Cloud Employee introduces the Head of Scandinavian Relations, Lars Almerdahl in a brief, meaty interview.
What 3 words best describe you?
Positive, enthusiastic, effective (with a slight touch of OCD).
Tell us a bit about your background.
I grew up in Sollentuna, a suburb of Stockholm, Sweden. Was never a big fan of school since I've always preferred to do things my way, and having both parents as teachers led to a few arguments for sure. But thanks to them being gym teachers and extremely active, I've always been a major fan of the outdoors. Camping, fishing, trekking, biking -- you name it, I'll do it.
After studying computer science I went into the Swedish Air-force, learned tons about being a team leader and got a nice bunch of skills on my driver's license. That led me to become a truck driver, driving 18-wheelers while trying to figure out what I want to do when I grow up. Afraid of being stuck there forever, I resigned and went into sales, first as a door-knocking vacuum salesman. As terrible as you can imagine but I learned skills I will use for the rest of my life. From there I went to sales for a recruitment site and then off to Sharp as an Area Manager for big printer systems. Never actually been a big fan of hardcore direct sales, I was given an opportunity to start working as a Producer for a communication agency. This happened to be right up my alley and I stayed for a couple of years also being a Project Manager and chief of logistics.
Finally my love for the outdoors and having restless legs made me leave Sweden for a short trip to Australia. That trip lasted for a year and got me experience as a cowboy at a cattle station, a weed picker at a chili farm, tractor driver at a sugarcane farm and a whole bunch of other jobs I will never end up doing again I'm sure of, but what a year and what an experience. After that, I went straight to Cebu in the Philippines to help out my friend who's running a Danish/Swedish call centre. I did that for a while and then spent a year doing my own thing with Amazon and coordinating sales agents in Sweden. When I heard that Cloud Employee was about to launch in Scandinavia through friend and director Seb Hall, I told him straight away to give me the chance because I saw the amazing potential for the Scandinavian market.
What made you join the Cloud Employee team?
I know Seb from earlier and when he told me Cloud Employee was launching on the Scandinavian market I told him straight away to give me the chance. Seeing the amazing potential of growing the business by utilizing the network I already have in Sweden and Denmark, it made me excited, to say the least when I got the chance.
Knowing I get to work with a great service, it felt amazing finding something I could see myself doing for several years to come, and truly enjoy doing it.
You are the Head of Scandinavian Relations, can you talk us through your average day?
Initially, I spend most of my days (and nights) exploring and developing ways we connect with companies and networks that would benefit from our services. Making Cloud Employee the go-to company in the business of outsourcing developers. It's a big challenge but I love every second of it. With Sweden and Denmark being hotspots for tech startups, it's the perfect place for us to be right now.
Every day is a mix of Skype meetings, emailing and of course, the classic phone calls. At this point, it's basically all about leaving no stone un-turned in the chase off business and finding opportunities.
When the number of clients starts building up, my focus will of course change to taking care of clients and developers, making sure communication works and both sides are happy. I'm sure no day will ever be the same just as now, but until that is the case I will stop at nothing to make Cloud Employee well known all over Scandinavia!
What do you think makes Cloud Employee different/unique in serving clients?
Outsourcing isn't anything new for the Scandinavian market with India, Egypt, Sri Lanka and eastern Europe being the usual go to places. But the main difference with us is that we don't think like most others. It's not about getting the lowest price possible.
Outsourcing is so much more. Not only have we removed on-site project managers and let the clients have direct contact with their own exclusive developers, they are also a big part of the entire recruitment process to make sure they get the developer they will be happy with for a long time to come. We have realized that direct contact between client and developer, an amazing working environment, unbeatable benefits, and of course, fair prices on both sides, is the way to go if you want to have long-lasting client relations and attract the best developers in the country.
Can you share with us a success story with a client or alternatively your strategy in dealing with clients?
It's too early for me to talk about success stories. A good success story for me is usually a long one, where we get to help a client grow and succeed thanks to our services.
That being said, I do get to convert hard-headed business men and women on a daily basis. With their often bad experience of outsourcing, they are not always happy to have me trying to steal their valuable time, but in almost all cases, calls end up in long, giving conversations when they realize that we have managed to eliminate their fears and negativities about outsourcing. And more often than not, they ask for more information and kindly ask me to come back shortly when their staffing needs might change. So you could say I do get to have multiple (but tiny) success stories on a daily basis, and I have to admit, those calls always feels the best.
What do you love about working and living in the Philippines? What do you enjoy working with Filipinos?
When I first came here it was only supposed to be for 3 months, in less than a week I realized that will not be the case. The Filipino people are among the friendliest I've met, always welcoming and willing to share. No matter how little they might have. And after traveling the world I quickly felt at home in the Philippines, feeling it was a good balance of what I like and need. Good possibilities for work, lots of people with similar mindsets and interests, the closeness to beautiful islands with long empty beaches and mountains with breathtaking views. But also the big city life with a vibrant nightlife and all possible activities I'm used to from back home.
Working with Filipinos I have to admit took some time getting used to, but when the working culture differences were settled, it's nothing but great. Never have I've been surrounded with so much positivity and happy people making everything from regular day conversations to karaoke nights unforgettable. Here we all come from so very many different backgrounds but everyone is eager to share and that truly makes you feel like home, and that is a feeling you don't take lightly on when your family is on the other side of the planet.
What do you do in your free time?
As of now, free time usually means work, but that is because I've been given an amazing opportunity and loving every second of it. I basically can't stop my brain from doing what it does best so I can't see any reason to stop. But during the weekends I try to get out of town to enjoy the beautiful beaches and amazing scuba diving the Philippines has to offer.
Every now and then you'll also find me on one of Manila's well-filled dance floors dancing the night away. If I do have some time left over during the weekdays I usually let the true geek within me take over and I enter the amazing world of online gaming, despite knowing the risk of losing some hours of well-needed sleep is very likely.
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