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7 Questions with Charlotte Mattfolk
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7 Questions with Charlotte Mattfolk
Name: Charlotte Mattfolk
Current title: Founder/CEO
Current organisation: IAMAI
Charlotte Mattfolk is a senior strategic advisor within the fields of future analysis and strategy, business transformation, digitalization, sustainability and entrepreneurship. Within the field of future analysis, she has a track record of over 500 studies across a wide variety of industries and topics. She has held several roles as CEO or partner in larger management consulting firms as well as building up a consulting business from scratch. She is Chairman of the Board in an IT consultancy and Member of the Board in one of Sweden’s largest furniture companies. She is also highly involved in the startup community with engagements in companies in diverse businesses ranging from male skincare to IoT and AI.
She holds an M.Sc. in International Economics from Uppsala University, with undergraduate studies at Institut Supérieur de Gestion, Paris. With a solid vision and business acumen, she helps companies seeking to undergo digital transformation and become more sustainable. A credo Charlotte has carried with her throughout her career is the aspiration to break patterns, challenge truths and dare to try new ways of doing things, to enable new levels of success. She seeks to always encourage equality across all company levels and create business value with social responsibility. She has well-founded knowledge from the consulting world and a passion for all things digital, as well as an ability to create engagement in an innovative, inspiring, and creative way.
1. What have you found most challenging as a CEO or executive of a large enterprise?
The greatest challenge and opportunity is to understand how the future will look like and find the right timing both for innovation, change and perseverance. There is a lot we can know about the future by just analyzing trends and patterns - still many companies do not have a structured way of continuously analyzing and discussing the future.
2. How did you become a CEO or executive of a large enterprise? Can you please briefly tell the story?
I became a CEO the first time in my early 30's and since then I have held several positions as a Partner and Executive or CEO for Management Consulting Firms. I believe that it is the combination of a strategic mindset, constructive problem-solving and doer attitude that has been my forte.
3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?
The first thing I do every morning is to read - not the same source everyday - I surf around and look for articles, video clips and news from all around the world and I always share a few of the most interesting things I have read about with my colleagues. After that I often do hot yoga or some exercise in the morning and it makes me feel very refreshed and clears my mind. I think a lot about how I spend my time and I write to-do lists every day. I decide on what I really have to get done and I try to start with what I consider the hardest thing of the day. My days are then quite intense with seminars, meetings and workshops but I also make sure to get time to be "productive" - do something that I believe will make a bigger change and lead to something important.
4. What's the most recent significant leadership lesson you've learned?
I believe that the view on leadership has changed a lot the past years and still organizations look very much the same as before. We still organize companies in hierarchies with fixed roles and responsibilities and then we need to reorganize way too often since what needs to get done doesn’t get done. People interpret their roles in different ways and prioritize the tasks they focus on differently. In large enterprises far too much time is spent on agreeing on what, how and when to do things, coordinating work and following up on the things we already know will get done. I believe that we have a complicated work life too much with too broad responsibilities and too many roles. It is better to organize work tasks around a person’s skills. I think that a system where people can pick a task or a project to work on that can be followed up on automatically would be much more efficient. In this sense, digitalization and AI will change our ways-of-working to the better and make us feel more satisfied with what we have accomplished and also free up time to take on new challenges – without having to change roles.
5. What's one book that has had a profound impact on your leadership so far? Can you please briefly tell the story of how that book impacted your leadership?
I get inspired all the time by new books, but a book I read a long time ago and have come back to during the years is Scenarios: The Art of Strategic Conversation by Kees van der Hejden. It is about how to move an organization into the future by a better understanding of external change. To me, great leadership is about enabling dialogues about the future on a daily basis in all parts of an organization.
6. How do you build leadership capacity in a large enterprise?
I think that we should focus less on building leadership into specific roles and more on enabling self-leadership for everyone. There may be some decisions that must be made by a certain group of people but the closer to the problem you are, the more likely it is for that person to make a good decision on how to solve the problem. Companies today must consider how they contribute to a better world – and if they don’t already do it, they need to start thinking about that. If a company’s focus is on solving important problems, rather than selling products or aiming to be the leader in its industry, everyone working for the company will spend their time solving those problems, sometimes in a role as a leader, sometimes as a contributor to the group.
7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a CEO or executive of a large enterprise so far?
I have always put a lot of effort on building a strong company culture with clear values that we discuss and get back to all the time. But over time I have noticed that a strong culture can become excluding both to those that are not as passionate about them and to new co-workers. The consequence could be to let go of those who do not agree fully on the values and the culture. But I find that very contradictory to building an inclusive company. I have realized that I prefer to describe more of a “philosophy” – a way of looking at the world – and then focus on some specific areas with problems that we want to solve.