Martin Sjöstrand takes us on a journey

From time to time, he goes by the nickname Mr 100%, Frasse, or Martin Sjöstrand as he is usually called. When I meet him to speak about his upcoming time with us at Sting Bioeconomy, he talks about choosing to see work as a chance to go on a journey together with others. Now, we have the honor of accompanying him on his next one.

Martin will be involved in both the analysis phase as well as coach companies at Sting Bioeconomy, focusing a bit extra on international companies. Martin, who is usually based in Stockholm where he lives in a floating house, a so-called “Aquavilla”, is visiting us in his old hometown Karlstad on an overcast day in late August. He enjoys the proximity to nature here, where an evening walk along the river takes you through forest areas very close to the city center. Martin, who was born and raised in Kiruna, has always had a special relationship with nature but has a CV that lists a plethora of both big cities and different positions and titles. “I usually say that I’m a specialist in being a generalist”, he says when we sit down to talk about how he finally ended up at a company here in Karlstad again.

After trying out life as a rock musician in the Uppsala band Hansa Band, with among other things a Swedish #1 on the merit list, Martin was a student at the very first cohort of the computer engineering course at Chalmers University of Technology. During his studies in Gothenburg, he learned a lot, including the fact that programming was not really for him. Instead, he started his career as a project manager at Ericsson Programatic in Karlstad. “I’m a very driven person and find it quite easy to get people on board, and I’m also pretty good at speaking for my cause, so I often get the resources I need which usually makes things a little easier.” The network intelligence unit TSAC’s project office at Ericsson Programatic was the next step. He explains, “It was a fantastical trip, I think all of us who were there can agree on that. As pioneers in our field, we had the whole world at our feet.” It was during these years at Ericsson that Martin got to know both Britt Lööv and Victor Isaksen, and that’s where the nickname Mr. 100% stuck.

An early morning around 7 o’clock on a 4,000 meters peak in the Monte Rosa massif in Italy after a glacier hike.

As both curious and a little impatient, the step out into the world came quite naturally for Martin. When TSAC was about to open an R&D operation in Ireland, it took Martin just 15 minutes, including a phone call with his wife, before it was decided that he would jump on the management job there. With his equally driven wife by his side, the family has since then also lived in Florida and is now back in Stockholm. Martin has bought and/or established companies in the USA, Germany, the Netherlands, Australia and Norway and worked with people and projects all over the world. For Martin, travel is a recurring theme. “Humanity likes travel, both physical and in the form of books and films and the like”. It was after a conversation with a former colleague from Ireland that Martin brought that allegory into working life as well, he tells how the colleague exclaimed “I miss working with you Martin, everyday when I woke up, I was longing for work – because you made us feel we were always on our way somewhere”.

“If I can take people on a journey with a clear direction and we have a shared vision of where we want to go, and if the team is committed to that journey, then we are already ahead from the start. For me it has never been important to have hundreds of people or a really big budget to work with, I think it’s fun to work with interesting people!”

The desire to make a difference has been there for Martin from scratch, but it was as the CEO of the power electronics company Powerbox that it properly took hold. Powerbox had been purchased by Alder, an investor company that focuses exclusively on green investments. Alder wanted all portfolio companies to implement a so-called ESG philosophy. A sustainability mindset centred around Environmental, Social and Governance felt right up Martin’s alley. “I thought that was super exciting, and I went all in. It touched on how we as businesses can contribute to a better world, not only environmentally, but also by running the business in a long-term and socially sustainable way. When we did just that, we also gained financially, because our customers wanted the same thing!”.

Since then, Martin mentions discussions around the dinner table with the family as an important place where the interest has deepened. All 4 of his children are interested in sustainability issues in one way or another, and some of them work at sustainability-related companies or study with that mission. “I want to give back! I know that I want to work with sustainability, and you can do that in a few different ways.” says Martin, who most recently worked as the CEO at the startup/scale-up company Lexplore, which uses a unique technology with so-called eye trackers and AI to quickly assess and help children and young people improve their reading ability. In the spirit of sustainability, Lexplore operates under the slogan “Making the world a better place, one reader at a time.”

Martin at an altitude of about 3,800 meters during a mountaineering course on the glacier “La Mer de Glace” on Mont Blanc.

In addition to work, nature and adventures play a big role in Martin’s life. Mountain climbing and exploring the Alps might be at the top of the list – journeys are made here as well. “I’m from Norrbotten, so I like snow and winter, but I prefer the weather to be a little milder and sunnier. When my two sons worked for a season in the Alps, the family started hanging out there. The Alps are intense and spectacular, and the family fell in love with the village of Le Bez in the Serre Chevalier valley, so we have a place there now.” Music also continues to play an important role in Martin’s life “I still play in a band! We have a gig next Monday. We’re not quite sure of the name yet, but right now we’re called Social Experience, we’ll see if that changes.” Martin says with a smile on his face.

We’re happy that Martin’s next journey will be with us at Sting Bioeconomy!

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