Predrag Pucar exudes the wisdom that comes from a long professional life among towering giants and fast-paced start-ups, and a deep insight of the skillsets of established and early-stage businesses. With a steady hand, he guides small companies preparing for big growth through Swedish Scaleups.
– I love seeing businesses grow and finding their own path. Transformation is difficult, and to change sustainably is even more demanding. The great value for me is to support the progressive enterprises in East Sweden that paves way for a greener society. All in all, it’s about turning words into action. With my experience and know-how, I can act as a tactical sounding board for their own problem solving.
Predrag Pucar feels passionately about sustainable development and Green-Tech, and to be located in Linköping is a given, based on the opportunities and the competence that thrives here. Throughout his professional life, he has worked in both large and small Tech companies as an engineer, manager, project manager, COO and CEO. Currently, he is the COO of InviSense, which provide affordable sensors for moisture measurements, Co-Founder of the management consulting company DIXOR and, in addition, he has several board assignments and political commitments to drive green ideology in the municipality. In his coaching assignment for Swedish Scaleups, he supports SME businesses that stand before a growth transformation.
His career path began at Linköping University and a Master of Science degree in Systems Engineering. After graduating, Predrag stayed on as a doctoral student under Lennart Ljung, university lecturer and a guru in system identification and control theory. Predrag continued to do a dissertation in Control Technology, more specifically “Modelling non-linear systems”. That meant dipping his toes into what would become today’s Artificial Intelligence. With that came an early grasp of systems technology and an avid interest in one of Linköping’s most prominent fields of expertise.
After his studies, he tried his wings as an engineer at Saab. He came to stay for a full fourteen years, holding several different positions and duties.
– This is where I learned the engineering craft. During my employment here, I held several different management positions, including a position as deputy project manager for the Hungary sales account, sub-project manager for the new Gripen and later chief engineer for the Gripen and the Brazil sales account.
The experience granted a deep knowledge of the engineering profession and insights into the enormous, and sometimes stagnant, machinery that runs large organizations.
– I got a pretty good idea of the big business archetype. I had seen what happens when the processes take over and halters a product launch but also learned what it takes to get the wheels turning again.
With these insights, came a longing to move towards a smaller scale and something more fast-paced. It was in this frame of mind, on the balcony of the summer home in Croatia, that he received a call from a former colleague.
– It turns out, my name was top of mind when he received the assignment from Audi to hire a Swedish CEO for NIRA Dynamics. I was ready to try something new and accepted the offer.
Then, NIRA Dynamics was a medium sized company in Sweden, owned by Audi and Fredrik Gustavsson, professor in sensor informatics at Linköping University. The technology and research behind the business idea also stemmed from the university. Predrag Pucar received clear directives; attract more external customers and increase the number of products in the portfolio. Under his leadership, the workforce increased from 18 to 130 and partner companies were established in China and Japan. Predrag was struck by the difference between large and small business and vowed to never return to a large corporation. But NIRA Dynamics’ fantastic growth and success also faced him with a conundrum.
– We repeated, almost like a pledge, to “never grow beyond 50 people” while the company flourished and grew. But to maintain the culture of the smaller, familiar company we made sure to set up and clarify the common values. At 75-80 people, a company transforms into an organization with completely different conditions and requirements, but if the mutual values are allowed to permeate everything, then the culture of the small-scale business is retained even in the growing company. Clarity, a common ground, and a shared story are all crucial in everything from strategic decisions, product development to new hires.
With NIRA Dynamics’ corporate success, Predrag felt the motivation to help even more SME companies with sustainable transformation. He chose to leave for the management consulting company DIXOR, which he founded together with his daughter. A significant focus for DIXOR is applied AI solutions and one of those associations led to a collaboration with AI Sweden and Linköping Science Park. Along this path, he was later recruited as a coach for the accelerator program Swedish Scaleups.
– I can relate to the start-up companies and their search for the right recipe for success. You can’t just pick a ready-made formula out of a book, and that’s where Swedish Scaleups can offer support. The coaches are all entrepreneurs from different fields, with a wealth of knowledge and experience from running our businesses. The program might not be rocket science, but to get access to a dedicated guide and the opportunity to get help right down to the detail level can be pivotal for the young business’ success.
Predrag has been with Swedish Scaleups for almost two years and has coached two companies during this time. He feels that the exchanges with the companies and the other coaches are stimulating both his personal and professional growth. Essential to all his assignments within the accelerator program is longevity and sustainability.
– Sustainability has unfortunately become a buzzword, where it should instead be our sense of urgency and will to act. Transformation is action, and though it requires a great effort, the reward lies in an ability to remake society for the better. As a company, you can act operatively; how do you contribute socially and environmentally? Where do you make your investments and how do you distribute them? Linköping Science Park is a good example of action over words; Through their high level of activity and initiative, they have built an enormous strength to highlight the region’s progressive companies and support the Green-Tech innovations made in East Sweden.