- Programme: Accelerated Development Programme
- Nationality: Swedish
How a water well in Africa brought business executives together
For Jonas Rosqvist, a group decision to launch a fundraising initiative at the end of their executive education programme summed up everything good about the programme – and was a testament to the power of positive thinking
There’s a part of London Business School’s Accelerated Development Programme (ADP) called the Commonwealth Game. For this exercise, Professor of Organisational Behaviour Richard Jolly asks participants to contribute £10 each to play out scenarios that illustrate traditional corporate and societal structures. At the end the participants are invited to choose what to do with their £10. In the past groups have made very different decisions – from planting a tree on campus to going to the pub to buying a sofa for future students at London Business School to relax on.
When the 32 members of the ADP cohort, which finished in November 2017, were asked what they wanted to do with their money they came up with something special – they decided to turn their £320 into enough money to fund a water well in Mali – the home country of one of the programme participants – and set about appealing to their companies, friends and families for donations. By the time they closed their online fundraising page they had raised £12,000.
For fellow programme participant Jonas Rosqvist from Sweden the fundraising initiative was a good reflection of the mood of the group. “There were so many big hearts and helpful people involved,” he says, “no one was negative and everyone pitched in and really helped. I think it demonstrates how when you have a higher purpose that is completely unselfish then surprising and positive things can happen.”
Such positive feelings were also a fair reflection of the course content according to Rosqvist, a senior information technology (IT) manager from Sweden, who was struck by Professor Dan Cable’s work on positive psychology. In particular the way Cable gathers memories about each and every person on the programme from their nominated colleagues, friends and family.
“It’s really hard not to be affected by this,” says Rosqvist. “You are given a piece of paper with people describing times when they have seen you at your best and when you read what they have written it’s 100 per cent certain that you will be moved and start to think differently.
“As a result, back in the workplace, I’ve started to tell people in my team when they do things really well as it is so easy to focus only on the problems and on the negative.”
Rosqvist, 44, went on the ADP hoping to get a wider perspective on business and arm himself with new management tools as he joined the six-member group management team at his company, 3STEPIT. Headquartered in Finland, the company offers lifecycle management of IT to mid- to large-size companies. They help with purchasing the IT, maintaining its performance and then after a period of typically 36 months, they replace it, take away the old unit and sell it on to the second-hand market. It’s this third “step” that Rosqvist manages as Chief Remarketing Officer.
Rosqvist has six direct reports based in Finland, Sweden, the UK and Singapore, while the company covers 10 countries and he finds himself travelling two or three days a week. To try to manage time with his wife and five-year-old daughter, Rosqvist has adopted some of the techniques he learned on the ADP. The biggest impact, he says, comes from booking two hours into his diary at the end of every Friday – the first hour is to reflect on the week and all the meetings and activities that have taken place, the second hour is to plan and prepare for the next week – which also makes it easier for him to plan his time with his family.
Rosqvist moved into IT after nearly a decade in sports – as a golf teaching professional and as a caddy for two Swedish golfers on the European tour. First Klas Eriksson and then Pierre Fulke who went on to be part of Europe’s Ryder Cup-winning team in 2002. So what was Rosqvist able to contribute to their game?
“I am quite calm, I don’t get stressed, and hopefully I had some good tips for them and saved them some strokes,” remembers Rosqvist. “But I sure could have done with all the advice I got from the ADP back then; it would have come in really handy.”