Louise Lennersten is a familiar face for many in Linköping Science Park. We have met the energetic CEO of Interspectral who shared her story on how she ended up where she is today, how Interspectral made their best quarter ever midst the corona crisis and her best advice on how to be a good leader.
Louise Lennersten started her journey in HR and studied and worked with human resources for many years before she ended up as HR Manager at the tech startup Narrative. When Narratives structure changed, Louise got more responsibility within the internal processes and her role shifted into COO.
–As an HR-manager you are in an organizational role where your biggest focus already lies on the core of the company- which is the people. So changing into a more strategic role was not a big step as there is a close bond between HR and CEO, says Louise.
She continued her startup journey by joining LEAD as a startup manager in 2016 with focus on connecting entrepreneurs and researchers with each other. She built a pool of great entrepreneurs and was the go to-person for researchers who wanted to commercialise their projects.
– The researcher does not always fit in the role of an entrepreneur. And sometimes there is a really driven entrepreneur type of person but without the right ideas.
An unexpected question
It was also during the time at LEAD when she first encountered Interspectral. Interspectral makes interactive 3D-visualizations based on actual data and their software Inside Explorer has, among other things, made it possible to digitally look inside a mummy. Interspectral came to LEAD in 2017, looking for support with their business.
-It’s actually a rather funny story! One day I was visited by two of the founders of Interspectral since they were looking for a new CEO. Since Interspectral already was an established company they didn’t quite fit our programme and the way that LEAD could help them was quite limited. But then, during the meeting, they asked me if I was interested.
This was a question that Louise had not anticipated and since she had just found out that she was pregnant with her third child she turned the offer down. Some time later, during Louise’s parental leave she crossed paths with Interspectral again, who were still looking for a new CEO. This time the timing was better, and Louise accepted their offer and joined the team shortly after.
-They gave me such a great feeling and the team was amazing!
A shapeless ball of slime
And now, about three years later, Louise still seems to be in love with her team and points out that she is incredibly proud of her employees. The company was tested during last year’s corona crisis that turned the market upside down (or as Louise describes it, turned the market into a shapeless ball of slime that can’t be controlled). But the team was not pulled down by the challenges.
-Instead of letting this affect our energy and motivation, we rolled up our sleeves and tried new things, changed our processes and most importantly we became closer as a team with a joint goal: To succeed in a world where it’s impossible to succeed.
And their hard work paid off! Interspectral did their best quarter ever during the last months of 2020. And as we all know, engaged employees are the product of an engaged leader so we asked Louise about her best tips on leadership. She is quite clear on that she does not see herself as a traditional boss.
-I don’t believe in hierarchies or the “the boss knows best”-mentality. I was not appointed CEO because of my expertise in our products but for my ability to reach results by coaching the team.
Be human towards yourself and others
Louise explains that she believes that as a boss you need to be able to share both good and bad days with your co-workers.
-A feedback I often receive is that I am very human in my approach towards myself and others. If I want my employees to be honest and open towards me I have to treat them the same way.
Another key in Louise’s leadership is transparency, even about dismal situations, because she believes that the only way to turn them around is by working together.
-I don’t keep any secrets from my employees, they all know how the status of our liquidity, business plan and market.
For many years Interspectral has been an active member in Visual Sweden which, among other things, has led to their new business area within additive manufacturing. The project started from a common initiative with Siemens and led to Interspectral’s product AM Explorer.
-It has been great working with Visual Sweden. The network has given us opportunities to test and develop products and services and the project with Siemens is one great example where we got the chance to use Siemens 3D-data on our visualization techniques.
#storiesfromthesciencepark is a series where we highlight interesting people and stories around Linköping Science Park. Do you have an interesting story we should write about, tell us!