Interview with Mats Thörnqvist

Mats Thörnqvist – New CEO of MAFI Group

“Who is Mats?”
Well, I’m 37 and I grew up in Avesta. I left home at 16 to specialize in energy and technology at a residential, upper-secondary school. After that, I studied materials technology for 2 years at Dalarna University. I went on to complete my engineering degree at the KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm. In 2006, initially focused on materials technology, I started as a trainee at Scania. Just a year after my traineeship, I was promoted to be the manager of Scania’s largest materials technology group. 

“In 2014, having led several organizations in, for example, product development and business development, I was given the responsibility of starting and running the production planning and industrialization of Scania’s new truck program for the Latin American market. This assignment was based in São Paulo, Brazil. It ran for 5 years. At the end of June, I, my wife and three children moved back to Sweden.” 

“What will you be bringing to MAFI?”
“I’ve gained a great deal of expertise and experience from one of Sweden’s most respected, major companies. This will be very useful on the journey ahead of us. Working abroad for a long time also gave me international experience and an understanding of other cultures.”  

“What’s your response if I say goal-oriented?”
Yes, I’m extremely goal and results-oriented. Quite simply, I like to compete,” answers Mats, laughing. 

“However, at the same time, I value people highly. Results, yes, but the most important thing is to have fun along the way. This helps things go well and it is how we’ll reach the goals we set. I put a lot of energy into promoting a creative and congenial work environment for all employees. We must have fun!” 

What sort of leader are you? 
A selfless coach. I believe in the philosophy that the person who has a problem also most usually has the answer. It’s simply a matter of asking the right questions and coaching the person towards the answer. This is how people grow, gain in self-confidence and learn how to encourage and coach others to develop. Still, management sometimes has to be asked for advice or decisions. We’re always here when necessary. Discussion is very open at MAFI. It will continue to be so.” 

Do you have any leadership role models?
I have many; some in Scania and some outside. I often encourage managers and other workers to find a role model, analyze what they find impressive in this person and challenge themselves to be at least as good. I myself have always had the personal goal of being good at addressing audiences, something that scares most people. If you expose yourself often enough to these uncomfortable situations, I guarantee that, sooner or later, you will, as I do now, appreciate the experience you’ve gained.”  

“What do you expect of your fellow workers?”
That everyone takes up the organization-wide challenge of company growth in existing and new business areas. Additionally that, in accepting this challenge, we all see the opportunities for developing personally by taking more responsibility and making more decisions ourselves.” 

“Have you been able to gain an idea of what MAFI’s biggest challenge is?”
“We now have a clear company structure and organization with many new functions. We have also started operations in both North America and Asia. As regards structure and organization, the challenge is to ensure that roles and responsibilities are crystal clear and that everyone knows what is expected of them. In North America and Asia, we have to create scalable organizations and boost sales. Another challenge is to continue to grow organically while maintaining our delivery and quality levels. As said, to reach our long-term goals, we also need to explore new business areas.” 

“What is Mats like away from work?”
“Still extremely goal-oriented,” replies Mats with yet another laugh. 

“When I was young, I did a lot of snowboarding, mostly big jump. Having injured my shoulder, but having escaped relatively unharmed compared to many others in the sport, I decided to quit. However, I’m never slow to accept challenges. 

“I appreciate having an active life. I’ve done three Swedish Classic races. The Lidingöloppet cross-country race is in the diary every year. I’ve also done the Stockholm marathon, the Göteborgsvarvet half marathon and taken part in the world’s most amazing running experience, the Rio de Janeiro marathon. 

“When my time’s not taken by job or family, I like to work with my hands. Though I say it myself, I’m quite handy. I like creating, modifying or rejuvenating things, a hobby I share with my wife, Lena. Before the children came, we used to visit major do-it-yourself stores just to get ideas for new projects.” 

“How does it feel to be taking over from someone who has given half his life to getting MAFI to where it is today?”
It is, of course, a huge honor. At the same time, its a fantastic opportunity to develop operations and to take Pierre’s legacy further into the future.>