In an exciting turn of events, Enact’s CEO, Mattias Iweborg, has relocated from Sweden to Kenya and is now based there. With colleagues working from offices in Finland, Sweden, Denmark, the Netherlands, China and now Kenya, Enact truly shows that in today’s day and age, physical location has little bearing on a team’s cohesion and productivity. In fact, a diverse team brings an added dimension and global perspective to the work that we do.
We asked Mattias a few questions about his experience working from Kenya.
Firstly, what brings you to Kenya?
The trigger was that Helena, my partner, got an exciting job offer at the Swedish embassy in Nairobi, where she is now working with democracy and human rights issues. At the same time, Enact had been doing more and more work in Africa, with advisory assignments, training programmes and workshops in more than 10 countries across the continent. With the ambition to expand internationally, and the promise of better serving our global clientele, the opportunity of living in the region was too good to pass up.
Between Skype, Microsoft Teams and WhatsApp, working remotely has become very streamlined and many organisations are embracing the technological advances that have made working across the globe relatively convenient. What systems have Enact put in place to maintain cohesion across their offices?
I am not too keen on the word ‘remotely’ as it connotes that you are somewhere other than where you should be. The beauty of information technology is that it allows us to work from wherever we are. Yesterday I spent three hours in the car, as the street was heavily congested due to an ongoing UN conference. During the car ride, I had a long conversation on stakeholder engagement with a client via WhatsApp and then a colleague and I worked together on a supplier risk assessment via Microsoft Teams, sharing voice and screen. Wherever I find myself, be it on a congested street in Nairobi or at a desk in Stockholm, I feel connected to my team and my clients.
One specific practice that we have put in place at Enact is what we call the “Global Corridor”. In addition to normal video meetings, we have an ongoing video conference (currently through Google Hangouts) in the office to make it possible for us to see each other as we work regardless of where in the world we are. When you come to work, the office laptop streams video from our other offices, allowing us to see each other and feel connected across the globe.
Having now spent some time in Kenya, what do you see as some of the main sustainability challenges in the region? How does Enact hope to engage with these issues?
It would be presumptuous of me to claim that I know the answer to this question after merely four months on the ground. Nevertheless, apart from obvious challenges such as poverty, health care, education, infrastructure and governance, there are a number of really challenging issues:
Energy is vital for development in Kenya. At the same time, providing access to energy (e.g. electricity generation, fuel for transport) often entails the exploitation of land that could be used for other purposes, and often contributes to environmental pollution. Another issue is foreign investment. Investments are needed for development, and yet “selling out” a country to foreign investors can negate future income. Such investments may also come with a number of environmental and social challenges. Living in Kenya, and being confronted with these issues on a daily basis, gives me a unique insight which I hope to translate into positive contributions in the region through Enact’s work.
It is clear that companies here are seeking more holistic ways of looking at their business model beyond just the financials; during my second week in Kenya, I had the privilege of giving a lecture during a training on Integrated Reporting <IR>. This makes a lot of sense, as people and businesses are depending on so many external factors.
Lastly, what are three things you miss the most about Sweden?
Friends, colleagues and family. If I can count them as one, then I would add Swedish bread and being able to walk the streets without thinking about security. But in all honesty, I am currently so full of impressions from here and now, that I haven’t had time to miss home.
Kenya ni nchi nzuri – Kenya is a fantastic country.