INSIDE TRACK: Volvo CE’s Senior Vice President Core Value Management has been with the Volvo Group for most of his working life
by Patricia Kelly
Less than a year ago, Jonas Jademyr exchanged the rural delights of living outside Gothenburg on a car-free island off the west coast of Sweden for the bustle of downtown Brussels. Like many expats who arrive in Belgium’s multilingual, multicultural capital city, adjusting to the renowned perils of driving in Brussels was possibly his biggest cultural shock.
But apart from missing the sea and the endless opportunities for boating, Jademyr relishes this opportunity to live in the heart of a city for a change, especially one as international as this. “I always want to do new things and in my free time I love to explore,” he says, citing the relative ease with which he can visit neighboring countries when not at work.
A desire to understand the complete business of the firm he works for “not only the industrial part of the company” prompted Jademyr’s move to Brussels from Gothenburg, where his previous roles were engineering-based and focused mainly on product development and project management in both operational and management capacities.
Having spent his entire career based in Gothenburg, it was a wrench leaving his Swedish homeland to work abroad for the first time, not to mention the family and friends that Jademyr, 49 in July, left behind.
“You realize there are lots of things you took for granted,” he says. “But overall it has been a new challenge and really fun.”
His current management position, which he took up in the fall of 2013, commuting from Sweden for a year before moving to live in Belgium, gives Jademyr responsibility for developing the Volvo Group’s guiding principles of quality, safety and environmental care within Volvo CE.
These core values permeate all levels of the company and involve him in all aspects of how the business functions, from operational development through to corporate social responsibility and public affairs. The biggest impact of these values, dictating the company’s action and behavior, is of course on its products and their end-users – the customer.
“Volvo core values are something we want to build our brand on, and our vision for all parts of the company is to be perceived as number one in quality, safety and environmental care,” states Jademyr. “Volvo CE has a strong position today and is seen as a leader in all core values. But it is being challenged because the competition is getting tougher, so the strategic part of this job is to make sure that we understand what our customers value, what the competition is doing, and how society and technology is developing and put all that together and plan accordingly.”
Of the three, quality has traditionally been the most competitive area, says Jademyr, but safety and environmental care are closing the gap.
“All the premium brands want to be perceived as number one in quality. When it comes to safety and environmental care we are seeing a shift in society expecting companies to take more responsibility for the environment and more social responsibility.
“I think many companies understand that doing business in the future means building products that are safe for society, safe for our operators and safe for people living in society – and that forces companies to focus on these areas which means competition gets tougher.”
Ultimately, the customer is the final judge, says Jademyr, but he considers Volvo has a head start on the competition when it comes to the company’s core values combination.
“We have worked with these values for such a long time that we have them at the front of our minds,” he says. “It is part of the company culture and it will certainly take a while before our competitors can match this strength of always thinking in those terms.”
Jademyr concedes there are some customers who do not really care and will do anything to get the job done.
“But then there are other companies, including our big key accounts, and they do ask what we are doing in the area of occupational health and safety, and they do want to know what we are doing in corporate social responsibility. They want to know how we are rated by external audits.
“One of the challenges is developing products suitable for all kinds of customers, while focusing on core values for customers who really value them.”
Generally speaking, customers in the mature markets of Western Europe and North America are willing to pay for environmentally safe products, says Jademyr, while competition is more focused on value for money in other parts of the world. But he says that is quickly changing.
“Over time I think that doing business in the future means building products that are safe for society,” he says. “Taking China as an example, society there is moving at a rapid pace towards developing quality rather than quantity with a much bigger focus on environmental care.”
As with many Volvo engineers, both then and now, Jademyr spent his first year with Volvo as an assembly worker learning about the company and its products. That was in Gothenburg with Volvo Trucks where he spent a further six years in engine development.
A 26-year Volvo veteran, there was a two-year stint with another engineering company – one of the key accounts was Volvo CE – before Jademyr found his way back to Volvo Trucks in 1996 and engine development.
With the acquisitions of Mack and Renault, a major reorganization led to Volvo Powertrain, where Jademyr first had product development responsibility and then program management duties for Volvo Group heavy duty engines, followed by product range responsibility for Volvo Trucks in 2005.
In 2011, he took over and finalized significant technology upgrades for the successful Volvo FH truck range, relaunched in 2012. Jademyr describes the two-and-a-half years he spent on the FH relaunch as one of the two highlights of his career.
“It was a huge project, the biggest in Volvo Trucks at the time, and big even for the Volvo Group as a whole,” he says. “I went from an executive position back into operational work. It was a big learning curve and a huge challenge. I discovered a lot more about the products, but most of all I learned how to run a really huge project.”
Jademyr is equally enthusiastic when describing an earlier role as technical product leader on the development of the D9 engine which he worked on for 38 months from concept through to launch, a rare opportunity.
“New engines are not developed very often,” he explains. “Work on them is often more to do with their improvement and evolution.
“When I first started in engine development in 1989, everything was very mechanical – there wasn’t much in the way of electronics. These days, we have to think more about production efficiency and aftermarket. Today, resources and product development are spread out over the world, and the Volvo Group has become much more global; technology has become more advanced and more complex.
“The organizational structure has also become more complex. In some ways this is good and necessary, but in other ways it places bigger challenges on our resources and the way we work.”