Following in my family’s (sustainable) footsteps
Sofia, the floor is yours! Please introduce yourself.
Thank you! My name is Sofia Öfverström and I am part of the Presales & Commercial Management Organization for Ericsson in Europe and Latin America. My role is Managed Service Presales Lead, and I’m based in Mexico City.
So, how would you explain what a ‘Managed Services Pre-sales Lead’ is to someone that doesn’t work in the tech space?
I’ll start with a bit of background. With the introduction of new technology and rising volumes of devices with various new requirements, the cost and complexity of operating networks is increasing. Traditionally, managing operations involves responding to incidents in the network as they occur and getting people involved to help manage them. However, as we look to the future, this reactive approach is becoming unsustainable. To tackle these incidents more proactively and to become more experience-centric, we are utilizing a data-driven operating model, using artificial intelligence (AI) and automation to predict, detect and resolve issues faster, or even before they occur.
Customers can opt to have full ownership of their operations or outsource them. With many years of experience and expertise in operations, this is where Ericsson comes in to support our customers on their transformation journey.
It’s a fascinating part of the business to work in. As part of the pre-sales team in Managed Services, it is my main responsibility to engage sales opportunities in the Latin America and Iberia regions, making sure we find the best solutions proposals to meet our customers needs. The role requires a balance of both technical and commercial skills. One of the things I really appreciate about my job is the opportunity to work with so many different customers. Every project brings a new challenge to me.
What kinds of projects do you work on in your role?
When I arrived in Mexico at the beginning of 2022, my main mission was to explore how we could bring more value to one of our customers from our existing portfolio, which required a strong understanding of the operational challenges they were facing.
One of the things they highlighted was a desire to lower their energy usage, to become more sustainable and subsequently save costs.
After some interactions with the customer to better understand their situation, we identified our artificial intelligence/machine learning solution (AI/ML) called Predictive Cell Energy Management (PCEM) as a potential option. This solution is targeted at reducing the energy consumption of the radio access network (RAN), which on average accounts for 80% of our customers’ network energy consumption. PCEM allow us to put radio cells into sleep when traffic is low through AI/ML predictions and real-time monitoring, without compromising the end user experience. With the ability to dynamically lock and unlock individual cells based on current traffic, PCEM is a great complement to our other power savings features, helping our customers to optimize their energy consumption.
In the initial phase, we carried out a feasibility study of the 3G and 4G network to examine the potential savings in OPEX, energy consumption, and CO2 emissions. And the outcomes of this study were very promising! Besides showing great monetary savings potential, the possible reductions in CO2 emissions were substantial. One of the reasons for this is the availability of clean and renewable energy sources which the customer could utilize in their countries.
At this stage, we have just finalized a live trial of the solution, which was performed in a small cluster of the customer’s network.
What was the experience like working on that project?
I am thinking back to the very beginning of this project when we first positioned this solution to the local team in Mexico. From day one, the commitment shown by the customer and our internal teams has been amazing to see. We started with just some few people initiating the discussions over a Teams meeting, which quickly expanded to a large team supported by multiple functions across the business.
I believe that timing was crucial for this project. Sustainability is at the core of how we are carrying out business today. Similarly, our customers have strong commitments to reduce their environmental impact. The interest from our customers for this type of solutions is high, and I am proud to say that Ericsson offers a wide portfolio of products, services, and software to improve energy efficiency, that we are continuing to advance and expand.
Amazing! Could you share some more about your Ericsson journey so far?
I joined Ericsson in August 2021, freshly graduated from university with a great enthusiasm to enter the ICT sector. With a degree in business management and several years’ experience in the financial services sector, telecommunications was a completely new knowledge field for me. Today, I couldn’t be more grateful that I chose to step outside my comfort zone. These two years have been roller-coaster. Challenging, but at the same time, so much fun!
I am originally from Sweden, and I studied my Master's Program in Uppsala, a real student city. In the process of exploring what to do next, I came up with a ‘magic rule of three’ to guide myself in what I wanted to achieve:
- Enrol in a graduate program.
- Enter a new and exciting industry with innovation at the core.
- Join an organization with an international presence.
Funnily enough, Ericsson was not top of mind. Mainly due to my academic studies in marketing management, and my previous work experience within insurance and banking. But as soon as I started researching graduate programs learning about the Ericsson Early Career Program (ECP), I knew it ticked all my boxes. Besides the program structure, which I felt was unique, what got me hooked was the impression of a very strong business culture and community, that was well connected with the environment I saw myself working in. Secondly, Ericsson plays an important role in shaping businesses and societies by being in the forefront of new technology. My initial thought was, I just have to be part of this journey!
Fast-forward 18 months, and I’d completed three 6-month rotations in different areas of the business. From the start, I had a clear vision of gaining the full sales experience, both from a global standpoint, but also on the local market level, with the opportunity to work directly with our customers. In my first post I was immersed into one of our service offerings towards enterprise, as an Engagement Manager in the Sales Support team. My tasks included everything from supporting the existing sales funnel, carrying out market analysis, and working together with local markets to determine how we position our offering to our customers. For my second rotation, I knew I wanted to gain some international experience, as well as to get to know our customers and the network operational landscape better. I couldn’t believe it when I got offered the opportunity to go to Mexico to promote the Managed Services Portfolio and bring more value to our customers. I’ve been in Mexico ever since!
It's been truly incredible to get so much experience in such a short amount of time.
Sweden to Mexico is quite the change. What was it like relocating to another country?
I’ve always had a challenger mindset and openness to new settings, so I have really enjoyed the experience. The warm welcome and support from my co-workers in Mexico was a major contribution to my positive experience. Also, just when I arrived, the team began rolling out 5G with one of our customers - it was a very cool moment to witness.
I’ll be honest though; I’ve always had a soft spot for Latin America as I have family connections here. My uncle actually worked for Ericsson in Colombia back in the 90s (we’re talking 2G instead of 5G!). My cousins are from Colombia, and I really wanted to explore this part of the world and get some insight into the culture.
When I first landed in Mexico, it took me completely by surprise how busy it was. The city has a population of around 25 million people - very warm and friendly, and super easy to get along with. They are also incredibly funny! Not to mention the food culture, which is outstanding. I can't remember how many new dishes I have tried since I arrived. Watch out for the spiciness though, I made some early mistakes adding too much hot salsa to my tacos.
I would tell anyone that gets the opportunity to come over here to take it!
That’s lovely to hear. So, what do you spend time doing outside of work?
Since early age, I have always been interested in nature and outdoor activities, and I have my parents to thank for that. My mum is Norwegian, so when I was younger, I would spend almost every summer in Norway. We did a lot of hiking and fishing in the fjords and spending a lot of time around farm animals.
Being out in nature gives me a lot of mental strength, and passion for my job. When you enjoy nature as much as I do, sustainability is a big thing on your agenda.
I’m also a big people-person. I enjoy putting myself in social environments – that’s where I thrive. I have always been curious to learn new things, gain new perspectives, and I think the best way to do that is to interact with new people.
It’s great that sustainability is a passion for you. What drives you in the work you do?
My passion has always stemmed from the desire to contribute to a greater impact through the work I do.
From the very beginning I have had this mentality of ‘make things better.’ I want to do something that not only improves my customers’ business and operations but has a meaningful impact on the wider world around us.
To be driven in any job, I believe it is important to acknowledge the purpose behind what you’re doing. It’s a dream come true to be in a role that matches my values and passions – when we say Imagine Possible, we mean it!
How do your family feel about what you do?
They’re proud of me for doing something that I’m passionate about. I think my father especially is excited about what I’m doing, since he works within the sustainability field himself, and is especially skilled in renewable energy sources. So, I’m keeping it in the family for sure.
Equally, my family find it hard that I now live so far from them, but luckily, they will come visit me soon.
What world do you hope to see in the future?
I am very excited about the future, but I am also aware of that we must address the threats our planet is facing such as the climate crisis. It is no secret that we must change the way we are living to minimize our carbon footprint. New technology is a critical enabler in realizing this change, which gives me a lot of motivation to continue the work that I am doing.
What are your hopes and dreams for your own future?
I want to continue advancing game-changing technology in the sustainability field and continue contributing to reducing the environmental impact of the industry.
Last question: what advice would you give to someone that’s looking to work in sustainability?
Be curious! Sustainable technology needs continuous innovation, and to innovate requires that we maintain a creative mindset. We also need experts that understand sustainability and the challenges our industry is facing. Still, sustainability is a collaborative effort, and I truly believe it is crucial to get everyone involved.
A passion for the topic and staying perseverant is also critical. Although we might not experience the positive environmental impact in the short term, we need to act now to be the drivers of that positive change.
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