Tina Thörner: A Multi-Faceted, Result-oriented and Purposeful Leader

Human Resources Manager Moelven Edanesågen | Graduate Personnel Scientist

From growing up on a farm to becoming one of Sweden’s most successful co-drivers in rally with three gold medals in the world championship. Tina Thörner was formed to become a result-oriented and purposeful girl, with a creative mind to solve the challenges facing her in life.

Some people have inspiring tales to tell. A few live an inspiring tale. Tina Thörner is one of the latter.

Growing up on a farm in Värmlandsnäs, a northern peninsula of Lake Vänern, Sweden, Tina learned to work hard and be proactive. Her grandmother’s motto was, “Nothing happens if you do nothing”. Her family taught her to focus on what she can control and pursue her goals. These cherished moments of her childhood taught her the lesson of her life to be a resilient and driven woman who never quits.

Always in the Driver’s Seat

Growing up, Tina had a passion for different sports and she collected many prizes in different disciplines. She wanted to become a fighter pilot in the 80s, an unusual choice for young girls then. After spending over a year at a flying school in Albuquerque, New Mexico (US) she encountered a block as Sweden didn’t allow women in force back then, so she continued with her study of economics.

At the gymnasium, Tina met her first boyfriend who was an upcoming rally driver in Sweden. Intrigued by speed and the sport, she joined him and they started competing together. They were to become professionals in 1989 when she lost him to an accident. That turned her world “upside-down” at the time and held her back for a while from the sport.

However, sometimes you heal where you hurt. In 1990 Tina was asked to co-drive for a professional Scottish female rally driver at General Motors. Since then, she spent the next 25 years as a professional co-driver in rally alongside the fastest women and men, becoming female world champion co-driver 3 times and two times rally raid champion co-driver in the desert competition and finishing 2nd overall in the DAKAR rally.

In 2015 Tina switched to work for motorsport in a new way, by leading a new AI technology project as Race Director, making everyday drivers aware of how they, through focusing on their driving, can be a change for lowering CO2 while driving as well as lowering the risk of having a car accident. “This is called FIA Smart Driving Challenge, the world’s biggest CSR project, that was used during COP 28 in Dubai for all transport and is run with AI technology from Greater Than, a Swedish insurance TECH company, where I also am a board member today,” says Tina.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, as universities and educational institutions opened up and went live on the web, Tina decided to make use of remote study. She used this time and took to educating herself in something she has great passion for today. This summer of 2023, she graduated as a personnel scientist. “Throughout my rally career, I have always worked and supported our development within every team when it came to working conditions and how we could structure and work smarter as well as personal development, both physical and mental.

During this time in motorsport, I did a lot of educational certifications for example; NLP Coach, Mental trainer, Yoga instructor, project manager and leadership as well as Stress and- health pedagogue. For 20 years I have also done speeches about motivation, reaching goals, team building, leadership training & workshops and mental training,” shares Tina.

After graduation in 2023, she found an opportunity as HR Manager at the Sawmill in her home community where she grew up, in Värmland and she applied for it and got through. Since September 2023, Tina has been a part of Moelven Edanesågen, where she loves to come to work every day with her new team of 109 employees.

A New Track

Tina’s journey has been “very” different to navigate to where she is today. However, it is passion and her commitment to better herself every day that has brought her to her new role. As an HR Manager at Moelven Edanesågen, in the Wood industry, Tina is managing 109 co-workers at the sawmill outside Arvika in Värmland. She came into this new environment with her experience, knowledge, and ways of leading rally teams in the world rally- and rally raid championship. This was followed as Race Director for FIA SDC. Both areas were a Multikulti environment, working with 100% focus, no excuses, no whining, and 100% responsibility for each and one’s work assignments. This whole “leading style” has brought a “wake-up call” into a very Swedish “blue-collar” Traditional working environment.

“That someone arrives every morning with a “SUNSHINE MINDSET” spreading positive energy and keeping self-discipline– have for me felt like the biggest change in everyday meetings with my colleagues/co-workers. The response has been very positive and at the moment this is spreading among many more today. That has helped us as a team to open up and overcome challenges much more easily and with a smile while working hard,” shares Tina.

She started to send weekly news – using live video, something that the organization and her team had never experienced before, and today they wait to watch it every Thursday. Also, she has now created team leaders within every shift so that the company is spreading the leadership and making it “flatter” and more inclusive of all workers. As a leader, Tina is very open and transparent, so that her team knows where they have her.

“Using situated leadership built from coaching my team to question existing ways of acting and doing – daring to think and try new ways. My most valuable style is leading out of “unconditional love” within a very CLEAR “game plan with rules”,” she shares.

Tina loves to use the latest technology and that has been a “turnover” in her new role as the HR manager. She has directed and implemented new digital programs and tools to be just as updated as most modern sawmills. She has also well implemented new education for all personnel to update their digital skills and know-how. “Why waste time on doing work that technology can and will do better than us humans without any “cultural or personal” values? I have invested in and been a part of an entrepreneurial education platform for children of the world: www.youracademy.com. I am passionate about implementing technology wherever it can be of best and most efficient use,” she shares. One of the users are the orphan home in Bangui, Central Africa where I have been their sponsor since 2010 and we have gone through 2 civil wars and many challenges, but today many of the children have created their life success both with education, work and private life and contribute back to support the orphans home lead by Maria Theresia.

A Leading Player in the Wood Industry

Moelven is (not: one of) an European (not:largest) producers of wood loaders. Together, its sawmills produce about 2 million m3 of pine and spruce annually. Moelven is a Scandinavian industrial group that produces building products and systems for the construction industry. With sustainable spruce and pine as raw materials, Moelven’s wide-ranging product and service range makes them one of the leading players in the industry.

Moelven sells raw materials further for processing in other industries and uses it in its own products where it manufactures everything clients need in terms of wood for their home, lumber for industry, glulam, building modules, flexible office solutions, chips, and bioenergy. In 100 years, Moelven has evolved from having one factory in Moelv producing wagon wheels dipped in boiling oil, to an international timber processing group.

Sustainability is crucial to Moelven’s competitiveness. Therefore, they have set ambitious and concrete sustainability goals within four main areas – safeguarding natural resources, focusing on people, local values, and climate-smart products and services. They manage the renewable resources they live off with respect and care. They take responsibility for creating a safe workplace where they take care of people and the environment as their fundamental values.

“We are proud of our over 100-year-old history and look forward to the future, where the digital sawmill plays a key role: Moelven as a company is focused on Transforming from a very traditional to a HIGH TECH/DIGITAL sawmill industry with just as up to date using digital and high-tech tools in creating the best work/life balance for all its employees,” says Tina.

Also, speaking about the future, she says, “You can expect that Moelven Edanesågen will be a company to visit in 3 years’ time, when others need inspiration on how we have the most inspirational work/life balance and healthy and engaged workers, where all can and will take turns in leading their group and supporting the management with new ideas and solutions for improving both machines and humans.”

Turning Challenges into Achievement Milestones

Tina’s biggest challenge was when she became the co-driver of Nasser Al-Attiyah from Qatar, who, at that time, had never won an international rally. He joined Tina and their BMW team who came from winning the World Cup title. They joined together and they overcame it through training and practice on Swedish Icy roads and an attitude of never giving in. Even when they disagreed with each other on most points, they agreed on a mindset: always act with a mindset that “we were newly in love” (it is from Tina’s leading tool: unconditional love leadership which she developed and) “cool down the differences using NLP coaching on each other” (again from Tina’s education and license as NLP coach).

They won the title that year. This was a success and a Historical victory – since no mixed team in the world with a man from Qatar joined by a European woman – had won an international title.

“To be a female, succeeding and navigating her driver and team to this success in 2008– overcoming all challenges, both personal (cultural) as well as technical – and the skepticism against our mix, all the negative comments and so on – gave us “fuel” to coach each other gaining an even stronger MIND, to SHOW the sport and THE WORLD – that, as Nelson

Mandela told me when he visited our workshop in South Africa, where I was competing for Nissan – the sport will unite and overcome so many more bridges between people of any culture and collar, than politicians can do – to join in and work hand in hand to succeed. And RIGHT he was – Nasser and I proved it and after that we have been role models for equality in the Middle East, supporting and inspiring this – seeing how males and females are now working and competing more accepted and equal,” states Tina. A great example in the Dakar Rally that now is run in Saudi Arabia where local female drives compete against male competition on equal conditions.

What she did learn from it all was that when it comes to human “brain pictures” – the way each and every one of us believes, have been trained to believe from our surrounding’s from growing up – what is OK and not OK– this can be changed over time. We can enlighten each other with an exchange of knowledge between us – not having to give every solution a RIGHT or WRONG – just letting it be “one option” on how to handle life. Now when she leads, she asks: is this a law of nature (not changed by humans) or is it “man-made/developed/decided? If humans have implemented it – then for sure it can be changed, sometimes in the snap of our fingers, if we really want to! A very good example is when all the flights in the world was grounded over a period of a couple of weeks…

And her second question is- give me new ideas and ways to act on it from how we see and look upon the world we live in today. Too many rules and laws are “outdated” in the modern world of new knowledge and technology; that is why she leads and pushes for “new alternatives” before she lets the team decide and “just do like people before us did!

Challenges within the Industry

From Tina’s point of view, what holds the industry and many more back is humans leading at the top. She observes that the board members are not enough “representative” of the blend of ages, sexes, and cultures. People tend, most of the time, to fall back into the “like we have done it before” methodology to stay safe and sound and make things less challenging or hassle-free. Tina, on the other hand, is an entrepreneur, who loves to dare, try and if it does not work out, try it again but in a different way – and has the grit to try until it succeeds.

“Older people tend to not want to have a “bumpy” surrounding –while testing new = less stress = more time for other things. Of course, not all need and have to change too fast – but still, be more dynamic and daring than what is shown and acted by board members and

leaders of our business of today,” she says. We have so much more knowledge and are well educated, but still oft “know better than the way we act”. One example is how slow the work together as “world citizens” acting to achieve the values of the 17 United Nations Global Goals….

The Second point is that the board and top leaders can invest a lot in new technology –

but do not invest the percentage that is needed of that investment in developing the humans! Humans have a lack of staying updated with the latest in knowledge compared to the modern machines they are asked to run and deliver results together with. She feels that they should put in equal, if not more, attention towards developing the most crucial resource – the human resource.

Words of Experience and Wisdom

Tina concludes with the following message to the young entrepreneurs:

“Be aware of a “HEALTH/WORK LIFE”, the importance of the higher purpose for our environment and planet, and plan, act, and thrive businesses for generations to come as well as living the best of life while leading and working today – here and now.

Take In that each and every one of us has very little time where we are a part of this “life on our planet”. Share the leadership with each business employer and create for all together to have the best of possibilities to live and work with life quality out of each companies’ possibilities. Involve – share and thrive together as a TEAM in every business with an “INCLUDING” leadership. Dare to share responsibility and make consequences when the gameplan is not supported or followed as agreed.”

“Never become a lazy and boring grown-up with a locked mindset!”

“Condition your mind to spread warmth & energy like the sun in every meeting with every person, animal, or plant every day.”

“Moelven will continue to build a sustainable future in wood.”