Sven Ture Åberg, 1903-1974

President, 1953-1964

"Shoot" was often Sven Ture Åbergs greeting when an employee wished to talk to him.

- He was never impatient, however, says Arne Stein, who was manager for executive sales during Sven Ture Åbergs tenure as president.

- Sven Ture Åberg was a friendly and sympathetic person who carefully listened to what his colleagues had to say. We were always given the time to discuss things, but we were expected to get straight to the point, without beating around the bush.

More likely it was the case that Sven Ture Åberg during his years in the US, where he represented Ericsson in the late-1930s and early 1940s, had become somewhat Americanized. Ståberg, as S T Åberg was called by certain employees, had the positive qualities of a salesman. He was outgoing and friendly. But he was not purely a salesman. According to his colleague Arne Stein, Ståberg's manner was never abrasive. He was always diplomatic and also found it easy to express himself.

Sven Ture Åbergs first employment at Ericsson, however, was as a network engineer directly after completing his engineering studies in 1927. Because of his outgoing manner, he was occasionally sent on foreign assignments in Europe, the US and South America. In 1946, he was called back to Stockholm to assume responsibility as the director of executive sales, a department that was virtually created by Åberg. In 1953, after nearly 25 years at Ericsson, he was appointed as president.

Before this occurred, he had actually been dismissed at one point. The hard times in the early 1930s forced Ericsson to dramatically reduce personnel, and Sven Ture Åberg, who at that time was in South America, was one of those forced to leave his job. He moved to Ecuador, where he worked as a sales representative for Ericsson on a consulting basis. Once back in Sweden, he was re-employed and was able to continue working in South America.

As president, Sven Ture Åberg took the initiative in an extensive, strategic and clearer internationalization of Ericsson than previously. Thanks to his many years abroad, Åberg had excellent language skills, which in combination with his selling skills, made him a formidable negotiator.

At the same time, Ericsson became more sales-oriented. The company achieved considerable market success with its products, particularly with the crossbar switching system, which resulted in the establishment of manufacturing companies in several overseas markets, such as Australia and Brazil. Plants were also opened in France and Italy. Thanks to Åbergs conscientious efforts, Ericsson was now a major international company. The telephone operating companies were discontinued almost entirely, on the other hand, thus contributing to a consolidation of operations that had started under Helge Ericson.

Sven Ture Åberg worked intensively and kept long office hours. On one occasion, an Ericsson colleague suggested that Åberg should move closer to the office. "Oh no! In the car on the way home to Saltsjöbaden is the only time I'm alone," was Åbergs answer. This was his kind of humor.

- Sven Ture Åberg had an ability to enjoy himself when you were supposed to be having fun, relates Arne Stein, recalling how Åberg had a postcard from the US in his office that read: "The boss might not always be right, but he is always the boss".

- Åberg was not at all bossy. He never made a point of being the boss, even though he very much liked his job as the boss, continues Arne Stein.

In addition to his job at Ericsson, Sven Ture Åberg had many assignments within industrial and trade organizations, such as the Swedish Federation of Industry. That he was an engineer at heart was evident in his interest for gadgets.

- He was always fascinated by technical things. On one visit to the US, Sven Ture Åberg purchased a voice distorter that he installed in his own and his colleagues telephones for when we were discussing competitors. He also bought a lot of technical equipment for his sailboat. Sailing was almost a necessity if you worked for Marcus Wallenberg, relates Arne Stein.

In 1964, Åberg was forced to resign as president after having been afflicted by Parkinson's disease. He remained on the Ericsson board until his death in 1974, serving his final year as an honorary member.

Author: Katarina Reinius

BRAZIL, 1969, ERICSSON TELEPHONE PLANT

Ericsson do Brasil, the biggest telephone plant of Latin America.

AUSTRALIA, 1962, BROADMEADOWS PLANT

The president of Ericsson, Sven Ture Åberg, takes the first sod for the new Ericsson plant.

SWEDEN, 1954, STATE VISIT AT ERICSSON

The Emperor Haile Selassie of Ethiopia and King Gustav VI Adolf of Sweden visit Ericsson, the museum. Demonstration by the president, Sven Ture Åberg, of the first Ericsson telephone.

© Telefonaktiebolaget LM Ericsson and Centre for Business History

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