Helge Ericson, 1890-1953
With the appointment of Helge Ericson as president of Ericsson in 1942, a telecom engineer was once again in charge. Ericson was recruited from Televerket, the Swedish PTT, where he over nearly 20 years had gained comprehensive knowledge of the telephone industry. Furthermore, he had previously worked at Ericsson.
However, it was not only Helge Ericson's experience from the telephone industry that made him such a good choice for the job. During the first half of the 1940s, World War II was raging, which naturally affected trade relations with the rest of the world. Helge Ericson had valuable knowledge of the supply problems caused by the blockades during the war, since he had worked with these issues within the National Industrial Commission.
Helge Ericson had accepted the job as president with some reluctance. He was a reflective person, and his decisions were always carefully considered. He was reluctant to leave a public service position for private employment. He also enjoyed his work at Televerket, where he had worked since completing his engineering studies in 1918.
Helge Ericson finally decided to accept the job as president of Ericsson under the condition that his wife would be allowed to accompany him on longer trips. This was hardly a disadvantage for the company. The Ericson couple's pleasing demeanor on social occasions was highly appreciated at home and abroad.
Helge Ericson made friends easily and got along well with people. At the same time, he could be very determined when it came to business. He always treated others equally, regardless of their position in the company, which was a quality that made him popular as a boss. He came from simple circumstances himself and never let success in his career go to his head.
His interest in the employees was evident in all the time that he devoted to social activities and clubs within Ericsson. He started courses in various subjects and supported such leisure activities for employees as sports, music and lectures.
Telephony, however, was naturally Helge Ericson's main interest. During his 30-year career in the industry, he worked within several areas, including manufacturing, operations and concessions.
Under Helge Ericson's leadership, Ericsson evolved into a pure telecommunications company. Demand for telephone materials rose sharply, and there was no longer any time for investments in other areas. Existing factories were expanded and modernized, and several new ones were built, including the first of Ericsson's Swedish industrial plants outside Stockholm. Helge Ericson also started a sales company to be able to serve customers outside Sweden more effectively.
The fact that Helge Ericson succeeded in quickly adapting both manufacturing and sales to post-war conditions is a tribute to another of his management qualities - the ability to explain the reasons behind his proposals and to win support for them. At the same time, he placed his trust in employees. He was driven by a creative spirit, and according to Marcus Wallenberg, who was chairman of the board for many years, "everything just seemed to grow around him."
In addition to his job, Helge Ericson had other assignments, which included being a member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Engineering Sciences and chairman of the Federation of Swedish Industries. But the assignment that he enjoyed the most was one that combined his technical and personal interests as chairman of the Museum of Technology Foundation.
On June 9, 1953, illness forced Helge Ericson to retire as president of Ericsson. He died the same year on August 14.
Author: Katarina Reinius