Five years ago, Salomeh Tafazoli was employed by Volvo Trucks in Gothenburg – as a currency dealer. After a while, however, she accepted the role of project manager, with the task of creating a new proposal system for dealers.
“I met a huge number of sales staff from all over the world. They gave me an insight into their everyday routine and underlined the support that is needed to do a good job,” Salomeh Tafazoli explains, adding that her job is really interesting and rewarding.
As a result, Salomeh was offered the job as manager of a newly established process development department at dealer level. Her task was to develop the business systems that provide dealers with maximum support.
At the tender age of 26, she was tasked with leading a team dominated by men, the oldest of whom was 64.
“I have never felt discriminated against, either because I’m a woman or because I have an immigrant background,” she says and adds that she sometimes fells pressurised because of her young age.
“But as long as I keep delivering, there’s no problem. Since last winter, I have also been head of logistics development,” she continues.
Recently, Salomeh Tafazoli was also chosen as Future Female Leader of the Year by the Swedish career network Shortcut and the managerial organisation Ledarna (the Swedish Association of Management and Professional Staff). This award aims to spotlight young female managers and make them visible.
In the statement that was issued in conjunction with the award, Salomeh Tafazoli is described as “the role model of a modern leader who, with real awareness, makes sure that everything and everyone in her environment constantly develops: results, processes and people and, not least, her own leadership. With clear-cut communication, authority and a twinkle in her eye, she involves both co-workers and managers and implements what are apparently impossible projects”.
Salomeh Tafazoli can identify a number of reasons for her success.
“I have received incredible support from both the management and my co- workers in everything I do,” she says.
The confidence her co-workers feel in her is illustrated by the annual results of the VGAS, Volvo Group Attitude Survey, in which all the employees are given the chance to give their views and opinions of their immediate superiors, for example. She has been given the highest rating it is possible to receive as a manager.
At the same time Salomeh Tafazoli also identifies her mother as one of the main reasons for her success.
“My mother is incredibly strong and ambitious. She came from Iran to Sweden with me and my sister when I was five. Right now, she is the world’s proudest mother, but she is normally my greatest critic!”
As she was when, during sixth-form college, Salomeh Tafazoli decided to focus on acting and dancing instead of becoming an engineer, economist or dentist in the Persian tradition.
She came to her senses (!) after three years and started studying economics at the University of Gothenburg. After graduating, she went to the USA to work as a stockbroker for Fidelity Investment in Boston and New York, among other things.
“I was inspired to some degree by the film Wall Street and I thought the USA was so exciting.”
A few years later, fate brought her back to Sweden and the job at Volvo Trucks.
She has not really given much thought to her future career.
“I want to develop the whole time, together with other people. It isn’t that important whether this means moving upwards or to the side. As long as I feel that I am dealing with new challenges, I shall be satisfied.”