An Interview with Our New President International, Stefan Sjöström

By Vicky Harris, Vice President Marketing on February 06, 2018
Vicky Harris
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Empowering Others to Transform Energy

We sat down with Stefan Sjöström, Joi Scientific’s newly appointed President of International Operations, to get an intimate view on his idea of “empowering others” and how this world view made him successful at developing Microsoft’s public market in Asia, and before that, growing Citrix’s markets in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa.

This idea of empowering partners is also what made him leave the comfort of a successful enterprise software career to join our company doing what he does best: enabling key market players to grow their business by giving them the technology they need to innovate and thrive. This time, however, Stefan is on a mission to transform how the world views and uses energy.

This our second interview with Stefan. In June 2016, while he was a business advisor for Joi Scientific, Stefan shared his thoughts on how Hydrogen 2.0 could be a “catalyst for equality” in an insightful interview. Back then, he saw our business from the outside. Since then, he has seen enough progress to decide to give his full-time commitment to our game-changing initiative. Lucky us. 

Meet Stefan Sjöström, Joi Scientific’s newly appointed President of International Operations.

The Interview

Vicky Harris, Vice President of Marketing at Joi Scientific, sat with Stefan last week to explore his idea of empowering others. Here’s what we discussed:

  • A key driver of your success at Microsoft and Citrix revolved around the idea of empowering others. Can you explain what you mean by this?

When you are in the business of bringing technology-based solutions to the market, it is your job to enable others to use your products and services to make their work better, or easier, or more efficient, or all the above. Both Citrix and Microsoft are in the business of providing tools that people use to grow their business. Microsoft, for instance, will not write a killer business plan for you, but it will give you the tools—such as spreadsheet and presentation applications—to help you concentrate on the content without friction. You can say the same thing regarding Citrix. An online meeting that runs smoothly makes people sitting in offices on opposite sides of the world productive, collaborative, and efficient. As such, you are not the hero. Your job is simply to empower the heroes, and that is what I mean by being in the business of empowering others.

  • Do you see yourself as an enabler in your new position as Joi Scientific’s President of International?

Precisely. One of the reasons I decided to join Joi Scientific full time in this capacity is because I strongly believe the challenge for a company like ours is to find the right partners and give them the technology they need to thrive. In the energy market, key players need technology to enable them to offer the energy solutions that their customers and society demand: clean energy that is abundant and available. There is no way around this. Every company in the energy sector needs to find a way of providing sustainable energy in an affordable manner. Whoever is not thinking about this will not remain in business in the next few decades. For perspective, nearly all major cities here in Asia, who by the way, are the major users of energy worldwide, demand this kind of energy and have committed to getting it. I am here to enable their partners—whether they are utilities, transportation companies, factories, or even data centers—to provide and use the kind of energy cities demand.

  • Let’s explore the role that you see cities playing in the future of energy. A year ago, Microsoft published an interview with you for their Asia Vision Series, “Building Smarter Cities in Asia.” Define a smart city for us.

The interviewer, Koh Buck Song, a famous thought leader here in Singapore who has authored and edited more than 20 books, articulated it brilliantly when he wrote about our interview, “There is nothing more gratifying than seeing how technology is being put to good use in improving the quality of people’s lives.” It is that simple. A smart city uses technological innovation to thrive while making the lives of their citizens better. The traditional image of a metropolis covered in dense smog while growing uncontrollably will soon be a thing of the past. Beijing, for instance, famous for pictures of people walking with masks to filter dirty air, has outlawed motorcycles that use fossil fuels. Today, all motorcycles in Beijing must be electric. While the city still has a long way to go to become sustainable, the city government is well aware that they need to start somewhere. During my time working and living in Asia, I have spoken to many dozens of mayors and city officials. All share the same sense of urgency, and all are working with their partners to become smarter in their use of energy.

  • I would like to dive into a more personal aspect of your vision of empowering others. In that same interview for Microsoft’s Asia Vision Series, Mr. Buck Son wrote that you “resolved then, if given a second chance to live, [you] wanted to give back to society–and the most impactful way to do so was to democratize technology for the public good.” Would you mind sharing more about this personal resolve?

Thirteen years ago, I was diagnosed with throat cancer. It took the doctors about a week to tell me whether I had weeks, months, or years left to live. As you can imagine, that was enough time to put everything into perspective. The technology that enabled the early detection and treatment of my condition literally saved my life. So, when life gave me a second chance, I decided to, as Koh Buck Son reported in his interview, “democratize technology” to help others. This is the reason why I am here today. I believe Joi Scientific has the energy technology the world needs to achieve three major societal issues: 1) lower the pressure in the energy markets, which has caused war and conflict for so long; 2) stimulate economic development to reverse the unsustainable concentration of wealth around the world; and 3) tackle the problem of carbon emissions to ensure climate doesn’t hinder human progress.

  • What is the path you see for Hydrogen 2.0 technology to enable the world to achieve these three goals?

Applied research has long development gestation cycles. Every time I have attended an innovation conference, the truly transformative technologies have been in development for seven to ten years. You can set your clock by it. This fact has proven to be no different in our case, especially as our work aims to be transformational in an industry that has tried everything. I have closely followed Joi Scientific’s progress with Hydrogen 2.0, first as a friend of the company, then as an advisor, and now as a member of the management team. I have seen the progress that tells me that this amazing technology is ready to transition out of the lab and into commercialization. The path I see for Hydrogen 2.0 is through our effort in working with partners to co-develop the clean and affordable energy solutions they need. I see us providing Hydrogen 2.0 technology and licensing rights that will enable companies all around the world and in all kinds of markets—from utilities to transportation to industry—make and use sustainable energy without the traditional, expensive tradeoffs that moving to clean technology often imposes.

  • To end our conversation today, what obstacles do we need to tackle to empower our partners with the benefits of Hydrogen 2.0 technology?

I think now that the greatest technical obstacles seem to be behind us, our focus needs to be in collaborating with our partners to bring it to market in different forms. We need to find the partners that can make a difference where it matters most, and work with them to deploy Hydrogen 2.0 in the way that makes the most sense for them in their markets. As we do this, one of the challenges that we will need to manage is the sequence of deployment. Hydrogen 2.0 has the potential to be transformative, and therefore, as our initial partners realize the benefits, demand will soar and we will need to focus on scaling our growth to meet global demand. These are challenges that Traver, Rob and I have faced and successfully tackled before for world-changing companies. We are ready!

About Stefan Sjöström

Stefan Sjöström is Joi Scientific’s President of International, based in Singapore, a position he assumed after several years of being a business advisor for our company. Stefan will manage the company’s global expansion of Hydrogen 2.0 technology into energy and public utilities, in both developed and developing countries. Before joining Joi Scientific, he was Vice President for Microsoft’s Public Sector in Asia. He partnered with the United Nations to address the region’s big social issues, including human trafficking. Before Microsoft, Stefan ran the EMEA region for Citrix. You can read more about his background here.

 

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Stay in the know.

As the Hydrogen 2.0 ecosystem gains momentum, we’ll be sharing our views and insights on the new Hydrogen 2.0 Economy. We also update our blog every week with insightful and current knowledge in this growing energy field.

 
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