The Little Yellow Book is a series of short interviews with different members of the Landor team. You can find out more about who they are, what they do and what inspires and motivates them to do what they do.
Bengt Eriksson, Managing Director (Dubai)
Bengt is a man of few words but has many interesting stories to share. He is the Managing Director of the Landor Office in Dubai and is also responsible for Landor’s operations in the Middle East and North Africa. While he has spent a major part of his life in the world of branding, he has led an equally exciting life outside it too.
From a very young age when he was living in Gothenburg (Sweden), he used to look at maps and hoped to see the world. The adventurer in him wanted to explore; so he decided to study Geography at university – cultural geography to be specific. Although, he soon realized that it was not his passion. When the woman he had then met (who later became his wife) was leaving town, he followed her and took a job as a writer. As a child he wanted to write and now he had the opportunity to live his dream.
(Image Credit – blog.asimut.com)
He worked as a journalist. He worked as a copy writer for an advertising agency. He also worked for a software company auditing softwares and eventually ended up in the world of branding. Even today, he continues to seek adventure and live his life fearlessly.
What was the beginning of your professional career like?
My first job was with the smallest newspaper in the country. Starting as an unpaid volunteer, I worked my way up. I eventually ended up at the biggest newspaper in the country. Both were starkly different experiences. Having said that, I believe working in a small setup is the best professional school one can ever attend – you learn to do everything. I was writing, I was editing and I was also doing the photography.
How did you end up in a software company from there?
I was working with a tabloid newspaper where we were working long nights. I was having second thoughts about this lifestyle and was getting pressure from my family to get a 9 to 5 job with a cubicle and coffee breaks. While I loved the company and the people, I honestly did not enjoy my job.
I had to write pages and pages of accounting manuals. It later proved handy as today I can manage the Finance Directors, thanks to that.
What came next?
I realized that I was not cut out for the 9 to 5 corporate routine – you are either a natural fit there or you are not. I dabbled for a bit in advertising and even managed to set up my own agency with a few friends – every young creative’s dream.
How did Landor happen?
I was always restless and was looking for the next big and exciting thing. Through some friends’ recommendation I was offered a job at Landor (they were looking for someone who spoke any Scandinavian language). It has been almost 20 years at Landor. There was no looking back.
If you weren’t at Landor, what would you be doing?
Probably be unemployed (laughs a little). Or maybe a journalist, still. I have always been open to everything. But, what I wanted to be if I wasn’t here, was to be an architect.
What has been one of the most challenging pieces of work that you have worked on?
I was new in Landor and we were working on a merger of 4 banks, over a period of 2 years – different cultures, different philosophies and different people were coming together. I was the authority from Landor; the whole board sitting in front of me was expecting to be told what to do. Hard learning and hard lessons but a spectacular experience.
Where do you see the future of brands going?
Brands that can go into the life management space and help people manage their everyday life. For example, the Amazon speaker that you can speak to.
(Image credit – money.cnn.com)
Also, I see a strong resurgence of local hero brands. Global in mindset, not necessarily global in distribution. Brands that are anchored in their community.
What is the best piece of advice you have ever been given?
When I was a General Manager at Landor, my boss told me about how to manage people: you give the credit and you take the blame. It is a difficult advice to follow but I do try.
How do you inspire and educate yourself every day?
I am old fashioned – I still read newspapers and magazines. Although to be honest, I have also learnt a lot from other people. They are sometimes the best source of inspiration. A lot of what I have learnt is also from my clients.
Everything you do, teaches you something. But the real question is – do you have the ability of bringing that with you?
Who would you invite to your dream dinner party?
People who I know very well. People who I have lost contact with.
Your life in a sentence?