there, but fascinating that you have everything: the beach, natural parks, hiking, and mountains. Very much looking forward to coming back very soon. Ceylon tea gives you the best start of the day!

THREE QUICK ONES – HÅKAN LORD, CEO SOFTONE GROUP

3 quick questions to Håkan Lord, CEO of SoftOne Group, about IT development in Sri Lanka. SoftOne is a Swedish software company that offers a cloud based SaaS business system. The company was founded in 1985 by Håkan Lord, who is still the CEO. Two years ago, SoftOne acquired a company with operations in Sri Lanka. Today, SoftOne has a growing development team in Sri Lanka and is a member of the SSLBC.

What is your overall experience of working with Sri Lanka?

We soon realized what a golden nugget we had acquired. The competence of our Sri Lankan colleagues is very high. This also applies to language skills. Everyone speaks superb English. Recruitment is relatively easy, and loyalty is strong – the relationships created are long term. Multiculturalism is evident and an asset, as is the fact that the country is a democracy and has a distinct soul. It is also easy to combine business with pleasure – Sri Lanka is a great place to visit.

How do you work with the development team in Sri Lanka?

It is our tech team that is situated in Sri Lanka. The team works together with our three development teams in Sweden and Finland. This division works very well. The team in Sri Lanka does not need to have knowledge of specific domain areas such as payroll or tax. The long term ambition is to integrate our teams more. This is important so that we can constantly refine our technology.

What are the objectives for the Sri Lankan operation? We will develop it step by step. The long term ambition is to have two to three teams in Sri Lanka. We will also strengthen the integration between the operations in Sweden, Finland and in Sri Lanka. This means, among other things, that some of our Swedish developers are planning to travel to Sri Lanka this fall to work from there for a period. We are clearly on the same level and work towards common goals.