Karlsson and His 3G-String

Do you know what a music band, 3G-String, and Ericsson Thailand has in common? Well, they are both run by a Swedish executive, Hans O Karlsson. 
Karlsson is Ericsson Thailand’s president and country manager, and he has good reasons for giving his band the sexy name. First, the 3G broadband cellular network is the company’s flagship, and second, there are many string instruments in the band. Third, he murmurs confidentially, “Some of the band members really do wear G-strings!”

Executives who band together
Shortly after taking office at Ericsson Thailand in 2004, Karlsson found eight band members and all of them are Ericsson executives. The customer account manager, Wichit Piriyasombat, is the band leader while Karlsson is the guitarist and the keyboard player is the chief financial officer.
“I believe that for myself, the band brings more energy, more fun; it bring us together. It’s not there to make us famous, but to prove that it’s never too late to learn and you can always do better,” he says.
The band had its debut in 2005, playing the Creedence Clearwater Revival classic “Have You Seen the Rain?” for Ericsson’s regional marketing meeting in Thailand. The success of the first show led to other gigs, including the company’s year-end party, the Sweden Society Annual Ball and even a couple of pubs.
Karlsson has also linked his passion for music with the way he recruits his staff. He sometimes asks applicants if they have any musical skills and, what’s more, whether they’ve tried coyote dancing. “It’s not a joke,” he says, stifling a laugh. “I really ask them.”

On company management
When it comes to a serious subject of company management, Karlsson welcomes comments from his colleagues and likes to have the highest quality executives around him. His pet dislike is people who, after leaving a meeting, talk behind his back about their disagreement with his ideas.
He believes that working with the best colleagues is a chance to improve his own game. It’s just like playing his guitar in the band. Playing with other people of musical ability helps him improve his skills much faster than learning by himself.
“My boss’s father told him that you know when you have done a perfect job in recruitment when you feel that the person you recruited could one day be your boss,” Karlsson says.

What’s next for 3G-String
As long as Ericsson Thailand performs well and the fans still enjoy the Ericsson 3G-String Band’s gigs, the musical group looks like staying together. But what will happen when Karlsson’s term as president ends?
“It’s my hope that the band will survive in one way or another, whether my successor is a musician or not. I’ll work hard to make the band become an integral part of Ericsson Thailand and hope the tradition will continue,” he says.

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