“Diversity is a strength that triggers innovation and progress”
Ghaida Magnusson, project manager at our headquarters in Gävle, is an inspiring and dynamic leader. In this interview, she shares her best leadership strategies and reflections on ways to attract more women to the technology sector.
Communicative. Responsive. Highly organized. Those are some of the adjectives that team members who were asked to describe our project manager, Ghaida Magnusson, used. She is pleased with the descriptions. “In my career, I am passionate about two things. The first is technology. The second is people. As a project manager at Syntronic, I have the opportunity to grow and develop within both areas,” she says. “I believe that good communication skills and clarity are prerequisites for good leadership, so I always aim for being exactly that: communicative, responsive, and well-organised” she adds.
When Ghaida joined Syntronic in 2018, she already had extensive experience from the civil sector, as well as an academic degree in Industrial Engineering and Management. She remembers that the project manager role described by Syntronic felt like the perfect career match for her. “My first impression was right. At Syntronic, I manage challenging projects that are on the frontline of technological progress. At the same time, I help my team members develop professionally and learn tremendously from the exchange with them,” she says.
The leadership role
One of Ghaida’s professional aspirations is to constantly improve her leadership skills. She has identified several approaches that she considers success factors for optimal leadership. The first is to gain insight into the projects that she manages on a hands-on manner, rather than merely working from detached perspective. “I take an interest in the actual processes that the engineers make happen in the lab. I make sure that I have enough information about the methods used, the challenges involved, and the tests that are being conducted. For me, it is important to be involved and engaged. I work with the team, not over their heads. It is important to recognise that it is the team as a whole, all of us together, that make the projects happen. When we develop new products that didn’t exist on the market before, we do it as a team effort,” she says.
Good leadership also requires great organizational skills, in Ghaida’s experience. “Every team deserves a highly organized manager who facilitate their work, so that they can concentrate on their skills and expertise,” she says. Organizational skills go hand in hand with the third success factor identified by Ghaida: the ability to communicate efficiently with all members in a team, who all have different personalities, backgrounds, and experiences. “In my project manager role, I have learnt to have a personalized approach to communication. Each person has specific preferences when it comes to receiving information and suggestions for improvement,” she says. “While some team members prefer a direct approach, others appreciate contextualization. Some prefer receiving information in writing, while others prefer to have a person-to-person conversation,” she adds. “As the project manager, I make it my responsibility to discover each team member’s personal communication style and adapt to it, so that all team members feel that their voices are being heard and respected.”
Equality in terms of gender, cultural belonging and personal background is one of Ghaida’s core values. She is convinced that the technology sector, which remains a male-dominated field, would benefit from a greater level of diversity. “In terms of gender, Syntronic is one of the companies that offer an equally welcoming environment for women and men. At Syntronic, we have many great female engineers in our teams – but not as many as we would like. I believed that it is a societal problem caused by the fact that the technology sector does not attract enough women,” she says.
In Ghaida’s opinion, lack of visibility is one of the main problems. “Women do not necessarily turn their backs to careers in technology, but there are many female-dominated career paths out there that are more visible to them, which makes it more likely that they will choose the latter,” she says. “If no other member in a person’s social circle chooses a career in technology, it is possible that her awareness of the opportunities that the sector offers remain limited. She simple never considers it a possibility. For that reason, there is probably a much larger ‘real’ interest in technology-related careers among women than the figures show,” Ghaida comments.
On a positive note, Ghaida believes that is possible to encourage more women to break the trend. “Professions in the technology industry need to be made more visible to women, from an early age. Young women need increased access to information about career paths in the sector. By including women in the conversation, we can contribute to change,” she says.
Ghaida is convinced that diverse teams, consisting of both women and men, as well as of people with different cultural backgrounds and unique personal experiences, are more innovative and performant than homogenous groups. “Diversity is a strength that triggers innovation and progress. Different people offer different perspectives, and each new perspective can be the start of something great,” she concludes.