Leadership in telecom: Mattias Fridström, chief evangelist for Telia Carrier, on educating employees, the market, and not losing to anyone

Telia Carrier's chief evangelist, Mattias Fridström.

This is the first in an occasional series from FierceTelecom looking at leadership and management strategies in the telecom market.

Mattias Fridström, chief evangelist for Telia Carrier, is passionate not only about building networks but also about competitive sports.

Besides playing golf professionally, Fridström competed on a national level in football and innebandy, a European game that’s similar to floor hockey. Although he has a reputation when it comes to sports as being the “worst loser at Telia Carrier,” he is working hard to overcome this—by not losing to anyone.

Over his 20-plus year tenure at Telia, Fridström has worked in a number of senior roles, including most recently as CTO. Since July 2016, he has been Telia Carrier’s chief evangelist.

On being an evangelist: “Basically, I was the CTO for six years. I think we felt that we’re really well known in a few segments. Among the Tier 1s, we are very well known, but we came to the conclusion that we needed to create a role that can get us to be more known in the world. That’s why we created this evangelist role. Having been the CTO for six years, I have the background to talk about things and have people listen about our company.

“We also need to make people in our own company aware of what we do. I spend a lot of time internally trying to get people engaged and trying to get people to understand that if you guys do this a bit quicker, the customer would be a bit more happier. Very few of us at our company know what we do and why we exist. We have to educate our employees that we’re actually selling these services to a big company, this is what they use it for, and this is why it’s so important to them to get it on time.”

On leading a large organization: “It consists of a lot of education. It’s a lot of giving everyone the big picture of what are we doing. Also, we pick up on other things like someone says Portland seems to be very hot. We can bring that back to the organization and say ‘We have heard a lot things and start investigating why is that hot now?’ It’s all about having an ear to the market.”

On educating employees: “I recently gave a presentation on the Voyager project to my entire office about what we have done. I told people in the office that Facebook selected us and they could have selected anyone to test it. They came to us and asked us first, which is really cool. I wanted to make people proud that we work for a company that was selected by them. It’s a lot of work like that.”

On not losing to anyone: “The others make fun of me that I am a really bad loser so I thought why not write it in the biography. I really hate to lose. I have competed in a number of sports. I am pretty good at sports, but the fact that I hate to lose more than everyone else makes me good at every sport I do. My whole philosophy is figuring out a way to win."

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