Life at Northmill - Henrik Engström: “Without people who share our vision, we don’t exist”


How much do skills and experience matter? For Henrik Engström, head of Talent Acquisition at Northmill, there are other important pieces of the puzzle. You need to be humble and curious, open-minded and a team player at heart. This is his story of how it works, a story about how much he values a certain vision - and the power of we.

There is nothing wrong with failing. Quite often, it’s our fear of making mistakes that takes our foot off the gas pedal and makes us hit the brakes. That’s not the case with Henrik Engström. As Head of Talent Acquisition, he knows the importance of learning by doing.

- It’s better to try something and fail than to do nothing. If you don't dare to try new ideas there will never be any progress - neither for you as a person nor for the business When you try, you learn. The important thing is to fail fast, and to learn from your failures. For myself that applies to personal life as well as work. I am not afraid of executing new ideas or initiatives. I believe this is how you grow.

Henrik Engström has the experience and the skills. Before Northmill he worked at Kambi, a company within the gaming industry, and was part of the growth journey from 300 to 1000 employees across Europe and Asia in six years.

- Talent Acquisition was a huge focus for me at Kambi, growth was the number one priority for HR. Before Kambi, I worked at Media Markt, in the retail sector, for five years and worked a lot with recruitment and growth as well. One thing the companies had in common was the fact that they were in a serious scale-up phase. Very similar to where Northmill is now.

So what’s the important thing when hiring talents?

- The challenge is to find people with the mix of soft skills and hard skills. But I'm also a strong believer in hiring for potential. You can always improve your “hard skills'', such as… Education... Experience… These are things you can improve. Your soft skills, however, are all about your character, your personality traits, and these things are a bit trickier to change. In a perfect world, you have both kinds of skills. But I personally - and I dare to say that we as a company - value soft skills more than the hard ones.

What kind of soft skills?

- Curiosity. Will to cooperate. An open mind. Selflessness. Positive mindset. We are a company driven by values, a very flat organization with a very open heart. We focus a lot on trying to improve our odds to find the perfect match. And it is just as important for a person to feel that it’s the right role and context here at Northmill, as it is for us to feel that the person is right for Northmill.

Henrik spoke about the consequences of a new employee that doesn’t fit in. The costs he mentioned are interesting and important to go back to.

- Why is recruitment so important? In short, it's all about sustainability. A bad hire could be very harmful for us as a company. There are both direct costs and indirect costs connected to a bad hire. Money, energy, and time that we instead can spend on our customers, developing our products, and investing in our people. Our ability to attract, hire, and keep brilliant people is an absolute necessity for us. Without them we don't exist.

- Direct recruitment costs are costs like, for example, staff cost, marketing cost, job boards, cost for recruitment tools, etc. Everything is pretty much in vain when you fail and need to do it all over again... Indirect costs can be wasted time that colleagues and hiring managers have spent on the recruitment process, onboarding and introduction. Time we could have spent on our customers and product development instead. A bad hire, a bad fit, can also have a negative impact on a certain team's productivity and engagement - two key elements.

Productive and engaged, you say… How about you? What kind of person are you?

- I’m a behavioral scientist with a bachelor's degree in psychology as my main subject. I have a thing for firm creativity, such as gardening. I like to sow a lawn and see the results, to buy an old boat, put some time and effort on fixing it and see the results. I also enjoy my own company. I don’t have any problem spending time with myself. Yes, I'm more of an introvert than an extrovert.

Nobody can predict the future, but as a thinker and a doer, Henrik tries to glance at it.

- We are in a scale-up phase at Northmill, especially within tech. In terms of new products and new markets, we are growing and we constantly try to improve. This concerns everything from marketing and analytics to finance and HR - not to mention customer success. We want to take care of our customers and keep improving our 4,8 out of 5-rating on Trustpilot by doing so.

There is nothing wrong with failing. When you try, you learn. Henrik Engström knows this - and when he is asked about why the staff is important for Northmill, he smiles and shrugges.

- Why is blood important for the body, or the sun for Earth? The people are Northmill. We are the company. That’s why we talk about the power of we. Without people who are committed and share our vision, which is to improve financial life, we don’t exist. We also include our customers in “We” - which is both unique and another reason I really like working at Northmill.

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Quick questions

Favourite movie?

Favourite book?
"Det är bara i ditt huvud", by Nemrud Kurt. It makes you think, in a good way, about what’s important in life.

Favourite food?
Schnitzel with potatoes.

Coffee or tea?
Coffee, unfortunately.

Would you rather look into the future or change the past?
Look into the future. You only regret what you didn’t do.

The forest or the beach?
The forest.

Favourite team in sports?
Djurgårdens IF.

Pizza or pasta?

Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo?
Alexander Isak.

What languages do you speak?
Swedish… And English.

Al Pacino or Robert De Niro? Speaking of Heat…
Oh… Wow… Pacino.