Never wants to stop learning

22 November 2023

Ten years ago, Jonas Kihlberg, currently the Managing Director at Vinci Energies Sweden West, graduated from the Gothenburg Executive MBA programme. The importance of reflection, effective models for strategic work, and a deep appreciation of the wealth of knowledge that is available, are among what he still carries with him. And the curiosity that once led him to the programme is still there.

In 2010, as a regional manager at the then YIT Sweden, Jonas Kihlberg had the opportunity to undergo a custom programme with four modules held at various universities in Europe. It left him with a lasting impression.

“I wanted to continue to educate myself at that level, gain new knowledge, and insights. That’s how I came across the Executive MBA programme at the School of Business, Economy and Law in Gothenburg, reached an agreement with my boss, and got admitted,” says Jonas Kihlberg, since 2021 the Managing Director at Vinci Energies Sweden West. In this role, he oversees around 30 business units with over 1100 employees and an annual turnover of approximately two billion Swedish kronor.

Ever-curious learner
The primary driving force for Jonas Kihlberg when he applied for the Executive MBA programme was the desire for new knowledge and insights, coupled with a curiosity about leadership, which remains strong.

“I believe that never ceasing to learn is a good attitude. One of the things the Executive MBA programme highlighted for me was the tremendous amount of qualified knowledge available in the international university environment through researchers, reports, and literature. I willingly and frequently purchase books about leadership and management, which I read and sometimes distribute to my colleagues.”

Courage to challenge oneself
In hindsight, Jonas Kihlberg believes that his Executive MBA education contributed to greater courage in his own leadership, leading to increased trust from his employer. He attributes part of this to all the experiences he gained from his fellow participants.

“I took a step forward in more contexts and dared to challenge myself in new ways after completing the programme. I believe this was due to the platform I had built with the knowledge the programme provided, combined with the experiences I gained from the other participants. We were a group of over 20 people representing various industries. The exchange within the group provided access to lots of examples and the experiences of others. The network remains valuable, and some of us still meet over dinner a couple of times a year.”

Tools for strategic work
A lasting impression from the programme is its emphasis on the importance of reflection and all the practice of it.

“This surprised me. Both I and most other participants were used to constantly keeping full speed ahead without ever stopping to think. We quickly realized that we needed to relearn,” he says.

Moreover, Jonas Kihlberg often goes back to the lessons and tools from the programme’s strategy module, Strategic management.

“I have always appreciated building strategy and working on plans; it’s one of the most important and interesting aspects of the job. A few years ago, as the CEO at Elajo, I led and executed a significant strategic initiative. At that time, I greatly benefitted from the knowledge and models from the programme, which, among other things, contributed to very rewarding discussions. I still occasionally pick up my course books on the subject. Now, we are in the midst of strategic work here at Vinci Energies. Future plans and development are always relevant, while all the drama in our world requires a constant readiness for change.”

Encouraging and offering development opportunities
Jonas Kihlberg always encourages and supports employees who want to develop and also ensures that the company provides opportunities to do so. Currently, in collaboration with GU Executive Education, he is planning a customised programme at an academic level for managers and key persons in finance. Perhaps, like Kihlberg’s own experience, it will inspire participants towards continued development.

Jonas Kihlberg


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