Staffan Göjeryd of Arelion: Five Things You Need To Be A Highly Effective Leader During Uncertain &…

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Staffan Göjeryd of Arelion: Five Things You Need To Be A Highly Effective Leader During Uncertain & Turbulent Times

Transparency: To foster collaboration, we ensure that the information flow is unimpeded and that our employees and customers know what’s happening in the company, good or bad.

As part of our series on the “Five Things You Need To Be A Highly Effective Leader During Turbulent Times”, we had the pleasure of interviewing Staffan Göjeryd.

Staffan Göjeryd is the CEO of Arelion, a global connectivity provider powering 65% of the world’s IP routes and offering its customers Internet and communication transport services as well as its established ecosystem of partners. Arelion, formerly Telia Carrier, became an independent company in June 2021 when it was acquired from Telia Company by Polhem Infra, a Swedish investment company. Staffan has decades of experience in management and leadership roles in the telecom industry, spending the bulk of his career at Arelion. He focuses on transparency, collaboration and trust as the cornerstones of his management style. Above all, he places emphasis on encouraging talented people to speak their minds and lead the way in keeping the global Internet connected and safe.

Thank you so much for your time! I know that you are a very busy person. Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?

I’ve spent my professional life in telecom, entering the industry straight from university. As an entry-level professional, it’s often hard to know what you want out of your career. I entered the industry due to a series of circumstances, including a convergence between technological curiosity and uncertainty about what I wanted to do after graduation. I would tell today’s college students; you are not alone! Even in its burgeoning stages, I found the Internet fascinating. I sensed its early potential to transform people’s personal and professional lives on a global scale. It’s funny how that interest in global connectivity on a network level foreshadowed my work with Arelion and persists to this day.

When I started in telecom, the industry was dominated by incumbent service providers, seeming like a global monopoly in some respects. At that time, the Internet wasn’t commercialized, but deregulation was beginning to take hold. As my career developed, I opted for a more managerial role as opposed to a specialist role. Managing people means knowing how to navigate and maximize individual personalities to affect broader change at an organizational level. This interest in affecting meaningful change is what drives me. The human element keeps things exciting and interesting, especially because Arelion’s talented people are the driving force in how our company makes a difference in the global connectivity business.

Is there a particular person who you are grateful for who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

I’m grateful to my first manager because he made a simple yet powerful comment that continues to shape my management style to this day. I was working in Sales, about 6–7 months in and completely new to the industry, doing my best to keep my head above water. At the time, I was appointed to drive a project. Still, I kept second-guessing myself and referring to management for guidance.

As I asked increasingly detailed questions, my manager asked me point blank, “Is it you or I who’s supposed to do this job?” Some folks may see that as an acerbic rhetorical question. But it was empowering because my manager indicated that he trusted me to follow my instincts and make decisions. It’s important to not only trust co-workers but to trust yourself. At the end of the day, you probably do know the best path, you probably do know more than you think, and you need to trust your own actions. It proved to me that good management requires you to encourage your employees to trust themselves.

Of course, using people as a sounding board is good, but you need to learn to rely on yourself. That small comment gave me faith in my instincts and highlighted the importance of trusting the experts you manage. Experts are experts for a reason. You must let them make their own decisions and give them room to maneuver autonomously. From there, good things tend to happen.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?

Well, I’ve certainly never been part of an acquisition process before. That’s usually a once-in-a-lifetime experience, particularly for a company. With Arelion’s divestment from Telia Company in 2021, we had to start from scratch in every aspect, from the network to the organization and branding. We had to redefine our purpose, vision, identity and culture and ensure those things aligned with the reliable connectivity and world-class customer service we provide.

It’s a tremendous journey that is exciting yet challenging. Amid these organizational reassessments, we still have that pressure to continue delivering the high-quality connectivity our customers depend on for their business operations. We still must persistently innovate our network and diversify our services to stay on the cutting edge of global connectivity. After all, we have a reputation and responsibility to uphold.

Are you working on any exciting projects now? How do you think that will help people?

Right now, we’re furthering our organic network expansion on a global scale. That’s the real vision and story of Arelion today. We’re working on expanding our reach in Europe, North America, Asia and South America and delivering on the promise that we are not just a Nordic operator but a global one. For instance, Mexico was not the most competitive market for connectivity. However, we saw this vast demand for access to innovative connectivity services in underserved markets in the region and have since added Point-of-Presence (PoP) connectivity hubs in Monterey, Querétaro, Mexico City, Mérida and PoPs near the border connecting Mexico into the United States.

This is where the Internet can serve a foundational purpose on a global scale, promoting job and business growth to spur economic vitality in regions that can benefit most. With the latest technologies, including Wavelengths which offers our customers scalable 400 GE services, we can provide diverse and high-capacity DWDM solutions for this region. I’m proud to see our innovative technology making a real impact in these regions and leveling the playing field for global connectivity and technology, improving the lives of people all over the world. Thanks to our team’s hard work, we’re making a difference on a global scale and helping to build a better future.

Apart from reach and innovating around connectivity, security on the network is becoming increasingly vital. Of course, endpoint security is important, but it’s not the only thing you need to worry about when it comes to a comprehensive security strategy. Arelion’s global reach provides the comprehensive network security companies need to protect themselves against the evolving DDoS attacks of today’s threat landscape. We are a single but integral piece of the puzzle. Through this work, we hope to continue to execute our vision of dependable, safe connectivity that stays operational amid global uncertainties.

According to this study cited in Forbes, more than half of the US workforce is unhappy. Why do you think that number is so high?

Really? I had no idea it was that bad. I think that dissatisfaction comes from people feeling invisible or like they aren’t a part of something that serves a purpose greater than themselves. We retain employees at a high rate by ensuring external and internal transparency. Unfortunately, our industry is filled with buzzwords and corporate platitudes. Still, Arelion sets itself apart by taking actions to enact these values and ensure productive collaboration between teams. As with many things, it’s action over words. I do my best to follow through on that promise to our employees to keep them feeling content and appreciated.

Can you share 5 things managers and executives should do to improve their company work culture?

Transparency: To foster collaboration, we ensure that the information flow is unimpeded and that our employees and customers know what’s happening in the company, good or bad. Arelion is not perfect. We’re feeling the pain of supply chain disruptions as much as anyone. We must get creative to navigate these challenges and minimize project delays. We do our best not to sugarcoat or dress things up externally or internally. At the end of the day, this sticks with people who appreciate that transparency. Transparency translates to trust in the company and what it stands for, whether at the employee or customer level.

Trust: We have many folks with a long tenure at Arelion, and I think that comes from making people feel embraced, trusted and heard. Our people feel like they can trust that they’re a part of something that serves a useful purpose. People may leave for other opportunities, but they can trust that they’re always welcome back if circumstances change. Especially with younger generations, people are tired of feeling like a silent cog in the corporate machine. We trust our employees to state their opinion, good or bad, and we trust in the expertise of our staff to execute our vision. Trust and transparency are each a two-way street. When you trust people to execute effectively, they tend to trust your leadership in response.

Flexibility: Our rebranding forced our employees to step outside of their comfort zones for the sake of meaningful change that better serves our global customers. I appreciate that flexibility and openness to change. I do my best to foster and reflect that flexibility in my leadership and management style. Our rebranding affects everyone in the company differently. Our skilled teams have weathered the storm and exceeded internal and external expectations through resilient flexibility that reflects the global services we provide. We also espouse a flexible, hybrid work culture. I feel this translates to flexibility in collaboration because it isn’t as easy to cluster with your usual crowd in an office. It forces you to depend on other people aside from your usual contacts. This promotes personal and professional growth while allowing for a better work-life balance.

Diversity and inclusion: Arelion strives to foster diversity in our workforce and follow through on that promise with action. This is a big talking point today, and we know that many companies are all talk and no action in this area. Since Arelion has customers in 125 countries, we must ensure our workforce fits our global reach and reflects the diversity of the customers we serve across global markets. We have a lean staff in 20 different countries serving customers in 125 countries, with around 35 different languages as a first language among our team members. If you expect your organization to function in a global manner, you must ensure your management team is geographically and culturally diverse. Additionally, women comprise nearly 30% of our management team, and we’re looking to increase that number through internal hiring initiatives.

Practice What You Preach: These corporate values and words are empty without actions to back them up. As our company’s CEO, I take the responsibility to lead by example very seriously. If I want our employees to live up to my expectations, I must live up to my own expectations through action. No single person can execute our mission, whether it’s our substantial rebranding effort or the day-to-day work we do in connecting the world through diverse service options. Collaboration is key, and you only get better by surrounding yourself with people that are more talented than you. Leading by example with an emphasis on transparency and action helps promote the trust needed to strengthen collaboration across our organization.

How does your work promote goodness in the world?

I prefer to address this on an organizational rather than a personal level because Arelion’s people are the true drivers of our positive impact on the world. Our people work hard every day to keep the Internet running and keep people connected globally, especially in times of crisis. When the pandemic hit, Internet traffic skyrocketed. Yet, high-quality Internet was vital to stay informed, connected and safe. Unfortunately, some service providers were wholly unprepared and suffered under the demand.

Due to Arelion’s team, our global reach and our focus on persistent innovation, our network was essentially “future-proofed” and prepared for that tumultuous time of exorbitant demand in the industry. Whether in good or bad times, our team wakes up to enable global communication and freedom of expression. They work to ensure the Internet remains the fantastic phenomenon it’s been since it began. We innovate to connect people across borders and cultures so that people can better understand each other. That access to communication bridges the cultural divides that are becoming so prevalent today.

How can our readers further follow your work?

To see what Arelion’s team is up to and learn more about how we’re connecting the world, you can visit us at and follow us on social media.

Thank you so much for sharing these important insights. We wish you continued success and good health!

You as well, thank you for the opportunity.

Staffan Göjeryd of Arelion: Five Things You Need To Be A Highly Effective Leader During Uncertain &… was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.