The CEO's column
Not everything works out as we expect, but sometimes it’s all for the best
When I passed through the gates of KTH, the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, in 1996 to begin my career, I naturally had no idea of what the journey would entail. But if I had tried to guess, I would certainly have got it wrong. I imagined a career within the manufacturing industry. Having grown up in Ludvika and Västerås, where ASEA/ABB was the biggest employer, manufacturing was what I thought would give me a job as an engineer. It was not to be. My thesis work towards the end of my education had meant I had come into contact with Stockholm Energi, which was in the process of starting up the first district cooling system in the capital. Our thesis looked at supplying the Söder Hospital with cooling from heat-powered cooling plants, using the surplus heat generated by the Högdalenverket power station during the summer. At that time, I had no idea what FVB (or ‘Fjärrvärmebyrån’, the district heating office, as it was called in those days) was. Neither did I know that FVB, which had got the idea of district cooling from the USA, was a major contributor to the technology catching on in Sweden. I probably had a vague idea of what technical consultants were and what they did. In any event, my thesis work led to a job with Stockholm Energi as a consultant at its subsidiary Teknik & Miljö (engineering and environment), where I continued to work with the various district cooling projects. Some years later, I got to know my predecessor Leif Breitholtz via a job that led to my moving to FVB.
I have now spent 27 years working as a technical consultant in the energy industry, of which almost 20 have been at FVB, mostly at our office in Stockholm. Nothing has been anywhere near what I expected, but it has been fantastic. During those years, the consultancy industry has gone through massive change and grown enormously. For some considerable time, most newly qualified engineers have started their careers in consultancy. Consultancy companies therefore bear a lot of responsibility for the supply of new skills to the industry. FVB has developed a great deal over the years, and in many ways is a completely different company now from the one I joined 20 years ago. But what remains are the family culture, characterised by our values (Committed, Competent and Considerate) and our focus on achieving progress for our customers. It has been a fantastic journey, and it is an honour and a source of excitement to promote development of the company further as CEO.
As I mentioned, I have now been in the energy industry for 27 years. An industry that has also gone through some massive changes, particularly within district heating. We have gone from talking about subscription accounts to offering our customers energy solutions and services instead, and the company is now run as a professional business, not just a competent provider of technical services. It is also an industry that needs to constantly change to adapt to changing conditions in the form of new financial controls, laws, directives and market conditions. And it is that ability to change that may be more important now than ever before to cope with the changes taking place in society in the form of electrification, digitisation and the hunt for green energy. A change being driven by a growing climate crisis, the consequences of which are being emphasised right now by the war in Ukraine.
But as we know, change also implies opportunity, and FVB is ready to help with that process. In this issue of FVB-Nytt, you can read about our involvement in the FlagshipTWO project in Sundsvall. A brilliant example of how energy transformation creates opportunities for energy companies and industry working together.
You can also read about our expansion within water and sewage. An area with considerable investment needs and one that faces new challenges linked to climate change. Read how our new ‘Water and Sewage Driver’ Patrik Andersson sees it.
Urban infrastructure is becoming more integrated in line with increases in growth and density. This can imply complication and high costs when, for example, leaking pipes have to be replaced. In such instances, relining can be a cost-effective alternative. Navirum chose that option when a leak occurred on a district heating pipe running under the railway in Örebro.
As the new CEO of FVB, I have had to take on a number of things for the first time during the spring. Writing this column is one of them! Commenting on everything from world events to engineering breakthroughs and exciting projects here is something I look forward to. But in this issue, my aim was to introduce myself to those of you who do not know me, so you are familiar with me when reading future columns and when we hopefully meet in the flesh in some future context.
Summer is here, and the closing of schools, preschools and other organisations looms close for those in that phase of life. For example, I am currently hosting a champagne lunch for thirty-odd students in my garden! June is always a hectic time, but the long days and lush greenness boost our energy levels, and the summer holidays are just around the corner. On that note, FVB wants to wish all our customers a pleasant and truly enjoyable summer.
CEO, FVB Sweden