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Ericsson CEO Keeps Eye on the Ball

Thu, 03/31/2011 - 10:11am
Monica Alleven

Many people know Hans Vestberg is president and CEO of Ericsson, but did you know he’s also president of the Swedish Handball Federation? 

Vestberg, who will share the keynote stage today with Patrick Soon-Shiong, M.D., chairman and CEO at the Institute for Advanced Health, has been involved in sports all his life, which is how he learned to lead a team. That probably comes in handy overseeing a company that employs 90,000 people worldwide. 

During the keynote, Vestbergwill discuss mobile’s unique role in shaping the networked society and how wireless is transforming vertical industries, with the specific example being healthcare. He has talked in the past about the Ericsson’s expectations for 50 billion connected devices by 2020. So, the big question is, will networks be ready for all those devices? 

Vestberg says operators are preparing themselves and evolving. When 3G came along, there was a lot of technology hype, and consumers didn’t really see much happening. Now, the opposite is occurring, and while there’s always a balance to be made, it’s a healthier situation. 

Vestberg joined Ericsson in 1991, the same year he graduated from Sweden’s Uppsala University with a degree in business administration. Since then, he’s held management roles at Ericsson in several different countries, including China, Chile and Brazil. The only department at Ericsson that he hasn’t worked in is R&D. Before taking the CEO role in January 2010, he was the CFO. 

Does he allow his son, who’s 8, and daughter, 10, to use cell phones? Yes, and in fact that’s how he keeps in touch with them during his busy days. Vestberg himself carries around four or five devices, including tablets and eReaders, and while he may be atypical in that sense, he does see a day when more consumers certainly will be carrying more than one device if they aren’t already. 

Vestberg has his hands full steering Ericsson through a highly competitive industry; his challenge is to continue growing the business faster than the market. “We need to be on our toes every second,” he says, and that doesn’t seem to be a problem for Vestberg. 

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