In 1996, as a newly graduated mechanical engineer from Sweden’s Royal Institute of Technology, Per Carlqvist joined Mycronic with a clear-eyed ambition. First, gain hands-on experience with the most interesting technology available. Second, use it to make a real difference in people’s daily work. And third, pursue these interests to experience new ways of working, living and creating together with people from around the world. “At Mycronic,” he says, “I’ve been fortunate to be able to do all three. So, you could say I’ve found several of my dream jobs all in one place.”
Asked why he chose to work at Mycronic, Per reflects on his early days in the company with the same enthusiasm that led him here nearly three decades ago. “Part of the initial attraction to Mycronic was the direct international experience, the opportunity to work from day one with extremely advanced manufacturers in the US and Asia. The other is that, for a mechanical engineer, the product was so incredibly exciting. It was, and still is, such a world-class technology in its sophistication. It was the best thing I could imagine working with.”
A dream of Japan is born
Originally, Per joined Mycronic to specialize in mechanical design. But within his first year, he discovered a growing interest in vibration analysis and began working with an industry-leading team of engineers to develop new methods of isolating the company’s high-precision laser pattern generators from environmental vibrations. These massive machines, weighing several tons and consisting of thousands of sensitive moving components, needed to be assembled and optimized for customers in the US, Korea and Japan. It was during these customer visits that Per decided, if given the chance, to one day return and work in Japan.
It was probably
the best learning experience of my career. I was part systems architect, part cultural ambassador.
A Mycronic ambassador abroad
Twenty years and several job roles later, the opportunity finally presented itself when Per was offered a two-year position as Lead Systems Architect for a newly acquired team of development engineers in Fukuoka, Japan.
“It was probably the best learning experience of my career,” says Per. “I was part systems architect and part cultural ambassador. I needed to convey our company culture, and some Swedish culture, to bring this new team into the Mycronic Group. But I also learned so much about how they work and gained a lot of new perspectives on our own ways of working.”
A winning combination
This mixture of Swedish and Japanese culture was something Per found uniquely rewarding, both personally and professionally. “There’s something amazing about the Swedish-Japanese combination: the Japanese clarity, the careful planning and the attention to detail, together with the Swedish structure and openness to new ideas. This really is a valuable mix. Of course, it helped that both sides were curious and willing to understand the differences in how others think. It encourages a lot of humility, and a lot of creativity.”
“Of course, it wasn’t easy at first,” he admits. “But Mycronic was really generous in their support – from the Swedish office, the Japanese office and from HR. Without that support, and the good communication I had with my boss, it would have been a lot more difficult, for sure. But in the end, both the work and the lifestyle were simply fantastic.”
There’s something amazing about the Swedish-Japanese combination… It encourages a lot of humility and a lot of creativity.
Refreshing the creative spirit
Since returning to Mycronic headquarters in Täby last year, this experience is something that continues to guide Per’s thinking in his current role as Director of Pick and Place R&D. “In our industry especially, it’s important to always be learning. You never know what’s coming tomorrow so you need to be fast on your feet, to remain open to new ideas, fresh minds and outside perspectives. For me this meant living, working and collaborating in a new cultural environment. And this helps to build the relationships and communication you need to keep evolving.”
New ideas for a complex world
“But for the company as a whole,” he emphasizes, “it’s even more important to keep this creativity and curiosity alive. Sure, some of us have been in the business for a lot of years because we love it, but we all know that reality is changing. The technologies change, production and supply chains change, and markets change. So, the world isn’t as simple as many people thought it was for the past few decades. On the assembly solutions side we see capacity being built up in a lot of new places already. Not just Asia and the US, but in Mexico, Eastern Europe and elsewhere. Add to that the green transition across the globe, in which electronics play a huge part, and it’s easy to see that tomorrow’s growth won’t look the same as yesterday’s.”
Changing with the times
For Per, this is precisely what continues to make Mycronic such a rewarding place to work: the opportunity to expand these new frontiers in advanced manufacturing through constant development of state-of-the-art technologies. And he remains as excited as ever to explore these possibilities together with a new generation of curious minds and diverse perspectives. “I really encourage people from different backgrounds to come here and see it for themselves,” he concludes. “We always have a need to change with the times, and I’m convinced that this a great place to put new ideas to the test.”
Text: Grant Baldridge
Published: 14 April 2023