• Name: Heidi Wik
  • Role: Business Area Manager
  • Office: Stockholm
“- I always tell my employees: JGC- Just get cracking!”

Heidi Wik at Crosskey in Stockholm wants to make the company better known. She has all the tools: An enthusiasm that is infectious, an integrated team and products that the market likes.

And if all else fails, she has a slogan up her sleeve: Just get cracking! (in Swedish KBK - Kör bara kör!) She also has the experience to mediate between fighters and angry neighbours.

Since 2007, Heidi Wik has collected a bunch of titles on her Crosskey business card. She started at the Buisness Area Banking as Product Specialist. Later she became Project Manager and Sales Manager. Today, with the title of Business Area Manager, she is head of the entire Business Area Banking. This means that Heidi juggles organizational and personnel issues, leadership, marketing, and finances for the business area and of course, the sales of Crosskey's banking system.

But a conversation with Heidi actually deals very little with system sales. Instead, she returns consistently (and very stylishly) to what drives us as humans, what makes us tick and what makes us feel involved. She also has valuable insights about cultural differences between Sweden, Åland, and Finland.

- I grew up in the small town of Nykarleby and I speak Swedish with my father and Finnish with my mother. Therefore, I have always focused on the person I'm talking to and learned not only to talk, but also to feel what the other person is saying.

In Finland, business people often jokingly say that Swedes want to discuss endlessly, while Finns immediately proceed with the task. Do you agree?

- I have a clear idea about it! If you have a Finnish and a Swedish project, the Swedes will discuss longer before taking a decision and starting to work. The Finns start working faster, but it takes a while before everyone is clear about what should be done. Both teams will be ready at the same time, i.e. the calendar time is the same.

So what is your conclusion?

- That it makes no difference whether you're Swedish or Finnish! Things turn out well anyway! However, it's important to remember the difference when you have a mixed team. Both these models work well, but having lived in Sweden for more than four years, I now lean more towards the Swedish model. This also fits better with Crosskey's agile working practices.

How would you describe your own leadership style?

– I work a lot with creating a basis for projects and establishing pre-conditions for my team. At sales meetings, I try to calm the situation. It's about dealing with complex matters, but it's simultaneously about the fact that starting a bank is a fairly straight-forward process for a certain number of months in which certain things must be achieved. There is no need to over-complicate or mystify anything. I always tell my employees: JGC- Just get cracking!

Right, so is JGC an expression of unrestrained enthusiasm?

- Yes, absolutely. It's something I work actively to achieve. It's about liberating out enthusiasm. We always have to have the courage to take decisions. Yes, I know this is a cliché, but if most of the decisions we take are right and only some are wrong, the outcome will be best in the end. This insight is also liberating.

Liberating our enthusiasm means releasing ideas and creating the pre-conditions necessary in order to thrive in our work?

- And when we thrive in our work we achieve the best possible results. If you never receive any response to your ideas, then you suffocate. But if you work well with your team, if you feel involved and understand your contribution, then you feel a sense of synergy in return.

“- Just as in Finland, we also have a good reputation in Sweden and we have products that match our customers' needs."

Do we dare to draw a parallel here to Crosskey's roots in Åland, an archipelago society where the collective way of thinking is a common thread?

- Yes, definitely. Furthermore, people from Åland are generally very entrepreneurial and when that aspect of their nature is encouraged, a culture can be established where everyone wants to be part of the creative process. At Crosskey, we never dwell too much on our own small projects: we all want to be part of creating something bigger.

It must certainly be a culture that is important to protect when you grow?

- Exactly, it's a real challenge. We must actively listen and make sure we pick up on the ideas that are generated internally. We have come a long way over the past year, for example with the Lab Days, where creativity is allowed to flow and possibly lead to new products. We must maintain and preserve our small scale and not allow the formal processes to become too dominant. This requires that I and everyone else take account of the big picture when we communicate with our customers and our colleagues.

How do you mean?

- When I worked for Crosskey in Mariehamn, I also worked as a volunteer at the Åland mediation office. I could be called in as a mediator in case of a dispute or disagreement. For example, it could involve two people involved in a fight outside the pub or neighbours who were starting to quarrel. Together with both parties I would review what happened and we would try to find a solution that could satisfy both parties. Through this work, I came to appreciate the importance of not taking a unilateral view of the world. We all have our own interpretation of what is happening around us. When you realise that, you can listen to others in a committed and honest way.

Is that also how you work with your customers?

“Yes, it is. Just as in Finland, we also have a good reputation in Sweden and we have products that match our customers' needs. But I would add that we start each project by working hard to identify the business value for the customer and then provide each customer with a high level of attention - by listening to and understanding the customer.

Finally, what could you do better?

- We could become more outgoing and be better at explaining what we have to offer, without sacrificing the quality of what we deliver. I like Ålandsbanken’s advertising slogan, Where we come from, we have to be able to look each other in the eye. That's how it is. We should explain what we have to offer and always be honest and open. It's been said many times before, but the truth is the same: People buy from other people and they prefer to buy from a person who sincerely cares.