Currently, as an expat from Navistar in Lisle, USA, I am employed in TRATON's Group Product Management Office situated in Södertälje, approximately a 30-minute drive from Stockholm. I spend at least three days a week working on-site in Södertälje, while on the remaining two days, I either work from my home office or utilize the new Scania office in Stockholm. One of my primary responsibilities revolves around enhancing collaboration among the product development teams across different brands and facilitating knowledge exchange among colleagues. My main focus lies in optimizing communication channels for efficient utilization. The ultimate objective is for each team's activities to complement one another, thereby becoming a supportive component of TRATON's overall strategy. With this mission in mind, I am also advocating for the implementation of a shared platform across all brands. Any questions that arise will be clarified in a series of newly planned workshops with the Group Industrial Functions (GIF) teams and brand representatives.
This transition represents a fundamental change for me. During my time at Navistar, my focus revolved around executing individual projects that had to be implemented within a tightly defined schedule with specific timeframes. However, my current role entails the management of long-term strategic tasks allowing me to have a broader perspective. To be able to efficiently shape cooperation across the brands, it is important to be able to fall back on a good professional network within the TRATON GROUP. This is the only way to ensure that the right people are heard in the right forums — and that their ideas and suggestions are discussed and included in further planning. Thanks to my cross-functional experience at Navistar, I was able to use my contacts to ensure that a North American voice is represented in the Group discussions. What connects us? Both TRATON and Navistar place great emphasis on correctly identifying important issues — because this is the only way to provide the appropriate resources for the overall future roadmaps.
I receive invaluable support in my work from my Swedish colleagues in Södertälje, who not only make me feel like a part of a large family but also contribute to this wonderful experience. It emphasizes the fact that each of us can play a vital role in propelling TRATON forward. English is our primary language of communication at work, but I have taken up the challenge of learning Swedish. This motivates me to practice my new language skills during fika breaks, which are cozy coffee breaks. In this familiar and informal atmosphere, we engage in conversations that encompass both personal and professional topics. It is quite common for us to start discussing the best sushi restaurants in Stockholm or the current trending events, only to conclude our creative time-out by exchanging ideas on what German, Swedish, and US customers anticipate from high-performance and climate-neutral trucks. I cherish these inspiring and relaxed conversations immensely.
For all colleagues who also want to work for a TRATON GROUP brand or TRATON as an expat, my tip is to be open-minded and ready to listen to many different opinions. This is because those who work for or come from one of the brands will have different priorities — because they are used to focusing on the needs of their respective market and do not consider the requirements and needs of the Group first. Take a step back and objectively check whether the roadmaps and the vision match the results and the planning of your work. And bear in mind parking is much more difficult in Stockholm than in Chicago. It has become a running joke at TRATON to check with the expats how many parking tickets they have received in a week or month.
Apart from that, I can say that Swedes might come across as a bit more reserved than those of us from the US; but at the same time, they are very polite and happy to meet new people. Sometimes, they just need a little nudge to do so!
My enthusiasm for being an expat in Sweden has spread to my friends in the US — they are keen to visit me and get to know the company I work for. Luckily, they have until 2026, which is the duration of my assignment as a Navistar expat at TRATON. In the meantime, I stay connected with them and my family through WhatsApp, sharing updates about my TRATON experiences and outdoor activities like hiking along Lake Mälaren.
Now, during the evenings I take the opportunity to connect with other members of the Chicago chapter of the Society of Woman Engineers online. I engage in preparing keynote speeches and offering valuable advice on how women in technical professions can enhance their networking skills.
Best regards from Södertälje.