Get to know Marcus Ekman, Design Engineer and Project Manager at Saab, as well as a hard-working triathlete. Find out his thoughts and tips on what’s important in his profession and how an Ironman triggered a passion for cycling.
For Marcus, it was clear early on what he wanted to do: Since a young age, he has enjoyed technology and been interested in creating things. He was always helping out at home and was the problem solver in the family, driven by his curiosity and interest in development.
— I was always involved in reasoning how we could best resolve situations, like getting an ATV on a trailer with a gas lock and using the weight of the sawed-up log to its advantage. I felt early on that engineering was the only interesting thing for me.
Today, his focus is on Project Management in Mechanical Engineering projects, with a current assignment at Saab Aeronautics as Production Planner. The goal is to create an optimized and well-functioning delivery factory for the detail manufacturing operations, together with the Production Managers and adjacent sections. The work involves a lot of dialogue and interaction between different interfaces to reach the best way forward.
“The most important thing for me is the group: a good group with good unity can help you solve problems better and be super important for you as a person to have fun at work.”
What do you enjoy most about your job?
— I’d say it’s the interaction between different disciplines to work towards an optimized workshop. It often requires a helicopter perspective without losing the deep dive into specific manufacturing stations and working proactively.
G as in Group
Marcus’ first interaction with ALTEN was during his time studying in Luleå, and what started as a degree project at Saab in Linköping ended with an employment at ALTEN’s Linköping office. Or, ended is not quite right. It should rather be described as a transition, from student life and exams to consultancy assignments and work life. Since his start in the summer of 2017, he has had many opportunities to try out several different roles and tasks.
— I started my first assignment as a Constructor and early on I was given increased responsibility for integration work between different interfaces. This work led to the position of Task Manager and currently, I’m working as Project Manager as well.
— It forms an incredibly good basis, working as a consultant. To get the opportunity to take on various exciting assignments and gain knowledge and experience along the way. There are great opportunities within ALTEN and it’s very free. I feel that I steer my way forward along the path that I want to take.
“Knowing ALTEN has my back feels good, they’ve always had faith in me.“
What is most important to you in the workplace?
— The most important thing for me is the group: a good group with good unity can help you solve problems better and be super important for you as a person to have fun at work.
Along with being in a group comes community and a sense of togetherness. And while it’s important to have fun together, it’s just as important to feel supported and acknowledged in your everyday work.
— It helps with the self-esteem, both to be seen but also to see and encourage others. It’s just as important to be there for others when they’re going through a rough patch as it is for you. Knowing ALTEN has my back feels good, they’ve always had faith in me. It all goes hand in hand, both being seen and seeing those around you.
Togetherness – also outside the workplace
In his spare time, Marcus cycles a lot and he has completed several triathlons. At most, he spends up to 10 hours a week training and working out.
— You could say it started with a colleague pitching one challenge after another, and I have a hard time saying no when it comes to physical challenges. It started with obstacle course races, then “The Swedish Classic” and ended with an Ironman in Copenhagen. Of the various events included in “The Swedish Classic”, it was the cycling part that I fell in love with. Since 2019, I’ve been competing in Vätternrundan, which I’ve completed together with a bunch of colleagues.
Togetherness is a broad term that is not limited to the workplace. Many people may see cycling as a solitary sport, but Marcus claims it’s very social. You usually ride in larger groups together with others and it’s a good way to make new friends. He’s looking ahead to the next “Vätternrunda”, which takes place in June, with a clear goal in mind.
— If all goes well, this year we’ll run with Team ALTEN with a goal of around 7:55, an easy day’s work around the lake. That would be about 39.8km/h in average pace with two pit stops of about 120 seconds to replenish energy and fluids. Last year, we were one minute (!) off our goal of 8:00, so we’re hungry for revenge!
Insights and key qualities for an engineer
What future trends do you see in your field?
— I’m thinking mainly of the challenges and opportunities of new production possibilities. Additive manufacturing, in particular, has become more common in recent years and often solves very complex problems and needs, to some extent also in a more sustainable way. Instead of a waste 95% of a raw material you mill out the part from, you use 90 – 95% with a waste of only 5 – 10%. The world is changing and being able to accommodate new demands for sustainability is a big part of how we will work in the future.
“It’s important being receptive to change and seeing opportunities rather than problems.”
How do you work to keep developing?
— To continue in challenging projects where I feel that learning does not stagnate and where I can add with my previous background. Courses are great, but I prefer to learn a bit more hands on. Working with a group and seeing individuals while not letting go of the technology at work is very exciting and something I enjoy very much. It is something that drives my commitment.
What are some important factors to progress as well as possible in your field?
— In short: being responsive and open-minded. It means being receptive to change and seeing opportunities rather than problems.
Any tips for those who want to work with what you do?
— Be open-minded and dare to stand up for yourself and your values. Believe in yourself! Breaking new ground outside your core subject/comfort zone requires energy and taking time to reflect and evaluate.
Eager to join forces with Marcus and all other ALTEN colleagues?