Meet the Marketer | Jan 2023
Stefan Lorentzson, Senior Vice President of Communications at Volvo Group
“When we discuss marketing, we many times relate that to external activities and external communications, but everything we communicate externally comes from within.”
In order to understand the ever-changing climate of marketing and adapt to the rapid shifts, we wanted to understand the marketers of tomorrow and to benchmark the leaders of today. We wanted to learn about their mindsets, but also to shine a light on the marketer. This is an interview series where we present leaders within marketing, creating a forum for them to speak their thoughts and share insights for the marketers of tomorrow.
Stefan Lorentzson is the Senior Vice President of Communications, CSR, Public Affairs, and Brand at Volvo Group. With over 30 years of experience in the industry, he is a seasoned professional and a respected leader in his field. Recently, he sat down with GO MO Group for an interview to share his insights on marketing and leadership from his extensive career.
Interview with Stefan Lorentzson, SVP of Communications at AB Volvo
You have held many leadership positions within communications over the last 30 years – are you still learning at this point?
Of course! It’s important to be a lifelong learner in this field. Whether it’s keeping up with the latest digital tools, understanding changes in consumer behavior, or staying informed about global issues, it is a requirement to stay up-to-date.
My latest Eureka!-moment came when I was out discussing management and leadership, We started talking about “kind management”. Can you imagine that that is on the agenda today? Everybody accepted that and agreed that this is the way to go. But then I thought, “Do we have unkind management today?” and obviously, it exists. The next question I asked myself is that if you have a kind leader and an unkind leader – which one would you follow? The answer seems kind of simple.
The fact that we even discussed this reflects macro changes in my mind. With everything that has been going on, like the pandemic, wars, or the environment, there’s a lot of uncertainty. We have gone from a supply-driven market to one driven by demand. So whatever the people can provide the customers and consumers with is what will define the market. companies are very dependent on our people – we have always been, but it is more tangible than ever.
In your mind, is there a connection between external communications and internal communications?
Definitely so! We usually say that companies are built on three building blocks: strategy, structure, and culture. Strategy is something that we can take from another competitor if we want to. The structure can also be copied and pasted from someone else. But the culture is unique – that is something that comes from within. When we discuss marketing, we often relate that to external activities and external communications, but everything we communicate externally comes from within.
What trends or shifts have you seen over the course of your career?
If you look back 30 years ago, so many things have changed. We have gone from analog to digital, from push to pull, and from mass communication to direct communication. We used to talk about “made in” or “made by”, today we talk about “made how”, or “made why”.
We are in a paradigm shift when it comes to customer behaviors, marketing, and business processes. Take the Edelman Trust Barometer, for instance. When they asked businesses which is the most important stakeholder, this has always been the customers. This year, for the first time ever, it’s the employees.
Sir Richard Branson, put that together in a smart way, I think, because the clients are, of course, important. But he said our client is not the most important one, our people are; if we take care of our people, they will take care of our clients. And that creates a kind of circular way of looking at it, which I appreciate.
As a leader, do you have anything to say to young, aspiring professionals?
My advice to young professionals is actually two: First is being a can-do person. By this, I mean that you should say yes to many things. That doesn’t mean you should say yes to everything, but the perception of you that you want to create is that you are a person one goes to when action is needed. And action is important – action speaks louder than words. My second piece of advice is to be yourself. Don’t try to play a role. Don’t try to act like what you think the bosses want to see or what marketeers should do. Act according to who you are.
You’ve mentioned kind management, what is that?
Kind management is ordinary leadership skills based on human values and human needs. Human-centric leadership, basically. People want to contribute to the best of their abilities, and they want to be recognized for their efforts. They want to be listened to, and this requires leadership that is open-minded and that creates an atmosphere of trust where people are not afraid to try new things or speak their minds. The only way to achieve this is to walk the talk. I see it every day when you greet people, when you say thank you, or when you recognize what they’re doing. It starts with small everyday steps.
The conclusion when it comes to kind management is that human capital is the driver for success and that caring is the ultimate human currency.