Our society is becoming increasingly vulnerable and the risk of being subjected to various types of crises has increased. As a company, it is no longer a question of if you will experience a crisis – but rather when. But by being well prepared, you have a good chance of minimizing the damage. With this in mind, Stena AB has initiated joint crisis work across the entire Group.

“Safety, high quality and deliveries that meet or even exceed our customers’ expectations characterise the way we operate and our brand. It is crucial to handle unexpected events and emergencies in order to protect our employees, customers and guarantee our deliveries in the event of a crisis. The responsibility rests largely with our companies, but to coordinate and be of support, we have at the Stena AB level developed a new structure to handle potential crises”, says Staffan Hultgren, Vice President of Stena AB.

Stena has so far been spared from major crises. But when the terrorist attack on Drottninggatan in Stockholm occurred last year, many employees from different companies in the group were in the vicinity. It became clear that among other things, a common system for crisis communication was needed. In this situation it was Linda Mickelson, HR Manager for Stena Rederi and Magnus Carling, Information Security Manager for Stena AB who took on the task of trying to reach everyone who could possibly be in the area – which required relatively extensive detective work.

Magnus Carling & Linda Mickelson

“The incident showed that we need to be better prepared. Crises can look so different today and may span many areas. When it comes to safety at sea and security on board we are very competent, but now we need to take an even broader approach”, says Magnus Carling.

Together with Linda Mickelson, Magnus Carling leads the effort on joint crisis work in Stena AB, as designated by Staffan Hultgren. The crisis group will not be an operational group, but rather a planning unit that coordinates the other groups in the company. It will also manage the crises where several companies are impacted and will lead joint Group exercises.

“By working across the entire Group, we can gather valuable experiences from other companies and spread this knowledge”, says Linda Mickelson.

Unexpected crises, beside terrorism for example, can occur due to natural disasters, cyber attacks and accidents. An example of an accident that had serious consequences for the entire country was when a Polish airplane crashed in Russia in 2010. Onboard were, among others, the President of Poland, several high-ranking politicians, military leaders and trade union leaders.

“Even though it is well known that you should not let all key people travel together in this way, many organizations still do just that”, says Magnus Carling.

The timetable for this crisis work states that the organization and the process must be in place before the end of the year. After that, exercises will begin on a smaller scale. Then the goal is for all companies in the Group to practice at least once a year. In parallel, an emergency communication system will also be established so all employees can be reached when necessary.

“With more knowledge we will be able to protect lives, values ​​and our brand”, says Magnus Carling.

Lottie Knutson


Lecturer, journalist, writer and chair of Stena Line’s board of directors with extensive experience in crisis work and crisis communications – including SAS air crash in Gottröra, the tsunami disaster, the volcanic ash cloud and a number of cyber incidents.

What should one consider when building up crisis team work?

– The risk today is that we base too much of our preparedness on different apps and digital systems. It creates enormous vulnerability if we get hacked. What do we do if we, for example, can’t use our own website for information, can’t reach our phone contacts, can’t make calls with our mobile phones or even come into work because our digital access control isn’t functioning? Digital tools are good and we should use them, but we need to practice the analogue as well.

How do we do that?

– It’s important to really test, practice and think about what can happen if the ordinary digital systems are knocked out. A good first step might be to have a parallel website so you can access information anyway. The emergency checklist you have should also be in paper form. The costs of the attacks may be extreme if you are not prepared. Just look at Maersk who lost around MSEK 2,000 because they were vulnera-ble to a cyber attack. Or the alleged IT scandal that hit the Transport Agency, which led to a number of board members and senior management being shown the door. 


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