Annika Berglund new Chairman of the Board

The Board of the International Council of Swedish Industry (NIR) has appointed a new Chairman. In the spring of 2019 Mr. Erik Belfrage, Chairman of the Board for fifteen years, announced his plan to hand over the chairmanship in 2020 after introducing Mrs. Christine Bäckström as new CEO. The process of finding a successor has been on-going. Due to the sudden and tragic passing of Mr. Erik Belfrage in April, the Board of Directors gathered for an advanced Annual meeting and a new Chairman was appointed.

“We are pleased that Mrs. Annika Berglund has accepted the role as Chairman of the Board. Erik was very engaged in the process and I believe he would have welcomed the Board decision to elect Annika, who served as Board member under Erik’s chairmanship between 2013-2017”, says CEO Christine Bäckström.

Prior to her new role Annika Berglund, has been Senior Vice President Corporate Communication at Atlas Copco and during her twenty years in the company she held various positions in marketing and sales. Between 2015 and 2019 she was a Board Member of the Peter Wallenberg Water for All Foundation.

Leaving the company 2018 she started an independent strategic consultancy firm and a second company that promotes to inspire women to take charge of their careers and go for leading positions.

“I am very excited about becoming the Chair of NIR and look forward to contributing to NIR’s development and to sharing the knowledge of its important work and achievements ”, says Annika Berglund.

Three questions to Annika:

You live as you learn … (regarding promoting women to take care of their career to leading positions) What are your expectations on the role as Chairman of the Board?

I am really grateful for the opportunity to be the Chairman of the Board and look forward to reconnecting with NIR and its Board in this new role.

My predecessor Erik Belfrage has done a tremendous job, the organization has a very good reputation, it has committed and professional employees delivering results, and I look forward to contributing to the development of NIR from now onwards.

Related to the issue of taking care of your career: I believe that you can do what you want, no matter if you are a woman or a man. Let people know what you want and go for it!

You have worked in Swedish business for a long time. As Chairman of NIR  you will work in the nexus between private and public sector. What should these two learn from each other? 

The competitiveness of Swedish companies is close to my heart and I truly believe that they should be present in all corners of the world. It is only through presence that you can serve as a role model, influence, and contribute.

Having said this, it is always difficult to navigate in an environment that is complex and sometimes impossible even when it is obvious that business opportunities exist.

Through its work – and network – NIR can help companies to overcome the challenges by increasing the understanding of the requirements.

The Board members of NIR represent some of Sweden’s most global and successful companies. Through NIR they have a top-notch partner in increasing knowledge, insight and expanding their networks.

What do you think NIR can bring to the global challenges ahead? 

I believe that if NIR did not exist NIR would have to be invented considering the need for the private sector to engage in some of the most pressing global issues. Companies cannot do it all by themselves on their own.

As a member of NIR, companies can contribute to development cooperation, education, capacity building, business practices and sustainability in the most challenging contexts. To the benefit of both Sweden, the member companies/organizations and to the local societies that NIR is working with.

More recent highlights



lack of enabling environment for social dialogue at the workplace level, despite the provision of legislative acts that protect and promote workplace cooperation is a reoccuring issue  in Kenya. To implement good policy there must be a fertil ground.

Therefore SWP developed the UP!  project. Together with Swedish companies as an entry point, and with unions i South africa and Kenya. 

In Kenya SWP created the SWP UP! Programme targeting skills development of the union Shop Stewards from 18 companies in the Automotive sector in Kenya during 2021. As a result, the Stewards were able to use their skills to build trust and cooperation with management in new ways to avoid conflicts. 

A second cohort of training, in close cooperation with union AUKMW, takes place in 2022.

The training allows shop stewards to step out of their daily routines and understand their role and the purpose of their union, understand the labour market context, the laws that regulate relationships and the business itself. But on a human level, many shop stewards also highlighted that they feel respected as human beings, and that they have developed the skills to engage with supervisors and management and experience respect in professional relations. The experiences had deeply impressed them and helped to project the vision of dialogue and mutual respect and their own potential as a means to change workplaces.

The intervention of the SWP programme had a direct effect at the workplaces, where shop stewards listed several cases where they had managed to intervene and secure results in dialogue with management, avert crises or find solutions based on opportunities and the communication skills obtained during the SWP training. For the Amalgamated Metal Workers Unions in Kenya, the shop stewards pointed to how the training had enabled them to design their own strategies at the workplace in relation to supervisors and staff, and to achieve many concrete results.

Based on this shop steward upskilling, I feel confident that as a union we now have change ambassadors that will grow the industry, protect, and promote decent work principles for both the employer and the employees represented. And that disputes will be dealt with at the workplace level by though consultative dialogue.

Rose Omamo

General Secretary
Amalgamated Union of Kenya Metal Workers