Meet samuel:
A sports and music guy who loves winning

Samuel Skott is heading up our largest market; Tele2 Sweden. He is a person who loves challenges, both at work and on his spare time.

Samuel grew up in Kisa in Sweden, a small town south of Linköping. He was brought up in a musical family and at the age of nine, he started playing the trombone.

"It was rather natural for me to start playing an instrument. Kista also had a successful music school and even if it is a small town, we had a brass band. Before going off to the university, I was actually struggling if I were going to go all in with the music and do that full-time or study business. I have always been a person that likes to be the best at what I do and when I realized that I was good with the trombone, but not the best and probably wouldn't become that either, I decided to choose another path. But the music has of course stayed with me and one day, I would like to learn and entire new instrument.

When it was time to study, Samuel wanted to explore a new city and therefore divided his education between Linköping and Gothenburg. He remember his time in Gothenburg as the time of his life.

"I had a cheap apartment, worked extra and knew a bartender that could get me in to most clubs and fixed cheap beers. But it was also a bit of a social experiment for me. I only studied individual courses and was not a part of a class in Gothenburg so each time we had teamwork exercises, I had to reach out to people I did not know. It was hard but I learned a lot from it."

But it feels like you are a very social person, aren't you?
"From one point of view, I am. I love to meet people and like to be on stage – I was a lot when playing the trombone and also in my role as CEO of Tele2 Sweden. But in mingle situations or when I am in smaller groups, I am a bit more reserved. I find it much easier to speak to hundreds of people than to 10 that I do not know that well. Therefore I need to challenge myself and not say no to that kind of situations."

Next stop - Vasaloppet

Samuel was not just a music guy as a child, he also loved sports and played both football and competed in race walking.

"Race walking is probably an odd sport to many. A friend once told me that it is like competing in whispering loud, which is a very good comparison. But in my hometown it was a fairly popular sport that all kids tried in school. I tried it as well and after winning the District Championship I decided to continue. However, it only lasted a couple of years before football and playing the trombone took over completely.
Today, Samuel is focusing on cross country skiing and are preparing for a tough challenge; Vasaloppet which is the world's oldest, biggest and longest ski race.

"It was my sister that signed up both herself, me and my brother so all siblings will do it together. I have prepared well enough and believe that I will manage to finish, but probably not as fast as I would want to"


Career path

As mentioned, Samuel choose the business track before the musical one – which has served him well. He graduated with a M.Sc. in Industrial Engineering & Economics and worked as store manager for a Dialect store in Gothenburg for a short time. Dialect sells phone and IT-solutions so already then, he sold Tele2 subscriptions. In 2005, he applied for the Tele2 trainee program and has been with the company in different positions since. In 2011, he became a part of the Swedish Leadership Team and in April 2016, he took over the position as CEO after Thomas Ekman decided to leave.

"When I started as CEO, my first priority was to turn the growth trend that had been negative for a while. We succeed with that rather quickly but it is of course a hard work every day to maintain. Focus has also been on setting us up for future success through getting the Tele2/TDC Integration off to a good start, complete the recruitments to the Swedish Leadership Team and then of course moving in to our fabulous new house in Kista and implementing our new way@work."

You have been with Tele2 for several years now, what do you believe are the benefits with having that Tele2 experience when becoming CEO?

"The benefits are of course that I know the company and the people very well. I know what we are good at and what we could be better at, so there are many things I do not need to learn or think about. However, when having spent that much time with a company, you constantly need to challenge yourself to think in new ways. What has worked historically, will probably not work in the future – especially in the ever-changing area of business we work in."

One of the main goals for Tele2 is to achieve the strongest growth through the most satisfied customers and according to Samuel, Tele2 Sweden will continue to be a growth company.

"We will continue to grow on the B2B side with TDC and continue to make both Comviq and Tele2 successful within their segments. The campaign we recently launched, "Be content with more", was just a stopover and in Q1 we will introduce a completely new commercial concept which feels both existing and promising.

The Tele2 Way

Samuel also wants to highlight the precondition for making all of this happen – the people of Tele2 and our values.

"We can never forget about our values. We are living in an ever-changing world and as a company we drive a lot of this change ourselves. There are two reasons for me staying this long with Tele2 and also will stay for many more years. The first one is that you are able to grow and develop. The other one is our values. Being a value driven company is an amazing strength and something we always can rely on, no matter how tough the situation is. To sum it up – I am proud to be part of our company and the Tele2 Way!."

Meet Stefan:
"If america claims to be the land of opportunities, Tele2 is truly the company of opportunities"

Stefan Backman is one of the newest members in the Group Leadership Team in his role as Group General Counsel. But he is far away from being new at the company. He started in 2007 and refers to Tele2 as a major love of his life.

Stefan grew up in the city Örebro and lived there until he left school as 19 and started his military service up in the north of Sweden, Boden. He knew early that he wanted to work within law and started at Uppsala University shortly after his military service was done. During his time at the university he did not only explore his passion for law, he also fell in love and at the age of 23, he got married to his wife Anna.

"She is also working within law, but at a Government Agency. It is nice being married to someone who understands your field of work, even if it is quite a difference working for a Public Authority than for a company. Hence, sometimes we can have some lively discussions as well", Stefan says.

But there are other interests in Stefan's life than just law. During his free time, he is a devoted supporter of the football team Djurgården and goes to all the home games. He also loves to eat, even if cooking is not his cup of tea and he has two children together with his wife, 8 and 12 years old.

"They have reached the age where we do not need to drive and pick them up at school everyday, which of course frees up time". 

The telecom interest was born

When Stefan graduated from the university, he did a two year session at court as law clerk and worked mainly with tax cases but also with telecom regulation cases.

"That is when my interest for telecom was born. I noticed that it was an industry with high speed, exciting regulatory questions and business driven law. After my session at court, I started working for Post- och telestyrelsen, PTS, the authority that monitors electronic communications and post in Sweden. I worked there for a few years until I was offered a position at Tele2 in 2007, which made me very happy. During my time at PTS, I had recognized Tele2 as the coolest of the operators."

What made Tele2 so cool?

"I interpreted Tele2 as an open and very transparent company without hidden agendas. And already before starting to work here, I felt that the company was a true challenger."

When Stefan started at Tele2, he worked with our relations to the Swedish incumbent Telia where we bought access to their fixed network. Since then, he has worked in several different positions. Most recently as Head of Legal, Regulatory and Network at Tele2 Sweden.

"During my time at Tele2, I have been a part of setting up network JV's in Sweden and learned a lot about it. Hence, it was a very exciting role to also work with our fantastic networks for a while even if network is not my area of expertise. I learned a lot, but now I really look forward to work with legal and regulatory questions on Group level".

Challenges and opportunities

On the question why Stefan has stayed so long with the company, he refers to Tele2 as a company of opportunities.

"You receive lots of mandate and if you do a good job, you have all possibilities to develop and advance. I do not think that is possible in the same way at most other companies."

Being responsible for Group Legal and Regulatory is different from working in a country from many perspectives. It comes with both new challenges and opportunities.

"I will, for example, work much more with questions regarding the Board and Stock Exchange Law but also work more closely with the legal and regulatory organizations across our footprint. I believe that one of the largest opportunities we have as a group is to start working, even more, cross borders within Legal and Regulatory. We have so much expertise out there and can truly benefit from each other. One of the main challenges I see for us Legal Counsels is perhaps the new and digital way of working. Legal Counsels typically like paper. I however look forward to work more digitally, but it will take some time and possibly some frustration to get used to it."

One of the prejudices against Legal Counsels are that they can be a bit rigid. However, you do not seem rigid at all?

"No, for me it is important that Tele2's Legal Counsels are seen as Business Partners who support the business and minimize risks in a smart way. Our guiding Tele2 values are the same for us as for everyone else at Tele2 and rigid is not one of them. You should feel that you can come to the Legal and Regulatory departments whenever you need support or guidance."

Meet Jon James:
Tele2’s Dutch CEO is a turnaround guy... who just hates PowerPoint

Meet Jon James – Our Dutch CEO is a turnaround guy... who just hates PowerPoint Jon James leads Tele2 Netherlands and is a member of the Group Leadership Team. He joined Tele2 in March 2017 from the Swedish telecoms company Com Hem.

Jon's priority in the Netherlands is threefold: to give Tele2 NL a clear purpose, to restore operational excellence and a great customer experience, and re-establish Tele2's reputation for shaking up the market – particularly in mobile.

Jon certainly has the track record. He helped transform Virgin Media in the UK from a poorly regarded cable company with particularly bad customer service into a fast growing company with market-leading products and a great customer experience – in the meantime, increasing the share price from $4 to $50.

Right before joining Tele2 he achieved something similar; in his 2.5 years at Com Hem in Sweden, once seen as a legacy TV company with a reputation for poor customer service, the company is reborn as a broadband-led company with great customer service and a transformed brand.

When he was approached to join Tele2, Jon was interested immediately. He knew Tele2 well from his time in Sweden and found the straightforward positioning appealing. He also knew Allison Kirkby and Eamonn O'Hare, a member of our Board of Directors, from Virgin Media and felt a good connection. As a result, Jon did not really think long before accepting his new role. "The job looked like a serious challenge but also achievable – but only if we execute really well. What more do you want?" he asks.

What are his pet hates? PowerPoint, it appears, is at the top of the list. "It's not that I hate slides. But businesses are about action and energy – and too often PowerPoint can be the enemy of both."

Likewise, Jon is a fan of the Swedish habit of standing in meetings, encouraging quick debates and decisions. "The bottom line is that most meetings should boil down to a few critical debates and decisions – so I am impatient to get to them. On the contrary, if at all possible, I try to avoid meetings where I'm not clear about the outcome or the agenda."

Finally, we touch the topic of Jon's private life. Are there enough hours in a day left for a private life? "Yes. I count myself lucky with my wonderful family, who live in Farnham outside London. My wife Lou and I have a 13-year-old son and a 14-year-old daughter. And two dogs. Those who know me from work will be surprised to learn I'm the laid back one. But only if there is some exercise at hand – give me sailing, tennis or skiing, and I'm easily pleased.

3 things you did not know about Jon:

  • Jon was once fluent in Arabic
  • Jon used to live in Beirut working as an archaeologist
  • Jon used to own a boat. Until it sunk. In the middle of the Atlantic...