Please meet...

07 June 2024

Mattias Fridström, chief evangelist, Arelion

Mattias Fridström, chief evangelist, Arelion

Who was your hero when you were growing up?
All my heroes were sports players when I was younger as I really wanted to be a sports star! Wayne Gretzky and Ingemar Stenmark were big inspirations for me but pretty much anyone who was at the top of their game at the time, regardless of sport, was an idol for me.

What was your big career break?
When in 1999 I went from a subsea cable engineer, building subsea cables, to being manager of the team that constructed the Arelion (then Telia International Carrier) fibre network in North America and Europe. I started at exactly the right time, when the era completely exploded and almost everyone wanted to build networks everywhere. For a few years I travelled the world, met so many funny and crazy people and learned a lot that even today is still extremely useful in our business.

What did you want to be when you were growing up?
I really wanted to be a superstar in sports. I competed in almost all sports disciplines and was sometimes upset that there were only seven days in the week so I could not do them all! Football, ice hockey, volleyball, badminton, squash, downhill skiing, and golf are just a few examples of where you could find me competing for local glory. At the same time, I had a big passion for school and just loved maths, physics, chemistry, and the rest of it, so I ended up being quite good at everything but unfortunately not a superstar at anything.

What’s the greatest technological advancement in your lifetime?
It is kind of a dead race between the mobile phone and the world wide web, if they can be considered technological advancements. When I tell my sons about life before these two ‘life changers’ they look at me with big question marks. The way we have information at our fingertips today is just amazing.

The Rolling Stones or the Beatles?
Growing up, my idols were Kiss, Helloween and Iron Maiden but later I also grew to love both the Beatles and the Rolling Stones. The way both of them broke new ground and inspired new generations was really cool. Having to choose, I would go for the Rolling Stones but maybe that is a bit biased since they are more or less still alive and playing.

If you could dine with any famous person, past or present, who would you choose?
I would have loved to have had dinner with Severiano Ballesteros. He has unfortunately passed away, but we would have discussed all the tricks and infamous stories behind his Ryder Cup success and how to use your imagination when playing your golf at the toughest golf courses. We would also have eaten great Spanish tapas and enjoyed some good Spanish wine in some warm location in Spain.

What’s the best piece of advice you have been given?
My manager during 2001 taught me that when top managers make what seem to be weird decisions - they might actually have more information than you realise. Don’t draw conclusions too early. Before this I was a young and upcoming manager and really questioned everything I heard if I did not like it, since I always believed I knew better. That advice is still with me today and helps me to be more understanding and curious when I hear things that sound a bit strange.

If you had to work in a different industry, which would you choose?
It would be really cool to work within the space industry. I still find it amazing that we travelled to the moon more than 50 years ago and even today I find it hard to believe that we can send a rocket to space just to find a space station in orbit that we can connect to and work in. Not too many things in the world are ‘rocket science’ but this really is rocket science.

What would you do with £1 million?
I would desperately try to find someone who could invite me to play a round of golf at Augusta National in Georgia. I understand you need to be invited by a member but with that money in my pocket, I could try to use my contacts to find someone who would be willing to support me! The rest of the money would be used to buy apartments for my two sons to make sure they end up close by once they finish their current university studies.

Where would you live if money was no object?
I would actually not like to live anywhere else than Stockholm. Even if I sometimes question this on the darkest, rainiest days in November, I love the four seasons that we experience every year. Maybe a nicer house in a better place but being close to friends and family is key at the end of the day to me.