I’ve been in Holland for a few days now but I’ve spent so much time chatting and looking around – which has been fantastic – that I haven’t had a chance to wrap things up from Sweden.
It’s always a difficult thing to say farewell to a place that means a great deal to you. I left Melbourne to go and live/study in Tasmania 17 years ago and whilst it was a big change, there was always the knowledge that I was young enough, and had deep enough roots there, to come back any time. This has been a little different.
Moving to Sweden was such a massive shift in my life outlook that I now find myself moving home with the knowledge that the chances of a full time return are quite remote. That knowledge adds a certain weight and finality to things.
My last few days in Sweden were full of good times catching up with friends and colleagues. From my mate Mats to all the Saab marketing and PR types. We broke bread and talked about the way things were, the way they could have been and the way we think they might turn out (for the record, Mahindra seems to be the consensus opinion when it comes to potential new owners people feel they can trust).
My last few hours were spent amongst Saab employees at a regular meeting they’ve set up at Innovatum, just near the Saab Museum. Peter Backstrom and I were both asked to speak – Peter, on the saving of the Saab Museum, and me on my time with Saabs United and Saab itself. It was billed as a battle of the heavyweights, which Peter and I gladly played up to.
If you haven’t read it yet, I posted my presentation here on site a few days ago. It was an emotional experience to deliver it and I don’t know if anyone present could tell, but I did choke up a little near the end.
We boarded the plane at Landvetter via the tarmac and I only just resisted the temptation to get all Pope John Paul and kiss the ground.
I missed my family while I was there, but I did love living in Sweden and working for Saab. I’m going to miss the place terribly, even if it’s summer back home while Sweden is colder than a mother-in-law’s kiss this time of year (it’s just a saying, Maman).
Landing in Holland, I was met by Nic and Stephan, two of the guys behind the We Are Many, We Are Saab meetings that were held in over 100 locations around the world a few weeks ago.
Nic’s been showing me around the area for the last few days including a brief stop in the land of Mrs Swade’s birth…..
We lunched on some of Belgium’s finest, leaving a lump of potato the size of a football in my stomach – yes!
We got together again with Stephan and his family last night (+ Jos!) and had a very interesting chat about the We Are Many, We Are Saab (WAMWAS?) meetings and the general situation for Saab here. These guys and their Saab colleagues in The Netherlands have done an almighty job and when you sit down and chat with them about it, their passion for the brand and the Saab Community in general is quite palpable.
I learned a lot about what was possible just by sitting there and listening and I know that a new Saab organisation could do the same. It wasn’t easy being in the Saab organisation whilst it was struggling so much, but sometimes we all get a little too involved in what’s happening in our own silo to look outside of it. There are plenty of willing people out there and plenty of good ideas. I guess the secret is having the relationships we need to communicate those ideas from trusted sources – something to work on if and when Saab is able to re-start.
Tomorrow it’s two-stroke heaven, then on to Blighty to catch up with some more friends before heading home.
Onwards and upwards, people……