Susanna Liljestam-Heigard

March 26, 2024

Susanna Liljestam-Heigard, co-founder of the well-known executive search company Head Agent Group and well-known for her expertise in talent acquisition shares, in this interview, her views on everything from favorite work tools making her productive to work-from-home principles and the application of AI in the workplace.

1. How many days per week do you prefer to work from home and why? 

I find the hybrid 3-2 model to be perfect. In our operation, it's crucial to physically meet both internally and externally within our network. This fosters personal relationships, generates more energy, and is also essential for building our culture. However, our work also involves heavy administrative tasks, which are most efficiently handled at home.

While we always prefer face-to-face meetings, many find it easier to schedule digital ones, so I seize those opportunities on the days I work from home. The office-home balance helps me maintain a healthy work-life balance.

2. What is a hidden treasure among apps for you — a favorite application of yours that might be unknown to many?

Slack is the app I use most frequently, multiple times each day. We utilize it as our primary tool for internal communication. It serves well for both disseminating information quickly to everyone and sharing knowledge among ourselves. Through Slack, I can swiftly receive input on specific queries from my colleagues. We employ it for both group and individual communication.

Another favorite is &Frankly, where we gauge the well-being of our employees every week and ensure that we're where we want to be. It's highly user-friendly and provides us with comprehensive insights into our team's current state.

3. Any tips on how to use AI in daily life or work? What is your company policy around it?

We stay very updated on AI in general, and right now, we're experimenting with different types of AI systems to see how we can integrate them into our operations. It's crucial to strike a fine balance between using AI as a tool to enhance efficiency and maintaining the human touch in relationships and personal assessments. Much of our value lies in interpreting what's between the lines, in the unspoken, and sensing the chemistry in the room. I find it hard to envision AI solving that.

What we've been using for a while, of course, is ChatGPT, as a complement to our existing knowledge and experience, primarily as support when crafting ads/job descriptions, and translations, but also to quickly provide us with comprehensive knowledge about new industries, professions, and titles.

4. What's your most important work tool, making you productive?

For the vast majority in our operation, I would say it's our recruitment system, Ponty. Personally, I rely on the Outlook calendar to structure my work. Regarding financial flows, I would mention OneFlow for digital contract signing and PE Accounting for invoice management.

5. What career tips would you give your younger self?

I've always had a strong belief in my abilities, but I would say that the challenges you face will work out, no matter how daunting they may seem. They will resolve themselves one way or another; the question is how and when. When you encounter a challenge, take a deep breath, and even if it feels like a decision between a rock and a hard place, dare to make the decision anyway. It will work out.

6. What is your view on employee choice, i.e. flexibility for employees to choose their hardware and software?

As a company, we provide the same hardware and software for all employees. In our operation, there aren't clear individual needs tied to the tasks. If an employee wants to use individual tools as a supplement to the shared ones, everyone is, of course, free to do so. 

7. What is an ideal new employee onboarding experience?

I see two aspects as equally important for a successful onboarding process - structure and culture. Structure sets the groundwork for practical aspects like understanding workflows, individual tasks, and where to find necessary resources. Clear communication of expectations and more frequent dialogue and follow-up are crucial.

When it comes to culture, it's important to quickly feel included and part of the team. My new colleagues make me feel welcome and appreciated. Here, accessibility and curiosity are essential. Conveying a sense of our culture, emphasizing an open environment where there are no silly questions.

Everyone is equally significant regardless of background and the role you step into. It's important to communicate our company culture and values early on, preferably before employment, to ensure alignment with the individual's characteristics and motivations.

Have you read? Voices & Choices #5: Interview with Sebastian Holmstrom, Sustainability Manager at Inrego

"Voices and Choices" is a weekly interview series where we dig into how top talents, founders and leaders work and what makes them productive.