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Anders Ahlund, President of Int. Sales & Marketing, EF

Anders Ahlund has worked for EF, one of the giants in the international education industry, for 22 years. From his position as President of International Sales & Marketing, he is well placed to answer questions about the global footprint and vision that EF has.

The PIE: So let’s start with asking you how you got involved in the industry.

Anders Ahlund EF

"Products in the future will be more and more integrated and complex"

AA: It was a coincidence. Back in 1991 I wanted to go abroad for a year, take a gap year which I never did while I studied, so I found this job in Switzerland with EF and I figured I would go there for a year and then I go back for my career in Sweden. 22 years later I’m still with EF, have moved around the world, was back in Switzerland but moved to Dubai a few years ago.

The PIE: You’re based in Dubai now?

AA: I am based in Dubai but spend also some time in Zürich.

The PIE: You’ve had a pretty interesting global career, what has been your favourite city to be based in?

AA: Very tough question. I tend to see the positive in each city. Boston is of course a fantastic city and so is Zürich, so it’s a very close call between those cities. Dubai is also an amazing city.

The PIE: And how would you describe your role? Global troubleshooter?

AA: That could be one description, but I’m mainly developing new markets, so I am in charge of the developing, opening new markets as well as supporting our worldwide agent network and EF’s offices in the Middle East and Africa.

“Pretty much the day the regime fell we re-opened the office in Libya”

The PIE: How big is your worldwide agent network?

AA: We normally officially don’t talk about numbers but we have a substantial amount of business coming from our partner network ,we call it indirect sales, educational agents, travel agents, selling teachers, selling leaders etc. and it’s a substantial part of our business.

The PIE: So what is substantial in terms of per cent?

AA: It’s more than half; it’s substantial.

The PIE: As an undisputed market leader, everyone looks to EF to see what you’re doing next, so which world regions will be a priority for EF in the coming few years?

AA: I think it’s quite easy to take a look at the map where EF has presence today and where EF doesn’t. South America, Europe and Asia are rather covered, so the future markets to approach will be Africa and the Middle East.

The PIE: Which countries in Africa?

“We put a lot of effort into finding the right people”

AA: We just opened up in these past 12 months Libya and Algeria.

The PIE: You have mentioned Libya to me before, you were in there straight away, weren’t you?

AA: That’s correct. Unfortunately we had to close for about seven or eight months but pretty much the day the regime fell we re-opened the office and it’s going well despite security issues and visa rejections, money transfer limitations etc.

The PIE: And how do you manage global HR when you are in so many countries?

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