“I want to continue to contribute to my company’s success”

8 May 2014

Martin Svensson, Managing Director, Comwell Sweden,
Executive MBA graduate class 2014

Martin_Svensson_Web_LQMartin Svensson usually takes the train to Gothenburg. “It gives me time to reflect,” he says on his way to a group assignment with the topic Innovation Management, which deals with how new perspectives can help develop your company.

After 20 years Martin is back at the School of Business, Economics and Law. This time as a participant in the Executive MBA programme that will make him a better business leader. A tough schedule in deed, considering that he manages two hotels, sits on several boards – without neglecting his family. After a quick look at Martin Swenson’s CV the question arises whether it is really necessary to take an Executive MBA.

– There are of course short courses, yes. But an Executive MBA is different. It gives me the opportunity to both the breadth, the depth, and above all to discover new perspectives. I’m very glad and grateful that I had had the chance to join the programme and that I took it. Hopefully I have 20 more years in the business and I want to continue to contribute to my company’s success.

The initiative to send martin to an Executive MBA came from Martin’s manager, Preben Nesager, at the Danish company Comwell. Comwell is privately owned and has two hotels in Sweden, Varbergs Kurort and Aspenäs, and 14 in Denmark. But the geographical location of the business does not mean that the world outside Scandinavia is uninteresting. On the contrary, and that is why the Executive MBA programme with its international focus is so relevant.

– Our customers and partners are becoming increasingly global. People from all over the world come to stay at our hotels, from China to USA, from east to west. For Martin Svensson, as responsible for Comwell Sweden and as member the company’s management team, it’s also about that the Executive MBA is particularly suitable in the stage of life he is in. He talks about the need to question, not least our own personal choices.

– When I took my undergraduate degree in business administration I couldn’t relate to my newly acquired knowledge. Today I can directly connect the academic knowledge to my everyday life. We focus on what really matters for our own work situation in each subject. Old truths and methods are put to the test.

What this means in practice is that everything that happens in the company is being put under the microscope to be analyzed. The spa and conference business is an industry in rapid development with ever-increasing demands. The demands for highly educated staff, for example, led to the conclusion that Comwell started an advanced training programme for massage therapists and instructors.

– The thing that I probably was not really aware of when I started the Executive MBA programme was the large role that the reflection plays. Every time we meet, we start with 30 minutes to reflect on what was said last time we met, and what significance it has for our daily work. Every situation and approach should be questioned.

A master of reflection? Maybe not, according to Martin Svensson.

– But I have learned more about the importance of actively observing and listening. To see the little things and what they may mean. We had an Israeli professor who really challenged us to reflect. Martin Svensson got a task. It was to follow one of the classmates work, from office to boardroom.

– I should note everything down that was said and done during a full day, in order to question and reflect. Why did they do what they did? What was it a sign of? Was it a certain company culture? Tough – and instructive.

Perhaps it is like coaching, says Martin.

– The answers are often found within the inquirer. Only he or she has all the pieces of the puzzle.