“To have the support of a large company opens up a lot of doors”

When the two economy students Johanna Herstedt and Daniel Gustafsson started their thesis work at Volvo Group, their approach was to take on the task with a mind-set of being at work. “We felt appreciated. Right from the start, we were part of something – we never felt like strangers at Volvo Group,” says Daniel.

Johanna Herstedt and Daniel Gustafsson, thesis writers at Volvo Group 2019

How did you apply for your thesis at Volvo Group?
Johanna:
I already had a connection to Volvo Group. I was part of a reverse mentorship program, and my mentee at Volvo knew that they were looking for thesis students in our field. It turned out to be a perfect match.

What support did you get from Volvo Group?
Daniel:
First of all, to have the support of a large company opens up a lot of doors to get access to people, both inside the company and in general. It also gives a great knowledge share effect and support that is hard to get without writing for a large corporation. Right from the start, we felt that we were really appreciated. We got access to a working space at Camp X in Lundby, Gothenburg, which is Volvo Group’s global innovation arena for technology and business transformation, with focus on Electromobility, Automation and Connectivity. We were encouraged by our supervisor to take part of events, join meetings and take every chance we got to not only observe – but to learn as well.

Your research method was qualitative interviews. How did you find the right people to talk to?
Daniel:
Our supervisor was a great support in finding the right people. It would have been very difficult for us to know who’d be relevant to interview without someone who knows the company. It also helped a lot when we contacted people at startups, to be able to say we did this with Volvo increase their willingness to allocate time to talk to us.

Did you feel that there was an understanding for the need of academic research when reaching out to people in the organization?
Daniel:
Yes! People were genuinely interested and made sure to allot time for the interviews if they could. It was obvious that academic work and research is part of the company culture at Volvo Group. For example, one interviewee said: “I remember when I was a student, and how much I appreciated when someone took the time to answer our questions.”

Was there something in the beginning that helped you get going?
Johanna:
In the beginning, when identifying the challenges and questions that Volvo Group are facing, we had a lot of guidance from our supervisor to help us narrow our subject. Also, we got contacts to some of the students from the last semester – so we could learn from their experience as well.

What did your daily routine look like?
Johanna:
We decided early on that we would see this as a work assignment. A professional attitude – for example working 9 to 5 on site – was a good way to get a grasp of the culture.

Is there anything in particular that surprised you?
Daniel:
How valuable people’s time is – and that you have to take into account that there are people at Volvo Group that have fully booked calendars.

Your thesis won the “The Malmsten Award 2019” for best master thesis at your program at the School of Business, Economics and Law in Gothenburg. How did that feel?
Johanna:
It was a really nice bonus to get that appreciation and feel that all our hard work was recognized!

Do you have any contact with Volvo Group today?
Johanna:
We have presented our thesis work to the organization. We keep in touch with our supervisor, and I believe that both Daniel and I would be interested in a continued relationship with Volvo Group if the right job opening appears.

FACT BOX

Name: Johanna Herstedt and Daniel Gustafsson
Role: Thesis writers at Volvo Group 2019
Location: Gothenburg, Sweden
School: University of Gothenburg

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