From the deep blue sea to the world of IP
Erik is a Principal in our Stockholm office, providing IP and related services, including strategic business advice, to a wide range of clients.
These days Erik spends much of his time helping clients make the most of their intangible assets. At first sight, it might seem a world away from his passion for scuba diving - a passion that began with his father’s encouragement during his schooldays in Sweden and later took him around the world, from the Mediterranean to some of the best dive sites in Asia. But the curiosity and enthusiasm that led to his passion for scuba diving, and the diving experience itself, also led him, in the end, to the world of IP.
Erik’s early schooldays were spent at Falun, a town in Sweden famous for its copper mine which, for many centuries, was the largest in the world. Now, the town, the mine, and the surrounding landscape have been placed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. In those early days Erik was much more interested in Nature than schoolbooks. He loved climbing trees and studying animals – and already he loved the water. It wasn’t until senior school that he began to focus on his studies and then he excelled in the Natural Sciences and sometimes dreamed of becoming a marine biologist. When he was 15, however, he moved away from home to attend a private secondary school that basically prepared students for Engineering studies. It was, in some ways, the equivalent of an English boarding school: he was living in a small flat, in a community of other students.
It was around this time that his father introduced him to scuba diving in the cold waters of Sweden and Norway and he was immediately enthralled. While still at school, he took a summer job his father had arranged for him on a construction site in Malta. One day, as he wandered down to the harbour, he discovered a little dive shop, which, in reality, was not much more than a man, Simon, sitting on a chair smoking a cigarette. At the beginning, Erik was Simon’s only paying client and Simon took him to all the sites around Malta and Gozo, most of them wreck sites. Then, between them, perhaps putting Erik’s entrepreneurial skills to good use, they managed to attract some more customers and Erik spent many happy hours instructing.
Back at school, he was doing well, but by the time he finished he was thoroughly tired of study and decided to get a job in the nearby factory that manufactured high voltage infrastructure equipment. He worked there for eight months, running a milling machine, and feeling rather pleased with himself for being a proper worker. He soon discovered, however, that the other workers there were very different from him. Whereas he was always looking to see if things could be done better, they were very conservative and resisted change of any kind. It was an invaluable experience: he learned a lot about people and a lot about himself. He realised he needed to move on and decided to study Economics at Linköpings University (south of Stockholm), which he did for about 18 months as a part-time student, before deciding he would really rather be studying Engineering full time studies and economics part-time. So he enrolled in an Engineering course at Chalmers University of Technology in Gothenburg, which is regularly ranked among the world’s top engineering and technology universities.
Erik had always chosen to undertake some kind of work while he was studying, feeling he needed the extra stimulus. This time he got one job in the cargo section of the railways, loading trains, and another, again with his father’s help, as a consultant energy engineer. The jobs were interesting and they also enabled him to save some money. When he graduated with a BSC (Engineering) and was feeling rather bored by the prospect of an engineering career, he decided to go travelling and do some diving instructing in Asia. He maintains that diving is more than just a pastime: it expands your horizons and shifts your perspective, enabling you to think in a different way. He set off first to Thailand, largely because there were a lot of Swedes there and it would be easy to get a job. Then after 14 months, he moved on to Sulawesi in Indonesia, where the diving is more demanding and arguably better than in Thailand, and then to the region of Sabah in north Borneo, Malaysia, and the waters around Sipadan, one of the world’s most famous dive sites. It was a diver’s dream – crystal clear water and reefs teeming with marine life: turtles, masses of schooling fish, rays and sharks. After a couple of years, however, it was again time to move on, this time to further study.
Erik found a Masters programme at Chalmers University that seemed tailor-made: M.Sc (Business Design). It was a business-oriented course, combining engineering, finance and law subjects. He says his decision to enrol turned out to be one of the best decisions, professional and personal, he has ever made. The course was challenging and intense, students were pushed to think in a different way, and he was in his element. And it was here he met his future wife, Hoda.
On graduation, he got a job as an Intellectual Asset Manager with SKF, the world’s largest bearings manufacturer, in Schweinfurt, Bavaria. His work focused mostly on high profile innovation projects within SKFs innovation programme, and involved spending time at R&D sites in Germany, Austria, the Netherlands, France, Italy, Sweden and the UK. Meanwhile, Hoda was a global management trainee for the dairy company Arla and she was spending most of her time in Denmark and England. They met up wherever and whenever they could, but ultimately decided it was time for them to settle down in Sweden.
In 2018, their daughter Alia was born, adding another dimension to their lives. Erik’s hope for Alia is that she remains as happy as she so obviously is now – and that she fulfils her dreams, which, if she is anything like her father, will involve being able to be constantly stimulated. Although he does sometimes still dream of life as a marine biologist, Erik is more than happy - and certainly constantly stimulated - helping clients identify, protect, defend and commercialise their intellectual assets. His natural tendencies, his varied past experience, including everything he has learned under the surface of the water, are being fully exploited. He can’t believe his luck!