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Jonas Hasselberg, newly installed CEO of Swedish storage VAR Proact, has a very precise way about him.
When asked when he officially started in the chief executive role, he says 1 September, before quickly correcting it to 3 September, because that was a Monday “and that’s when I actually started in the office”.
That unwavering accuracy and commitment to detail may be part of the reason he was drafted in to head up the Sweden-based integrator as it sets itself the task of hitting higher revenue targets in the next few years.
Hasselberg took over the position from interim CEO Peter Javestad, who filled in after former chief exec Jason Clark stepped down early in 2018.
He transferred to Proact from Swedish telco Telia, where he headed the consumer business unit. What lessons did he learn at the consumer-facing telco that he plans to transfer to Proact?
“With Telia you are in the typical mass-market environment, and Proact is the extreme of that spectrum,” he explained.
“Telia – like any other telco – is all about delivering a service to the customer and expecting them to be happy with your service every month so they will remain loyal to you.
“The way we design our ability to meet the customers in the services business is actually very similar and I’ll bring that with me – how to build a professional services business, operationally and business-wise. I do have a lot to learn in terms of engaging with enterprise customers.”
‘Extra love’ for storage
Late last year, the VAR raised its financial outlook by setting up a target of achieving 10 per cent year-on-year revenue growth for the next three years.
Proact stated that it planned to achieve this by making a number of acqusitions, including in the UK, as well as developing its cloud services portfolio and improving its IT infrastructure offering.
Data storage, hybrid cloud, networking, security, applications and automation were also areas it cited as being of “increasing importance”.
The newly minted CEO affirmed this strategy, adding that the opportunities around data are of particular interest to the company.
“We are in a very sweet spot in terms of data and information management,” he said.
“A lot of things are happening around the use of data – artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, the Internet of Things (IoT), as well as the security and transport of data.
“Those are a few areas where we would be in interested in expanding our services portfolio beyond those that we already have.”
He adds that the development of its cloud services is due to the trends in the market as customers move to the public cloud. Proact is keen to embrace this move, but Hasselberg states that for the time being at least, most customers will be operating in a hybrid environment, utilising the cloud alongside their own legacy systems.
“Our role will continue to be to help our customers to be able to manage their infrastructure and data regardless of what that platform is,” he said.
“We want to give them the opportunity to run hybrid environments and put any application in where it makes the most sense. This is a good opportunity for us, and if we can do it right, we will help them to continue to focus on their business rather than focus on complex IT.”
Hasselberg is keen to emphasise that this embrace of the cloud will not affect the VAR’s commitment to its traditional storage business, stating that it will have the opposite effect.
“Customer desire to use the data in more business-related ways is rapidly growing,” he stated.
“Data and storage will always be a key part of our proposition. It has been a key part of our past success and I think it will continue to be an area where we put extra focus and extra love.”
Championing company culture
Settling into the chief exec role has been a pleasant experience for Hasselberg, who has already laid out plans for what he wants to contribute to Proact, on both a business and personal level.
Late last year, the firm raised its financial outlook by setting a target of 10 per cent year-on-year revenue growth for its next three financial years. It reported a two per cent growth for its overall group revenue of £279.6m for its full financial 2018.
Hitting this target is one of Hasselberg’s priorities as CEO, and he said it will be achieved through organic and inorganic routes.
Since stepping into his role he has been most impressed at how the company culture adapts to the geographies in which Proact has a presence, and he is keen to build on this.
“We operate in a very local manner specific to each country in which we operate – they are our primary commercial dimension,” he explained.
“I think we’ve been good at creating a culture that is shared across our different countries. That would be one of the cornerstones to build the future on, because that creates so much engagement and passion in our local teams for our customers.”
A happy workforce is another priority of Hasselberg’s, who added that he wants every employee in the company to feel a sense of achievement when financial targets are hit, as well as developing a desirable culture in which to work.
“Above delivering on financial targets, that is where I will put my efforts – continue to grow the culture and build a place that our employees and team members enjoy going to work every day,” he stated.
“Frankly, if I can create an environment where employees enjoy and have fun working in our company, then I will be happy.
“But I’ve only been here five months, so I’m not ready to speak about leaving a legacy just yet – quite the opposite in fact!”