On October 7, Anna Gordh will begin EFL’s Leading Impact – Executive Management & Leadership Program in preparation for her upcoming role as the CEO of Destination Apelviken in Varberg. We interviewed Anna on what challenges she faces and why she chose Leading Impact.
What is your role at Destination Apelviken?
The plan is for me to succeed my father and take over Destination Apelviken. After giving it much thought, I reached this decision about a year ago. Ever since, I have been preparing myself by combining education, training and mentorships with hands-on work in various positions throughout the company – for knowledge, insights and understanding. At the moment, I am responsible for employee and HR matters. I’m also a member of the management team, a project manager for various collaboration projects, and am, to a certain extent, “shadowing” dad, who is still the company’s CEO.
This type of family business also requires that you pitch in where needed, so sometimes I help wash the dishes in the restaurant, pick products in the store or assist guests at the reception desk. This is the way it’s always been. I spent time in the office when I was still in diapers, and when I was seven or eight it got more fun to pick up trash and talk to guests. At twelve, my brother and I had a schedule for counting daily takings, and so on. Soon, I’ll have worked at every department and done every task. What’s left is the management level, strategy, finance, marketing and more overall industry issues.
You’re starting Leading Impact in October. What made you choose Leading Impact?
Leading Impact is a part of several initiatives to prepare me for taking over the role of the company’s CEO in a couple years. The thing that appealed to us most was the opportunity to bring other key personnel along in the process. I expect efficiency, professionalism and much new knowledge.
What qualities do you think are important to succeed in your role?
I think that all leaders, regardless of company, struggle with the challenge of balancing a humanist point of view, where everyone is valuable, and being responsive and humble with being clear, honest and not afraid to make demands. At the same time, this should still be rooted in running a successful, profitable business with and via other people. As much as this sounds like a cliché, it’s still what we always come back to.
Please tell us about Destination Apelviken.
Apelviken has a been a camping and restaurant destination for a century. Initially, this was spontaneous, from beach huts, nailed Masonite panels and hung tarpaulin to spa resorts , speakeasys and surfing. When he was 21 years old, my father was given the opportunity to purchase the summer store after working a summer job on Getterön four years in a row. 20 years later, the company consisted of the original store, the restaurant and the campsite. And the rest is history. Today, we are one of Sweden’s top campsites, with a hotel, two restaurants, a pool, a surf center, and more. In 2019, we had SEK 58 million in sales and 200,000 overnight stays by guests. The company is completely different from what my father started once upon a time – 30 full-year employees and around 80 more seasonal employees.