“EQT’S MOST IMPORTANT ASSET IS OUR PEOPLE”

Towards the end of 2014, EQT employed almost 300 people. Today, EQT has over 400 employees in 14 countries around the globe. On the back of this significant growth, Tomas Lindén, EQT’s Global Head of Talent, shares his views on talent management and explains what EQT does to maintain and leverage its strong culture.

How would you describe EQT’s culture?

Our culture is best described by our core values, some of which reflect what you would expect from any private equity firm (for example ‘high performing’), while others, such as being respectful and transparent, demonstrate the way we expect our employees to act, whether it is interacting with stakeholders or supporting company development. It is not enough for EQT that someone delivers results, they must also behave in accordance with our values.

How have these values been formed over the years?

EQT’s initial team consisted of Scandinavians, all brought up in a culture characterized by collaboration and transparency, influenced by the Wallenberg family and their industrial roots. This has been a major influence ever since EQT was founded over 20 years ago and are still embodied by the likes of Thomas von Koch, Conni Jonsson and many other senior leaders, who were either part of the founding team or joined EQT early on.

In 2007, EQT formalized what was already part of our DNA – the aforementioned core values (see box to the right).

Why is culture so important to EQT?

Because we want EQT to become the most reputable investor and owner. Both investors and other stakeholders in society are increasingly taking interest in responsible investments and how returns are created, and demand more transparency from the private equity industry in return for giving us our “license to operate”.

Wanting to be part of society and having a mindset that everything can be improved at all times has characterized the way we have done things since inception in 1994. We firmly believe that keeping our culture intact is the key to being successful.

How does talent management play into this?

EQT’s most important asset is our people. The ability to analyze the attractiveness of investments and support the development of companies and assets in order to meet the highest aspirations depends on the people we have. This is why we dedicate so much time and effort on people and culture, so that we can give the team the necessary environment, training opportunities and tools to succeed.

EQT continuously recruits new talent, from junior to senior level, across investment strategies, specialist functions and offices around the world – cultural fit is an important part of this recruitment process.

EQT has grown rapidly in recent years. What impact does that have on EQT’s staff and culture?

EQT’s business strategy is based on the ability to attract and retain the very best talent, who will continue to build our brand. To do this, we need growth. EQT’s growth gives our team members unique opportunities to be challenged and develop. It makes EQT more attractive for new employees and Industrial Advisors, and works as fuel for new ideas to continue strengthening and improving EQT.

That said, the fast growth requires a rigorous on-boarding program. To support the organization in this, we have developed global Introduction Days for all new employees, eLearning tools and a “buddy” program. A key aspect of this is to meet new colleagues, learn from EQT’s approach to alternative investments, and understand the importance of our values.

Does the global nature of EQT’s organization pose a challenge or an opportunity in terms of culture and talent development?

It is absolutely an opportunity. By being an integrated firm, tools and best practices can be shared across the investment strategies to support an entrepreneurial and high-performing culture. It also encourages team members to gain experience from other investment strategies and work in new geographies and offices.

Naturally, given our global and dispersed organization, we need to work continuously and proactively to develop people in a systematic way. We do this in many ways, one example being the EQT Academy, a learning platform where EQT employees throughout the firm receive continuous training and development, regardless of whether they are an associate or even the CEO.