Prior to 2013, Swedish-based insurance company Nordic Guarantee was in desperate need of a turnaround. That’s when Johan Brinkenberg was appointed as CEO, and given the mandate to do whatever he needed to make the struggling business a success again. Nordic Guarantee was initially launched in 1993 when the 4 largest insurance companies in Sweden joined forces to become guarantee issuers for the construction sector. Today, it is active across a range of industries and also works closely with Lombard Insurance Company — the leading surety insurer in Sub-Saharan Africa — an alliance which has allowed it to expand its reach outside of the Nordic region and into Africa.

Johan had worked as the CFO of the company since 2004 so was well aware of the steps that needed to be taken to put it back on track. “I had seen problems in the development and handling of the company and I tried my best to push for what I thought was right,” he recalls.

“I had all these ideas that I believed should be implemented to improve the company. Sometimes I was lucky and they were taken up, sometimes not. For instance, I thought that we were in need of a detailed follow-up of the larger plans we had, and that they needed to be done in a much more structured way. I had ideas regarding yearly internal reviews of larger clients, and I could also see a need to build a culture that had a strong commitment from all employees. Those were the important things that I felt were missing from the company.

“Then in 2012, we started the cooperation with Lombard Insurance Company and that was really the start of the transformation of Nordic Guarantee. When I discussed my thoughts with the guys from Lombard in South Africa, I realised that all of my gut instincts and ideas were more or less correct, when compared to what Lombard had done to be successful.