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  • Writer's pictureJames Eves

Go Where You'll Learn Something

During my MBA studies in Stockholm, I was fortunate to get to meet many fabulous and interesting people in the business world and beyond.

During one of our sessions on Leadership, our guest speaker was Bengt Baron.

He had internationally represented Sweden in swimming – winning medals at the 1980 and 1984 Olympics, the World and European Championships in the early 1980s, plus 33 Swedish titles.

At the time he was the CEO of V&S, the parent company of the well-known Absolut Vodka brand.

The words that stay with me even 15 years later from this charming and athletic figure?

“Go where you’ll learn something.”

Talking us through his career he had worked at some cool brands such as Coca Cola and Kodak.

At a crossroads in his career when looking for something different, he took on the role of leading a small Norwegian frozen sea food company.

He admitted that the reaction from many peers was not that positive or supportive.

“After all you’ve done why would you work for some lesser-known entity?” This was the gist of some of this feedback.

He took this on board but took the role anyway.

Much like the quote of “we can only connect the dots looking backwards”, as he told his story, he was looking forwards at that time and went there as he would learn something.

He knew it would lead to growth, would challenge him and create new opportunities.

He asked us “and do you know why I am now the CEO of V&S?”

“Because I'd taken the job at the Norwegian frozen seafood company! I was a CEO running a business, which gave me all the skills I needed to step up to the next challenge.”

So, this role overseeing people, strategy, finance, operations, built up his skill set and confidence to become the CEO of an even larger operation.

So, the next time you are considering a move into something different, and there is a confusing amount of feedback around you, remember Bengt’s words.

“Go where you’ll learn something.”

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