Heads Up with Eve Henrikson, GM Uber Eats, NED Lloyds Bank Corporate Markets and NED at Sonae

Eve Henrikson is Non-Executive Director at Lloyds Bank Corporate Markets – a subsidiary of Lloyds Banking Group as well as Sonae, a EURONEXT listed portfolio businesses. In her executive career she has been working as GM for UBER Eats across Europe, Middle East and Africa as well as MD Online for Tesco and has over 20 years experience in general management and digital transformation roles in both scale ups as well as turnarounds.

What does good leadership mean to you?

At the simplest level: Being clear on vision, goals and strategy, ensuring these are understood in all functions and levels and setting up the organisation to deliver effectively against these. If that all is true, good leadership enables and ensures strong execution, adapting and changing throughout the journey where needed. This might sound easy, but mostly it’s not.
A good leader should also listen, identify and remove barriers and obstacles that are impeding their team and impacting their performance.
At the next level: A good leader doesn’t just deliver commercial value for the business and shareholders but positive impact to its people and society alike. In fact, for me personally this is a non-negotiable Must-Do as a leader, too.

What is the best example you have seen of Transformational Leadership?

I have had the privilege to be part of the Tesco turnaround journey and have seen truly transformational leadership here – changing the business in a multi-year journey. It was probably one of the toughest experiences in my career and covered all aspects of the business – from its purpose and goals and therefore where, what and how we were operating which has driven the turnaround of the business. A key element of its success was also the change and transformation in company culture.

What is the most important thing you have learnt in your career so far?

Maybe a few thoughts on this – and I would hope not to surprising.

1. “What got you here will not get you there”. This is true as an individual as well as for business overall. A successful leadership style for your current role might not be what is required for your next role or in a different business and culture. At a business level, delivering excellence in your core proposition but also pushing for change and disrupting yourself is key for continued success. Someone once said to me that the most dangerous time in is when you are at your best – as the risk of becoming complacent is highest.
2. To my point above on transformation – culture is at the heart of every business. It can be a key enabler and obstacle alike if you want to drive change. Don’t underestimate it, nor how long and the effort it will take to change.

How did you get to where you are today? Did you take a strategic, planned approach to your career or has it been more opportunistic?

My journey has been driven by my desire for learning. I have always looked for opportunities to grow and consequently have been happy to explore not only different industries including Tech, Grocery Retail, Fashion but also different business challenges – from scaling for growth to turnarounds. With each role I have taken on new responsibilities as I have been open to challenging myself.
Was everything planned – No. Have I been proactive in following my Need for Learning and seeking out new opportunities – absolutely Yes. And with every new role I have taken on I have considered the potential pathways it would open up to me in the future.

Is there anything you wish you’d known when you started your career? And anything you would tell yourself at an earlier stage in your career?

1. Focus on your strengths, understand your weaknesses. Often I have been told to focus only on improving the skills that were called my weaknesses. Don’t get me wrong – that is important. But I think it is even more important to understand and over-index on your strengths – your superpowers if you will, and focus on roles and businesses that allow you to utilise these, building a leadership team around you that complements your strengths and your weaknesses alike.
2. Take care of your network. I have underestimated how important your professional network becomes as you progress in your career. That doesn’t mean how many connections you have on LinkedIn but the network of people around you who you support and add value to with advise and experience as well as other connections. The network you’d be happy to reach out to at any time and who do the same with you.

What changes to your industry do you anticipate over the next two years and are you excited by this?

This will not surprise you but I do believe (gen) AI will drive big changes over the coming years both in terms of productivity as well as ability to create better Propositions and Products for customers. Everyone is experimenting their way forward here and I am super excited about it. What I would say is that automation, algorithms, machine learning and AI are all only as good as the data they rely on – so I am focusing a lot on ensuring that data availability, integrity, quality and security is a key strategic priority in the businesses I support.

What type of people do you like to work with and what makes them good leaders?

Ok. I’m cheating a bit here as I’m giving you a combination… I really enjoy working with teams and people who are:
• Smart & driven – so you can create the best Products and Services in the world (and personally, I like to be challenged and learn from others around me).
• Low-ego and honest – so you can work together effectively as a team.
• And in teams I really enjoy having people with diversity in thought – because that’s what brings creativity and often innovation.

What fascinates you about your job?

Well, there have been two things in all of my jobs – the first one is learning through complex and challenging problem statements. My role as General Manager for Uber Eats has probably been the most fascinating here, especially given the complexity of Europe and Africa as regions I looked after. The impact you can have is immense.
The second one for me has always been people. Every business ultimately serves and is also driven by people. If you understand what drives and motivates customers, partners, and employees you have a much greater chance of finding good solutions, better partnerships, clearer ways of working – and that applies at a company level as much as at a team level.
As a leader what skills do you continuously work on to keep you at the top of your game?
You need to understand your business in context of the world so I try to not just look inside but also outside – what industry trends, political developments and macro and micro-economic factors might impact you? And in current times there is no shortage of challenge in the world around us.
I also try to keep abreast of key evolving tech trends (such as AI) as well as regulatory changes.

What keeps you awake at night?

I actually sleep quite well at night, my husband will say that’s because I steal all the blankets. In all seriousness, I think a good night’s sleep is pre-requisite for me to be able to be at my best.

What is the best way to switch off in your free time?

For me, it’s mostly time with family, but I have also learnt that I need me time and my own space to look after myself – be that going for a run, reading or strolling around the zoo with a coffee (I live very close to a zoo).

Interviewer: Melissa Reed

Please feel free to contact Melissa directly via email mreed@hiec.com should you have any questions or would like to discuss the above or anything else further.