Volvo for life
Torbjörn Christensson has been the president of the Volvo Group Southern Africa since 2012: CLAIRE RENCKEN talks to him about his experiences in this role thus far.
Christensson has come to love South Africa: “Working in this fantastic country is a true pleasure – with all the opportunities, challenges and wonderful customers that I am delighted to be dealing with daily.”
His goal on arriving in South Africa was to grow the Group’s three brands (UD Trucks, Volvo Trucks and Renault Trucks) in the market and make sure they deliver an outstanding service to their customers.
“We also needed to be more competitive and cost-efficient, so we have re-organised our companies and created some central back-office functions, which have been successfully implemented over the last two years. I feel we have done a very good job, but we are not finished. One always needs to set new targets to be achieved. I never feel ‘finished’, I just enjoy the small victories along the way,” Christensson adds.
When asked about the most significant moment in his career, he says: “I was responsible for the testing and validation of Saab cars from 1999 to 2002, and it was a true pleasure to be awarded the number one position in the JD Powers quality investigation for the Saab 9-5.
“I also took over Volvo Denmark in 2009, when the Danish and European economies were very tough. Turning the company around and adapting to the economic situation at the time was difficult, but rewarding. I have learned from both these experiences that hard work pays off. If you set yourself and your organisation a target, and get the team committed, anything is possible!”
Christensson describes himself as an engaged leader who likes to be involved, and to be close to the customers and
the market. “I consider the company personnel as family and our customers close friends. I also try to keep things simple – we need to identify solutions and implement them efficiently and swiftly,” he says.
To date, Christensson is very happy with the Group’s performance in general in South Africa, but acknowledges that there are still areas that need improvement, which he says are being addressed. He adds: “We have very good products and people in our organisation – that is why we are successful.”
The Group is doing whatever it can to lower the cost of ownership for its customers. “We are introducing new truck ranges in the market that are more fuel efficient. We also offer support in terms of driver training, and we are constantly introducing state-of-the-art telematics. In addition to that, we realise that we need to be cost-efficient internally and have synergies in the Group. This will make us more competitive in the future,” Christensson concludes.