Report: Jan-Ake Jonsson being courted by Volvo

I didn’t want to write about this last night. I ignored it, actually. It was another DI.se story and I didn’t want to give it any oxygen. My actions don’t matter that much in the overall scheme of things, but I didn’t want to confirm to these guys that they can publish whatever crap they like and have it picked up by everyone.

But I guess they can.

The proliferation of this story into other news services and the sheer number of emails I’ve got in my inbox about means I have to say something here.

The story:

Dagens Industri wrote a brief story yesterday stating that Jan-Ake Jonsson is being considered a top candidate for the job of Volvo CEO. They said he’d been contacted about it. JAJ had no comment other than to say that he’d promised Victor Muller that he’d stay at Saab for a long time.

The view:

There’s good reasons for people to be keen on Jan-Ake Jonsson. He’s a great manager. But when I first read a translation of the story (admittedly through my own tainted view of DI.se’s work) I read it as yet another story of instability at Saab rather than anything else.

Personally, I see the possibility of Jan-Ake Jonsson leaving Saab as being as remote and senseless as the story about Saab closing last year. Yes, it nearly happened but at no point did it make any sense. And that’s why I’d be astounded if there were any consequences from this story.

JAJ started at Saab decades ago. It’s part of him. Why would he go through everything that he went through in the last 18 months and then just pack up and leave? What’s the incentive? You could say it’s dollars but I tend to think this sort of experience trancends money when you’re at JAJ’s career level. It’s not like he’d be short of a quid already.

The reminder:

I guess you could say that this story is a good reminder to the Saab board that they have people working for them that have done extraordinary things in the last 18 months. They need to make sure they retain them because people who prove they can do extraordinary things are attractive to others who need extraordinary things done for them.

Saab’s management team led the company through the biggest corporate reconstruction in Swedish history and steered the company through a near-corporate-death experience. Veterans like that are hard to come by and have to be retained.

These people have proven their value to Saab and I guess Saab has to honor that experience in a way that ensures they hang around and build on the success story.

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