Vice President and Head of Talent Management at Ericsson
“Developing Leaders with Unique Ideology”
“To help others get to the top of their tree so that they can enjoy their view.” This purpose has guided Selina Millstam’s career as a leader at some of the world’s most successful companies, including Nike, consulting firm Oliver Wyman, and, today, as Global Head of Talent Management at Ericsson.
Selina’s passion for enabling others to realize their potential plays well with her qualities, and this starts with her non-hierarchical approach. According to Selina, “teams are at their best when each person can speak up, challenge, and share their ideas, unconstrained by where they happen to be in the org chart. This is particularly important in today’s world of work where change is rapid, and innovation is key.”
“Selina is also keen to accelerate the pace of change in increasing the representation of women and other underrepresented groups who have faced specific, structural barriers to progression.”
Next is transparency. Selina believes that if you want people to get to the top of their tree, you need to empower them with information and insight. “Old leadership models emphasized guarding and often withholding information as a source of power. That doesn’t work today when we need people at all levels of our organizations to be making fact-based and courageous decisions,” says Selina. She practices continuously with her team, being candid, particularly during times of change. But what about when it’s simply not possible to share some information with the team, such as commercially sensitive or privileged data? Selina’s approach is “share what you can and be upfront about what you can’t. People in businesses understand these constraints. What creates problems is any feeling that information is hidden without explanation.”
Finally, inclusion. Selina drives inclusion and belonging in the way she runs her teams and as part of the cultural transformation she is leading across Ericsson’s 100,000-person workforce in 180+ countries. “If you want people to bring their best ideas, deliver great work and enjoy the process of doing so, then you need to make sure they are not distracted by feeling they need to ‘cover’ parts of their identity or ‘code switch’ from who they are to who they feel they need to be,” according to Selina. For her, this means embedding a culture of empathy and humanness where people understand, accept, and embrace their differences and appreciate how these differences make them more potent as a team.
Selina spent almost a decade in consulting, motivated by enhancing individual and company performance through developing leaders. One challenge, however, was that at this time, there were few women leaders in the organization whom she could look up to as role models. Selina reflects that this made it even more critical for the senior men to practice inclusivity and mentorship. She was grateful that some of the senior men in her team became her mentors, “they saw in me progression capacity that I didn’t yet see in myself, and that was incredibly powerful. I valued their expertise, and having their support made me more resilient and better able to learn and grow.”
Selina has been developing global leaders for more than 20 years. This is the thread that has woven together Selina’s roles as a social worker in Detroit, Michigan, supporting underserved communities; as a Board member of Giving Wings, a Sweden based foundation supporting girls and women in gaining independence through education and healthcare; and as an external and internal consultant in the talent space with Oliver Wyman, Nike, and Ericsson.
Throughout this wide-ranging career, Selina has experienced the many and varied challenges people face in realizing their potential and the importance of flexibility and understanding. For Selina, this has informed her work on culture transformation and diversity and inclusion at Ericsson. “We need a culture in which people can speak up when they need support or a different way of working, and this has been particularly important during the challenges around COVID-19,” she reflects.
Selina is also keen to accelerate the pace of change in increasing the representation of women and other underrepresented groups who have faced specific, structural barriers to progression. One of her achievements in this space is ALTitude, Ericsson’s new global career accelerator program designed to help advance talented women in the organization. Selina is keen to highlight that programs like this are not about giving advantage to one group over another; instead, “it’s about removing the systematic and structural barriers that unfairly hold some groups back.” IEWL
Vice President & Head of Talent Management
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