My name is Joel Ahlqvist and I'm project manager for the Häggvik interchange. I previously attended one of the programs at the Project Management Academy, which was established a few years ago in order, as they describe it, to develop our ability to lead and run projects more successfully. And today I'm working as project manager for one of NCC's major civil engineering projects.
It was last autumn that I completed the Mega Project Management Program within the NCC Project Management Academy. Soon after, I was offered the opportunity to be project manager for one of NCC's major projects, the Häggvik bypass, which is a hub for the Stockholm Bypass infrastructure project. The new interchange is complex and includes bridge and tunnel projects at one of Sweden's busiest traffic locations.
I started at NCC 26 years ago, as a survey technician, and then tried out several roles. I enjoy my job. NCC is a values-driven company and I really appreciate that – more and more each year in fact. It feels natural to be here. I have never wanted to leave.
The Häggvik interchange project is in an extremely intensive phase, in terms of turnover and employees. And taking over a project can be tricky. I try to be humble and patient while at the same time, of course, I must be clear that I am leading the project.
The training increased my understanding of leading through others and thinking more strategically. You can't be involved in all the details of a large project, but you can engage with your employees and be there for them, with clear expectations, leadership and encouragement. I also learned about other parts of the business and I gained a new network of colleagues at NCC.
Before joining the Häggvik project, I spent three and a half years as production manager on the project to construct the Mälaren region's major new port, Norvik in Nynäshamn outside Stockholm. The port was inaugurated last spring. The project involved moving enormous volumes of excavated material, but with little in the way of decisions and admin to take care of. Nevertheless, I think the project was an enjoyable journey.
It was there that I learned the importance of establishing a good dialog with the customer. Sometimes this meant that we had to stand on site and point out where the excavated material had to go. By understanding the customer, being flexible and maintaining a close dialogue, cooperation with the customer was fantastic.
There were also internal challenges on that project. The employees came from two different departments and had different cultures with different working hours and payroll systems, all of which caused issues. Initially there was a lot of "us and them", crossed arms and sideward glances. It wasn't always easy to handle, I have to say. But it wasn't impossible.
The solution was to work actively on team spirit. We had joint meetings on Tuesday mornings, when we went through the whole week. Everyone understood what they and their colleagues were doing, and that they all had an important role to play. Everyone began to feel that building this superport was a real team effort. Later, many people told me that they thought it was the best project they had been involved in.