A meteoric rise: from trainee to Managing Director in ten years
One day in May 2005, Johan Dasht stepped through the doors of the Oskarshamn nuclear power plant, OKG, to start his work as a trainee. Back then, he had no way of knowing that ten years later he would be Managing Director for the company. Johan Dasht’s incredible journey is an excellent illustration of the possibilities and career paths in the energy industry for young engineering graduates.
Finding talent to meet the needs of the electricity network of the future has always been a major challenge for the energy industry, not least within nuclear power. Attracting young people to the nuclear power industry hasn’t always been easy, either. Not so surprising, if we go a few decades back in time. In 1986, the government voted to prohibit any preparations for new reactors – a law that the Swedish parliament repealed in 2006.
At the same time, existing power plants were to be decomissioned by 2010, according to a parliamentary resolution. However, this resolution was withdrawn when policy makers understood its catastrophic consequences for the Swedish power grid. Ever since, Sweden has shown – not least through the Energy Policy Agreement – how important it is for a reliable electricity system that nuclear power continue to supply fossil-free, stable electricity.
And now the tides have really turned. In the latest opinion polls, two out of three Swedes feel positively about nuclear power and 40 percent are in favor of building new reactors as needed. The new confidence has led to the Swedish Foundation for Strategic Research putting aside around SEK 50 million for future nuclear power research.
The nuclear power industry in the Nordic region does not want to fall behind, so a joint trainee program is being established – the Nordic Nuclear Trainee Program. The program will provide around 25 to 30 college and university students near the end of their education with 12 months of high-quality guidance at some of their different sites in Sweden and Finland.
Johan Dasht, Managing Director at OKG outside Oskarshamn, has high expectations for the trainee program. And he is both hoping for and has confidence in many future trainees.
There’s great appeal in working in an industry that does so much to help Sweden reach its climate goals, thanks to the mix of nuclear and hydro power in a fossil-free electricity system.
You began as a trainee yourself, once upon a time. What’s your best advice to prospective trainees?
- “My advice is to take advantage of the time and use it well. In school, you develop more theoretical knowledge. When you begin as a trainee, you move on to a phase where you apply your knowledge during short placements at different workplaces and with different colleagues. It means you receive diverse leadership training, build networks and get an understanding of the big picture. I think curiosity, enthusiasm and flexibility are good qualities.”
Why is a trainee program important?
- I see it as a mutually beneficial investment for both the company and the individual. One of the advantages with the trainee program is that you can see different aspects of the industry. It gives you an understanding of how everything fits together. Another advantage is that over time, you build a network. I developed an understanding of the entire business and got to know many of my colleagues during that time. It made it easier for me, in my various roles, to understand the business from different aspects
When you started as a trainee almost 15 years ago, could you have imagined that you would one day become Managing Director at OKG?
- “Of course I toyed with the idea throughout my career. But what appealed to me about being a trainee was the drive to understand the big picture and the combination of leadership and skills. Just wanting to grow and take responsibility was an important driving force. That, in combination with access to the tools and opportunities that the trainee program offered, has given me a solid foundation for my leadership.”
Which qualities do you think are important in a leader to stimulate young employees to take charge of their own development?
- “Everyone has their own needs and dreams, though they take different forms. I like being engaged and paving the way and seeing others succeed. Noticing, acknowledging and believing in others can contribute to personal development. In addition to being a curious and engaged role model. Curiosity has always led me to new paths and opened new doors in my life, not least during my time as a trainee”
Johan Dasht, Managing Director at OKG and a former trainee himself, likes being engaged and paving the way and seeing others succeed.