Greta may be tough. And her personal story is nothing short of a wild ride. But she is also an emphatic person who cares more about her employees than most. Something her manager in Falck spotted before Greta herself became aware of it.
“When my boss first asked me if I wanted to become Station Manager, I said no,” laughs Greta. “I told him: ‘You know me. It’ll be hell for you if I become Station Manager. ‘He said: ‘I know. You should take it.’”
Greta had a rethink and decided she had to take the job.
“I always speak up. I always share my thoughts. And I always say what we should do instead. If I didn’t take the job, I’d just be complaining all the time instead. And it worked out well,” smiles Greta.
My way or the highway
Greta grew up in Northern Sweden alone with her mother and a ten year younger sister. Her mother was a nurse and worked hard to provide for her two girls. Greta was an unruly and headstrong teenager, so she moved out at the age of 15.
“I was a terrible teenager. Horrible. When I moved out, I dropped out of school and started working in restaurants to support myself. And somehow, I always ended up in some sort of managerial role,” says Greta.
This Greta attributes to her being very opinionated.
“I have a strong will. It often leads me to managerial roles,” says Greta.
Then, at the age of 21, Greta got her first child.
“I thought ‘I have to go back and finish high school if I’m to take an education and be able to provide for my child’,” says Greta.
So, Greta went back to the books. Got two more children and became a Specialised Nurse. Why nurse? As Greta says, children of doctors become doctors, and children of nurses become nurses. So, she became a nurse like her mother.
Money or emergency care
As a nurse, Greta was attracted to the emergency unit. She liked the action of the place and the unpredictability. But Greta also likes to have a busy schedule. Busier than most. So together with some colleagues at the emergency unit, she decided to start a private clinic.
Business was going well. Really well. But Greta was not happy.
“The clinic was going so well I had to decide between the emergency unit or the clinic. I couldn’t do both. It was too time-consuming,” remembers Greta.
She decided to quit the clinic.
“It wasn’t me. I had to do something else. The patients were quite well off. They didn’t really need me. It was all cosy and nice. They left us champagne and chocolate. But it was not enough for me,” recalls Greta.
She went back to the emergency unit. But going back was not really moving forward. And Greta needed a change. So, she decided to opt for ambulances instead.
“I love emergency care. And ambulances are a natural part of emergency care. But the environment is very different outside the hospital. It’s just you and your colleague. You have to make the decisions. No one there to tell you what to do. I like that,” says Greta.
Lead the change
Before she joined Falck, Greta talked to many of her friends who worked in ambulances – both at Falck and in other companies. And some of her friends warned her against joining Falck.
“Apparently Falck had a somewhat bad reputation. And the neighbourhood in which the station was placed had a bad reputation. But I thought, how bad could it be? And when people tell me I can’t do something, I tend to take up the challenge instead. And it turned out to be the best thing I’ve done so far,” smiles Greta.
Without much experience in either Falck or with ambulances, Greta got appointed Station Manager. But her lack of experience is actually an advantage, believes Greta.
“I’m unconstrained by the traditional way of doing things. I can question things and bring new ideas in play more easily. And I have all my colleagues and employees to lean on if I need help.”
And as for the bad reputation, Greta cannot recognize it.
“The work to change the reputation started before my time. And there’s a complete cultural change taking place. You can feel it from the top down. The energy. The enthusiasm. The values that drive us today. In every decision I make, my focus is our employees. Always. How do they feel? How will the decision affect them? How will it make them better?” says Greta.
People & Relations
For Greta, the best part of her job as a Station Manager is building relations. She enjoys people management. And she is very vocal about addressing and rooting out structural biases to ensure her employees equal opportunities. Something she attributes to her own background.
“I always believe we can do better. I want to create better terms for our employees. And I want to develop our employees so they want to stay with us. If my heart’s not in it, I couldn’t do it,” says Greta.
At the same time, Great is very transparent in her communication. She believes it strengthens her relationship with her employees and makes it easier to explain the decisions she and her co-managers make.
”It’s important to me that our employees feel they can trust us. That we’re reliable. How you communicate is key to establishing that trust,” says Greta.
But with all the managerial duties, how about the emergency care part of the job which made her join Falck in the first place?
“I miss it. And I sometimes try to find time to work in the ambulance too,” smiles Greta. “I’d hate to miss out on the excitement completely.”